Chapter 2: Skills and Character Strengths

Skills and Character Strengths

Every single day we get things done: we accomplish tasks, we work on projects, we meet new people, we learn new things, the list goes on and on. What allows us to be productive are the skills and the strengths that we use.

Before reading any further: STOP! Take out a piece of paper and grab a pen or pencil. Now, write a list of all of your skills….

How many skills did you come up with? 25? 15? 10? 3?

Now, what if I asked you to write down three of your character traits? Would you be able to identify those things (love of nature, appreciation of art, kindness, generosity) that are special to you? Think of these character traits as part of who you are and which guide how you approach life.

SKILLS

Start Identifying and Recognizing Your Skills

Many of us do not recognize our skills, so this exercise I just had you do might have seemed difficult. One of your tasks for this lesson is to really recognize the skills you have and use and to identify the skill you really like to use.

Some skills seem natural (like reading, planning and making decisions), some skills we learn (like researching information or balancing a checkbook), and many of our skills improve with time, practice and education. Basically, our skills change over time.

Self-Motivating Skills

Knowing what skills you enjoy using and are interested in developing further is another piece to understand in this process of career discovery. Self-motivating skills are those skills that we enjoy using – and it only makes sense to recognize these skills when we are choosing a career. Imagine how great it would be to use the skills you really enjoy on the job – your days would fly by!

Content vs. Transferable Skills

Content skills are those skills that are specific to a job or career.  Being able to reconcile an account is an example of a content skill, a skill that is specific to the accounting and bookkeeping fields.  Connecting wires to circuit breakers is a content skill, a specific skill that electricians know how to do.

Transferable skills are those skills that we can use in a variety of jobs and across career fields.  Let’s consider customer service skills.  To provide effective customer service, one must have strong communication skills, effective listening skills, be able to recognize and understand non-verbal messages, and respond accordingly.

Customer service skills are considered transferable skills because they are used across all career fields.  For instance, both the accountant and the electrician (and the teacher, social worker, nurse, administrative assistant, etc.) would use customer service skills.

The SCANS

As you will read below, the SCANS is a list of skills and competencies deemed important for today’s workers.  The original report was directed towards educational institutions as a source of guidance for creating curriculum that would aid young people in being ready for work.

There is a three-part foundation [basic skills, thinking skills, and personal qualities] and there are five workplace competencies identified [resources, interpersonal, information, systems, and technology]. As you  read through this report, can you identify which skills you have and which skills you might want to develop further?

The SCANS Skills and Competencies: An Overview

The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) was appointed by the Secretary of Labor to determine the skills our young people need to succeed in the world of work. The Commission’s fundamental purpose is to encourage a high-performance economy characterized by high-skill, high-wage employment.

The primary objective is to help teachers understand how curriculum and instruction must change to enable students to develop those high performance skills needed to succeed in the high performance workplace.

SCANS has focused on one important aspect of schooling: what they called “learning a living” system. In 1991, they issued their initial report, What Work Requires of Schools. As outlined in that report, a high-performance workplace requires workers who have a solid foundation in the basic literacy and computational skills, in the thinking skills necessary to put knowledge to work, and in the personal qualities that make workers dedicated and trustworthy.

High-performance workplaces also require other competencies: the ability to manage resources, to work amicably and productively with others, to acquire and use information, to master complex systems, and to work with a variety of technologies.

This document outlines both these “fundamental skills” and “workplace competencies”

A Three-Part Foundation

Basic Skills:

Reads, writes, performs arithmetic and mathematical operations, listens and speaks

A. Reading–locates, understands, and interprets written information in prose and in documents such as manuals, graphs, and schedules

B. Writing–communicates thoughts, ideas, information, and messages in writing; and creates documents such as letters, directions, manuals, reports, graphs, and flow charts

C. Arithmetic/Mathematics–performs basic computations and approaches practical problems by choosing appropriately from a variety of mathematical techniques

D. Listening–receives, attends to, interprets, and responds to verbal messages and other cues

E. Speaking–organizes ideas and communicates orally

Thinking Skills:

Thinks creatively, makes decisions, solves problems, visualizes, knows how to learn, and reasons

A. Creative Thinking–generates new ideas

B. Decision Making–specifies goals and constraints, generates alternatives, considers risks, and evaluates and chooses best alternative

 C. Problem Solving–recognizes problems and devises and implements plan of action

D. Seeing Things in the Mind’s Eye–organizes, and processes symbols, pictures, graphs, objects, and other information

E. Knowing How to Learn–uses efficient learning techniques to acquire and apply new knowledge and skills

F. Reasoning–discovers a rule or principle underlying the relationship between two or objects and applies it when solving a problem

Personal Qualities:

Displays responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, and integrity and honesty

A. Responsibility–exerts a high level of effort and perseveres towards goal attainment

B. Self-Esteem–believes in own self-worth and maintains a positive view of self

C. Sociability-demonstrates understanding, friendliness, adaptability, empathy, and

D. Self-Management–assesses self accurately, sets personal goals, monitors progress, and exhibits self-control

E. Integrity/Honesty–chooses ethical courses of action

Five Workplace Competencies

Resources:

Identifies, organizes, plans, and allocates resources

A. Time–Selects goal-relevant activities, ranks them, allocates time, and prepares and follows schedules

B. Money–Uses or prepares budgets, makes forecasts, keeps records, and makes adjustments to meet objectives

C. Material and Facilities–Acquires, stores, allocates, and uses materials or space efficiently

D. Human Resources–Assesses skills and distributes work accordingly, evaluates performance and provides feedback

Interpersonal:

Works with others

A. Participates as Member of a Team–contributes to group effort

B. Teaches Others New Skills

C. Serves Clients/Customers–works to satisfy customers’ expectations

D. Exercises Leadership–communicates ideas to justify position, persuades and convinces others, responsibly challenges existing procedures and policies

E. Negotiates–works toward agreements involving exchange of resources, resolves divergent interests

F. Works with Diversity–works well with men and women from diverse backgrounds

Information:

Acquires and uses information

A. Acquires and Evaluates Information

B. Organizes and Maintains Information

C. Interprets and Communicates Information

D. Uses Computers to Process Information

Systems:

Understands complex inter-relationships

A. Understands Systems–knows how social, organizational, and technological systems work and operates effectively with them

B. Monitors and Corrects Performance–distinguishes trends, predicts impacts on systems operations, diagnoses deviations in systems’ performance and corrects malfunctions

C. Improves or Designs Systems–suggests modifications to existing systems and develops new or alternative systems to improve performance

Technology:

Works with a variety of technologies

A. Selects Technology–chooses procedures, tools or equipment including computers and related technologies

 B. Applies Technology to Task–Understands overall intent and proper procedures for setup and operation of equipment

 C. Maintains and Troubleshoots Equipment–Prevents, identifies, or solves problems with equipment, including computers and other technologies

Glossary of Terms

Basic Skills

Reading:

Locates, understands, and interprets written information in prose and documents–including manuals, graphs, and schedules–to perform tasks; learns from text by determining the main idea or essential message; identifies relevant details, facts, and specifications; infers or locates the meaning of unknown or technical vocabulary; and judges the accuracy, appropriateness, style, and plausibility of reports, proposals, or theories of other writers.

Writing:

Communicates thoughts, ideas, information, and messages in writing; records information completely and accurately; composes and creates documents such as letters, directions, manuals, reports, proposals, graphs, flow charts; uses language, style, organization, and format appropriate to the subject matter, purpose, and audience. Includes supporting documentation and attends to level of detail; checks, edits, and revises for correct information, appropriate emphasis, form, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Arithmetic/Mathematics:

Arithmetic – Performs basic computations; uses basic numerical concepts such as whole numbers and percentages in practical situations; makes reasonable estimates of arithmetic results without a calculator; and uses tables, graphs, diagrams, and charts to obtain or convey quantitative information.

Mathematics – Approaches practical problems by choosing appropriately from a variety of mathematical techniques; uses quantitative data to construct logical explanations for real world situations; expresses mathematical ideas and concepts orally and in writing; and understands the role of chance in the occurrence and prediction of events.

Listening:

Receives, attends to, interprets, and responds to verbal messages and other cues such as body language in ways that are appropriate to the purpose; for example, to comprehend; to learn; to critically evaluate; to appreciate; or to support the speaker.

Speaking:

Organizes ideas and communicates oral messages appropriate to listeners and situations; participates in conversation, discussion, and group presentations; selects an appropriate medium for conveying a message; uses verbal languages and other cues such as body language appropriate in style, tone, and level of complexity to the audience and the occasion; speaks clearly and communicates message; understands and responds to listener feedback; and asks questions when needed.

Thinking Skills

Creative Thinking:

Uses imagination freely, combines ideas or information in new ways, makes connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, and reshapes goals in ways that reveal new possibilities.

Decision Making:

Specifies goals and constraints, generates alternatives, considers risks, and evaluates and chooses best alternatives.

Problem Solving:

Recognizes that a problem exists (i.e., there is a discrepancy between what is and what should or could be), identifies possible reasons for the discrepancy, and devises and implements a plan of action to resolve it. Evaluates and monitors progress, and revises plan as indicated by findings.

Seeing Things in the Mind’s Eye:

Organizes and processes symbols, pictures, graphs, objects or other information; for example, see a building from blue print, a system’s operation from schematics, the flow of work activities from narrative descriptions, or the taste of food from reading a recipe.

Knowing How to Learn:

Recognizes and can use learning techniques to apply and adapt new knowledge and skills in both familiar and changing situations. Involves being aware of learning tools such as personal learning styles (visual, aural, etc.), formal learning strategies (note taking or clustering items that share some characteristics), and informal learning strategies (awareness of unidentified false assumptions that may lead to faulty conclusions).

Reasoning:

Discovers a rule or principle underlying the relationship between two or more objects and applies it in solving a problem. For example, uses logic to draw conclusions from available information, extracts rules or principles from a set of objects or written text; applies rules and principles to a new situation, or determines which conclusions are correct when given a set of facts and a set of conclusions.

Personal Qualities

Responsibility:

Exerts a high level of effort and perseverance towards goal attainment. Works hard to become excellent at doing tasks by setting high standards, paying attention to details, working well, and displaying a high level concentration even when assigned an unpleasant task. Displays high standards of attendance, punctuality, enthusiasm, vitality, and optimism in approaching and completing tasks.

Self-Esteem:

Believes in own self-worth and maintains a positive view of self; demonstrates knowledge of own skills and abilities; is aware of impact on others; and knows own emotional capacity and needs and how to address them.

Sociability:

Demonstrates understanding, friendliness, adaptability, empathy, and politeness in new and on-going group settings. Asserts self in familiar and unfamiliar social situations; relates well to others; responds appropriately as the situation requires; and takes an interest in what others say and do.

Self-Management:

Assesses own knowledge, skills, and abilities accurately; sets well-defined and realistic personal goals; monitors progress toward goal attainment and motivates self through goal achievement; exhibits self-control and responds to feedback unemotionally and nondefensively; is a “self-starter.”

Integrity/Honesty:

Can be trusted. Recognizes when faced with making a decision or exhibiting behavior that may break with commonly-held personal or societal values; understands the impact of violating these beliefs and codes on an organizations, self, and others; and chooses an ethical course of action.

Source:

The SCANS skills and competencies: An overview. (2001, March 29) https://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/chang/sped/scanskills.html

Identify Your Skills

One way to identify your skills, is to think about what you’ve done in the past.  What skills have you gained at work? Can you identify the content skills and the transferable skills? What about the skills you’ve learned in school? Or in a volunteer position? What about the skills you use at home? At the grocery store? When cooking dinner?

At this beginning of this chapter, you were asked to write down the skills you have. Can you add to that list now?

Connecting Skills to Jobs

There are a few different programs that allow you to select the skills you currently enjoy using, or think you would enjoy using in the future, and from that selection create a list of careers that utilize those skills.

Career Information System.  This is a program that is password protected.  Check with your school to see if they have a subscription to this service.

O*NET OnLine sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and free to use. From the main page, click on Advanced Search and then on Go to Skills Search.  Choose the skills that sound interesting to you.  Once you’ve chosen your skills, click Go at the bottom of the page.  A big list of careers will appear that align with the skills you chose.

Career One Stop Skills Matcher also sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Since new skills can always be developed, you might take these assessments more than once to see how the results might change.  For instance, maybe you take an assessment using the skills you have today and look at your results.  Then, try taking the same assessment using the skills that you think you would like to have one day in the future and see how your results differ.  This exercise may give you some clues to a career direction and to the types of skills you would like to develop.

CHARACTER STRENGTHS – Our positive traits

Introduction

What Are Character Strengths?

By: Sherri Gordon

 

“Character strengths aren’t about ignoring the negative. Instead, they help us overcome life’s inevitable adversities. For example, you can’t be brave without first feeling fear; you can’t show perseverance without first wanting to quit; you can’t show self-control without first being tempted to do something you know you shouldn’t.” (Brian, J., 2020)

Good character is something everyone looks for in other people, whether they are employees, students, friends, or potential dating partners. Sometimes called character strengths, these are the good qualities that people possess—a collection of positive traits that show people’s strengths—rather than a compilation of their faults and issues.

According to those who practice positive psychology, good character is exemplified in 24 widely-valued character strengths that are organized under six broad virtues. These 24 character strengths were first studied and identified by Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Neil Mayerson.

Together, they eventually created the Values In Action (VIA) Institute on Character, which identifies these character strengths that all people have in varying degrees. Later, a team of 50 social scientists identified six virtues, which are now used to classify the character strengths.

The goal behind the VIA Classification of Strengths is to focus on what is right about people rather than pathologize what is wrong with them. Consequently, those with an interest in positive psychology look for strengths of character in people and help them build on those attributes in their lives. The 24 character strengths that Dr. Seligman identified are divided into six classes of virtues. These six virtues include wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence. Here is a closer look at the six virtues and the character strengths that are classified under each.

Wisdom

Those who score high in the area of wisdom tend to have cognitive strengths that lead them to not only acquire knowledge but to use it in creative and useful ways. Here is an overview of the core character strengths that fall under wisdom.

  • Creativity: Thinking of new ways to do things
  • Curiosity: Taking an interest in a wide variety of topics
  • Open-Mindedness: Examining things from all sides; thinking things through
  • Love of Learning: Mastering new topics, skills, and bodies of research
  • Perspective: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; looking at the world in a way that makes sense

Courage

People who score high in courage have emotional strengths that allow them to accomplish goals despite any opposition they face—whether internal or external. Here is a closer look at the core character strengths that are classified under courage.

  • Honesty: Speaking the truth; being authentic and genuine
  • Bravery: Embracing challenges, difficulties, or pain; not shrinking from threat
  • Persistence: Finishing things once they are started
  • Zest: Approaching all things in life with energy and excitement

Humanity

Those who score high in humanity have a range of interpersonal strengths that involve caring for and befriending others. Here’s an overview of the core character strengths that are classified under humanity.

  • Kindness: Doing favors and good deeds
  • Love: Valuing close relations with others
  • Social Intelligence: Being aware of other people’s motives and feelings

Justice

People who have a number of character strengths under justice tend to possess civic strengths that underscore the importance of a healthy community. Here is a closer look at the core character strengths that fall under justice.

  • Fairness: Treating all people the same
  • Leadership: Organizing group activities and making sure they happen
  • Teamwork: Working well with others as a group or a team

Temperance

Those who score have a number of character strengths that fall under temperance tend to have strengths that protect against the excesses in life. Here’s an overview of the core character strengths that fall under temperance.

  • Forgiveness: Forgiving others who have wronged them
  • Modesty: Letting one’s successes and accomplishments stand on their own
  • Prudence: Avoiding doing things they might regret; making good choices
  • Self-Regulation: Being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions

Transcendence

People who have a number of character strengths that fall under transcendence tend to forge connections with God, the universe, or religions that provide meaning, purpose, and understanding. Here’s a closer look at the core character strengths that fall under transcendence.

  • Appreciation of Beauty: Noticing and appreciating beauty and excellence in everything
  • Gratitude: Being thankful for the good things; taking time to express thanks
  • Hope: Expecting the best; working to make it happen; believing good things are possible
  • Humor: Making other people smile or laugh; enjoying jokes
  • Religiousness: Having a solid belief about a higher purpose and meaning of life

How Character Strengths Are Used

One of the main reasons for assessing character strengths is to use that information to understand, identify, and build on a person’s strengths.

Knowing a person’s character strengths provides a lens through which psychologists, educators, and even parents can see not only what makes a person unique, but also understand how to help that person build on those strengths to improve situations or outcomes.

For example, one widely researched strategy involves encouraging people to use their signature strengths in a new way each week. In fact, one study found that having adults do this every day led to increases in happiness and decreases in depression for six months.

This study then became the basis for several more studies that utilized the same methods for older adults, employees, and people with traumatic brain injuries. Another approach involves focusing on a person’s lowest-rated strengths in an attempt to enhance those areas of their lives.

Research also has demonstrated the living through a traumatic event can impact character strengths. In the six months following the 9/11 attacks, the character strengths of religiousness, hope, and love were elevated among U.S. respondents but not among European respondents.”

Source:

Gordon, S. (2020, June 30) What are character strengths? https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-character-strengths-4843090

Character Strengths in the Workplace

“Why are character traits important in the workplace?

When you know your best character traits, you can work to strengthen them. This can help you in a multitude of ways from advancing your career and achieving goals to developing relationships and growing your professional network.

Character traits can also help you make decisions that align with your values. For example, you might identify with being courageous, and as a result, you could be more inclined to stand up for what you believe in or make a tough call at work.” (Indeed.com, 2021)

Why might we want to focus on our strengths?

Well, it might seem obvious, but here are two documented reasons why we might want to focus on our strengths and learn how to recognize and articulate the.

Research Points To Two Main Reasons to Focus on Strengths

By: Dr. Ryan Niemiec

You have the power to positively influence your well-being by focusing on your highest character strengths. Research shows that if you have an active awareness of your character strengths you are 9x more likely to be flourishing. But, how do they work to create such a positive effect?

Here are two ways:

1. Amplifying and growing the positive

“We can examine the importance of character strengths through a positive lens. Research has shown many positive benefits of using character strengths across physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual domains. The benefits of character strengths have been demonstrated in many industries—especially business and education—but also in healthcare, coaching, and psychotherapy and counseling, to name a few. Specific benefits of character strengths have been linked with each of the main elements of well-being: positive emotions, engagement, meaning, positive relationships, and accomplishment. They’ve been connected with many other benefits that help us amplify the positive in our life, such as self-acceptance, autonomy, goal progress, physical health, passion, and resilience. The newest research is showing that techniques for helping people boost their strengths can have important advantages over techniques that focus on correcting their deficits. But focusing on the positive is not the same as ignoring the negative.”

(from The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality, p. 18).

The research is clear: character strengths are your unique pathways to those positive goals people pursue in life. In other words, name something realistic and positive you want in your life. Fill in the blank here: ______. With whatever you say, one or more of your character strengths -perhaps used in a way different from what you’re used to – can help you get there. They’re not just the pathway but they’re also the expression of fulfillment in life (see short summaries of hundreds of studies showing positive benefits of character strengths).

2. Learning from and reframing the negative

Research shows that humans demonstrate a number of biases in our thinking. One of those biases is the tendency to remember and be affected more by negative events than by positive events. Problems and upsetting emotions stick with us like glue. Strengths can help bring greater balance to this equation. We need negative experiences to learn from, motivate us, warn us, and help us grow. But those experiences should not define us. Reflecting on our strengths can help us offset those negative experiences, can help us figure out our natural best way to avoid them in the future, and can remind us that we have unique resources available to us in negative situations… Research studies have also shown that the character strengths help us manage problems more effectively. For example, using character strengths has been linked with less stress and improved coping in the workplace, less friction in classrooms, less depression, and fewer physical symptoms, to name just a few settings in which character strengths have been studied (from The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality, pp. 18-19).

It’s not only comforting but exciting to know that you are carrying these “tools” within you wherever you go. They are there for the sorrow, the ecstasy, and the laundry.

Source:

Niemiec, R. (2019) Research points to two main reasons to focus on strengths. https://www.viacharacter.org/topics/articles/research-points-two-main-reasons-focus-strengths

 

The Connection Between Character Strengths and Work

What’s Missing in Your Career

By: Dr. Ryan Niemiec

How are strengths linked to careers? This is one of the most commonly asked questions I receive in my character strengths workshops. The short answer is: We need more research on the topic.

Here’s the long answer: Traditional career counseling focuses on many different categories of strength, such as interests, skills, and talents. Tools that tap into your areas of interest and passion (e.g., the Strong Interest Inventory) have long been used by career counselors. They are also interested in how you build certain skills that might be related to particular careers–communication skills, programming skills, team-building skills.

And if you have a particular raw talent, a career counselor might suggest you pursue a related field. For example, if you’re great at drawing, consider a career in graphic design. Of if you love dealing with numbers, consider pursuing accounting, mathematics, or engineering.

This is where the answer gets interesting. Whatever your interests, skills, and talents might be, they aren’t the only types of strengths that are important when pursuing (or changing) a career.

THE MISSING PIECE

What is rarely discussed in career counseling is character strengths. Skills, interests, and talents are quite different from character strengths, or the positive traits that are essential to a person’s identity. They are universal aspects of our personalities that are valued by people of all cultures.

Drawing connections between character strengths and career transitions, career decision-making, and career counseling is quite new (after all, the VIA Classification was first published in 2004). At present, more is unknown than known about the possible effects.

That said, early research is promising. Hadassah Littman-Ovadia, one of the leading researchers in positive psychology, published a study with her colleagues that compared strengths-based career counseling with traditional counseling. Unemployed job seekers were the subjects who received four sessions of character strengths counseling, or four sessions of traditional counseling. The researchers found that the career counseling that embedded character strengths was far more successful in helping people become employed (80%) compared with the traditional career counseling (60%).

BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL CAREER WITH YOUR STRENGTHS

Taking the VIA survey and understanding the 24 character strengths–and especially your signature strengths–can help you thrive in your current career, or discover a new path. Here’s what to think about:

– Self-awareness: Be mindful of your signature strengths, middle strengths, and lesser strengths. Since deeper awareness often leads to insights which can lead to change, it is possible that strengths knowledge (and practice therein) can lead people to becoming more informed on possible career paths they might choose. Note that this is very different from an authority or counselor telling someone or guiding them in a direction based on certain results.

– Positivity: There’s pleasure, engagement, and meaning in knowing what your strengths are, which can empower you to use them with greater frequency, intensity, or duration; and/or with greater balance, fluency, and savvy in your career endeavours.

– Productivity & Relationships: You become more engaged, productive, and happy when you use your strengths at work, so taking the VIA survey is important for helping to catalyze strengths awareness, appreciation, and use. Align your strengths with your current work tasks (e.g., use creativity on a work project), and brainstorm new ways you might be able to use them too. You could even consider talking to your manager (or direct reports) about how to optimize your (or their) best qualities on the job.

WHEN STRENGTHS BECOME WEAKNESSES AT WORK

The VIA survey is not recommended to be used in career matching, including matching specific careers to a particular character strengths profile, determining you’re not in the right career because of your profile, or determining you should not pursue a career path because of your profile.

There are many different kinds of jobs in any particular career. For example, an accountant might have a non-social, isolated bookkeeping job, or a creative and social job as a chief financial officer. It is not clear how to match jobs and careers with VIA survey results (yet). Career selection is complex and nuanced, and is a highly individual and personal decision.

Source:

Niemiec, R. (2014) What’s missing in your career.  https://www.viacharacter.org/topics/articles/what%27s-missing-in-your-career​​

THE CHARACTER STRENGTHS SURVEY

The Character Strengths Survey is free and available to everyone.  If you are interested in learning more about your strengths, click on the link below.

Character Strengths Survey

After taking the survey, you will see your signature strengths displayed.  Scroll down a little bit and download your free VIA Character Strengths Profile. The first 5 strengths listed are your Signature Strengths, strengths 6 – 19 are your Middle Strengths, and strengths 20 -24 are your Lesser Strengths.

“… the creators of the VIA assessment tool stress that the character traits not included among a person’s signature strengths are not necessarily weaknesses, but rather lesser strengths in comparison to the others. Likewise, the top five strengths should not be interpreted in a rigid way because there are usually no meaningful differences in their magnitudes.

 It’s also important to note that the 24 character strengths that these tools identify have been studied across cultures. Research shows that these strengths are linked to important components of individual and social well-being, even though different strengths predict different outcomes.

For instance, growing evidence indicates that the character strengths hope, kindness, social intelligence, self-regulation, and perspective all guard against the negative effects of stress and trauma. Meanwhile, successful recovery from physical illnesses is associated with increases in bravery, kindness, and humor. Additionally, identifying and utilizing character strengths also can help young people experience academic success, develop tolerance, delay gratification, and value diversity.” (Gordon, S., 2020)

Want to learn more about the individual character strengths?

The VIA Institute on Character website has a wealth of information about each of the character strengths.  Once you click on the link below you can hover over a strength and get a snapshot description and you can click on ‘Learn more’ to get in depth information on that particular strength.

The 24 Character Strengths

Final Overview of the Virtues and Strengths

At the end of the video, Brian suggests to consider two questions:

  1. How have you engaged these strengths in the past?
  2. How can you use them more often this week?

What do you think your answers to these two questions would be?

Final Thoughts

While skills are learned, strengths are often considered a personal characteristic that each of us have. We all have the ability to strengthen both our skills and our character strengths.  To start, however, we need to be able to:

  • define them (i.e. What are skills? What are character strengths?),
  • identify which ones we have (i.e. What skills do I have? What skills would I like to develop? What are my Character Strengths?), and
  • articulate them to others (i.e. Currently, I have the following skills _____. I would like to develop these skills: _______.  My Character Strengths are ______, which means ______.).

Being able to answer these questions will give you clarity moving forward and will also be a huge help to you when you are on your next job interview!

License

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Career & Life Planning by Dawn Forrester and Eden Isenstein is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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