Use Your Strengths to Create Your Success

Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things.  1) Get to know yourself.  Use this self knowledge to better understand the people around you.  2) Build strong, lasting relationships with the people in your life.  3) Resolve conflict in a positive manner.

Interpersonally competent people have strong characters.  Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman have developed a list of 24 character strengths that they say “exist and are valued in cultures around the globe.”  In other words, these are universal character strengths.  They call their framework the VIA (Values in Action) Classification of Strengths and Virtues.  Take a look…

Strengths of Knowledge – Related to acquiring and using new information

• Creativity
• Curiosity
• Love of learning
• Perspective (wisdom)
• Open-mindedness

Strengths of Courage – Related to maintaining will power in the face of opposition

• Bravery
• Persistence
• Integrity
• Vitality

Strengths of Humanity – Centered on relationships with others

• The capacity to love and receive love
• Kindness
• Social intelligence

Strengths of Justice – Supporting the best possible interaction among a group

• Citizenship
• Fairness
• Leadership

Strengths of Temperance – Those that protect from excess

• Forgiveness/mercy
• Modesty/humility
• Prudence
• Self-regulation

Strengths of Transcendence – Those that form connections with a larger whole

• Appreciation of excellence and beauty
• Gratitude
• Hope
• Humor
• Spirituality

This is a very interesting list – and a great guide to interpersonal competence.  If you embody these 24 strengths you are likely to be able to build solid lasting relationships.

In which of these are you strong?  In which of these do you need some work?

Here are my top three strengths:

• Curiosity
• Persistence
• Hope

On the other hand, I need to work on these three:

• Open-mindedness
• Self-regulation
• Gratitude

How about you?

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are interpersonally competent.  Interpersonally competent people understand themselves.  If you’re wondering how to better understand yourself, the Values in Action Classification of Strengths and Virtues is a great place to start.  Take out a sheet of paper list the 24 strengths – Creativity, Curiosity, Love of Learning, Perspective, Open-mindedness, Bravery, Persistence, Integrity, Vitality, Capacity to Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence, Citizenship, Fairness, Leadership, Forgiveness, Modesty, Prudence, Self-regulation, Appreciation of Excellence and Beauty, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, Spirituality — down the side.  Create three columns: 1) A real strength for me.  2) I’m OK at this.  3) I need to work on this.  Put each of the 24 strengths into one of the three columns.  Use your strengths to help you build relationships.  Work on making those in which you are just OK a strength, and on those on which you need to work to the point where you are OK.

That’s my take on the Values In Action Classification of Strengths and Virtues and how you can use it to become more interpersonally competent.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  Better yet share your top and bottom three as I have done above.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. Deanna McNeil says:

    I really enjoyed this post because as a person in a technical job, these are some soft skills that get overlooked sometimes in place of technical “skeelz”. These interpersonal ones are the ones that really make a difference in life though!

  2. Thanks for your comment Deanna:
    You’re right — no matter how good your technical skills are, you have to be interpersonally competent if you want to succeed in your life and career?
    Which ones are your strong point?
    Which ones do you need to work on?
    All the best,

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