If love is a top strength for someone, do they have to "leave that strength at home" when they go to work each day? The answer is NO! But, this is a common misconception among many clients I have worked with.
In fact, here’s a conversation I often have with managers, CEOs, and executive coaches who take a look at the 24 character strengths in the VIA classification and say this:
Manager: “I see how the strengths of perseverance and self-regulation are important at work because employees can learn to work hard, be disciplined, and focus their attention.”
Ryan: “Yes, that’s right!”
Manager: “And, I can even see how strengths like curiosity and gratitude have a place at work because employees can ask one another curious questions, express interest in projects, and they can be grateful and appreciative of the positive that exists at their company.”
Ryan: “Yes, all 24 of the character strengths are highly relevant in the workplace.”
Manager: “But what about love? There’s no place for love in the workplace. This stuff has its limits, right?
Ryan: “Is it not relevant to express warmth and care to your coworkers? To show support and genuineness when a co-worker is upset? To offer the practice of careful listening to customers and thoughtful, mindful speech with your boss?” These are examples of love.
The Expression of Love
Then they get it. Love simply takes on a different form but it is still love. Love will often be expressed differently at home and in one’s closest relationships, perhaps with hugs, kisses, and loving touch. That is not the way love is expressed in most workplaces.
This shows that all 24 character strengths – which are parts of all of us – not only have a place at work but they are what really matters most in the workplace.
Why Use All Strengths at Work
In the last five years, there has been an ever-increasing array of connections between character strengths and work outcomes. Here are 10 of the research benefits to using your character strengths at work right now!
- Higher work performance
- Less counterproductive work behavior
- Better stress management
- Greater harmonious passion
- Greater flourishing at work
- More work-as-a-calling (meaningful work)
- More positive work experiences
- Greater work engagement
- Higher job satisfaction
- Increased strengths use the next day
Take simple action
- Express love at work by being warm, caring, and genuine to each person you interact with.
- Spot character strengths in your colleagues, boss, and subordinates.
- Tell one co-worker today why you appreciate them for their particular character strengths.
- Align your signature strengths with your daily work tasks.
- Use one of your highest strengths in a new way.
Dubreuil, P., Forest, J., Gillet, N., Fernet, C., Thibault-Landry, A., Crevier-Braud, L., & Girouard, S. (2016). Facilitating well-being and performance through the development of strengths at work: Results from an intervention program. Journal of Applied Positive Psychology. DOI 10.1007/s41042-016-0001-8
Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2015). The relationships of character strengths with coping, work-related stress, and job satisfaction. Frontiers in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00165
Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2012a). When the job is a calling: The role of applying one's signature strengths at work. Journal of Positive Psychology.
Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2012b). The application of signature character strengths and positive experiences at work. Journal of Happiness Studies.
Hone, L. C., Jarden, A., Duncan, S., & Schofield, G. M. (2015). Flourishing in New Zealand workers: Associations with lifestyle behaviors, physical health, psychosocial, and work-related indicators. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57(9), 973-983.
Lavy, S., Littman-Ovadia, H., & Boiman-Meshita, M. (2016). The wind beneath my wings: The role of social support in enhancing the use of strengths at work. Journal of Career Assessment.
Littman-Ovadia, H., Lavy, S., & Boiman-Meshita, M. (2016). When theory and research collide: Examining correlates of signature strengths use at work. Journal of Happiness Studies. Advance online publication.