CliftonStrengths: Restorative

By: Taylor

Before coming to UMD, I had absolutely no idea what the CliftonStrengths were. All I was aware of was that I needed to take it for class (UMD Seminar) and that we’d be discussing it in class. In all honesty, the test instructions say it takes about 30-45 minutes to finish it, and well…I finished it 15 minutes before class was going to start. My top five strengths ended up being restorative, woo, input, learner, and consistency. Restorative is a strength I never realized I had and have only began to see more in myself.

Restorative defined by Gallup, “People strong in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.” Before taking the CliftonStrengths for Students assessment I never considered myself a good problem-solver, but after I realized a lot of situations in my life revolve around having it as a strength. Often times in any given situation, if a problem arises I am quick to find the solution and move onto the next issue.

Image: block letters
Text: Strength in Restorative

I’ve found that often times this strength can have its downsides when used socially. Sometimes the speed in which you solve a problem can be seen as lack of sincerity or empathy towards the situation. It’s important to your peers to understand you’re trying to lend a helping hand, and remembering to be patient with others who don’t necessarily have restorative as a strength. Having restorative as a strength, you could also find yourself constantly figuring out your peers’ problems. Remember, sometimes they’ve got to do it themselves.

When it comes to the workplace and determining someone’s career path, being a restorative you’re frequently looking for a new challenge to solve, lean towards a job that will do just that. Some examples CliftonStrengths give on their website are jobs in medicine, consulting, computer programming, or customer service (just a few of many). Despite the frustration that follows with dealing with customers, I’ve unintentionally chosen a major (Communication) that will require a lot of human and customer interaction following plenty of problems to solve.

If you’ve find yourself without restorative as one of your top five Strengths, it doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at problem-solving. All career paths are still open to anyone with any specific strength, with that we’re able to combine strengths with others to create a dream team. Finding and using your strengths are important in understanding yourself; knowing some of the awesome characteristics you have and knowing what you lack as well.

Of Possible Interest:
Incorporating Strengths Into Your Resume
CliftonStrengths for Students – all our blog posts on the topic

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Amador Loureiro

Being Connected

By: Whitney

This week’s featured Strength is CONNECTEDNESS! Connectedness is knowing everything happens for a reason, and everything that happens is interrelated. Connectedness is not one of my strengths, but I found it really interesting to read and learn about because I know there are a lot of people who use the phrase “everything happens for a reason”. Connected people tend to think about the big picture; they not only see the trees but also the whole forest. They think all people are connected and part of something bigger, so they are careful not to harm or exploit others because they feel that by harming others, they are also harming themselves.

Connected people are generally very kind and caring. They also accept people for who they are. Connected people are good at making sense out of situations that are very confusing to others. They do this by figuring out how the situation is related to other aspects of life. They also tend to connect the past to what is happening right now and also to what will happen in the future.

Connectedness

How can you apply connectedness to your future career goals? 

Goforward.harpercollege.edu suggests you first volunteer. When you volunteer, you can really see where your passion lies. I think this is a good tip for everyone, not just people who have connectedness as a strength. They suggest volunteering for connected people because they can then connect these experiences to specific values and also the type of work environment you want to look for when seeking for future employment opportunities.

Some organizations they suggested are Habitat for Humanity, Peace Corps, or Teach for America. They suggest a career field that involves working with people and serving others. A job that involves a lot of routine is not normally the best choice with someone who has connectedness as a strength. By working with people, you will have a great sense of pride and importance in your life, which brings job happiness.

Connectedness in Classes

I find that personally, it is a lot easier to remember things if you can relate them to a real life experience or use conversations to relate back to the topic you are discussing. I believe this would be especially true for someone who has connectedness as a strength. People who are strong in connectedness should pick classes where they are able to do this. I took an interpersonal communication class, and I think this would be a great course for a connected person because it is all about relationships between people. Study groups may also be very beneficial in the process of recall on tests or applying concepts into everyday life.

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Analytical as a Strength

By: Ashley [Achiever|Learner|Intellection|Realtor|Empathy]

As described by CliftonStrengths for Students, someone with the strength analytical is defined as a person who searches for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation. They tend to dissect ideas and examine them carefully. Personally, analytical is not one of my top 5 strengths, though I do believe that it does relate to some of my other strengths. If I were to describe this people with this strength, I would say it is those who are realistic, calculating, and seek the truth through valid data and not their emotions.

Analytical

In the words of CliftonStrengths for Students, analytical people see themselves as objective and dispassionate, and they like data because it is value free. Personally, I see this as more like analytical people like data because it is solid and irrefutable; it is fact not fiction. This can be a negative of this strength, because wanting to know why someone thinks what they think or how they came to the conclusion of what their theory is can seem rude, but they just want proof. This can also work to your advantage, because this makes analytical people good at weighing evidence, interpreting data, and then reaching a solid conclusion.

The working environment that meshes well with people of this strength are environments that allow the freedom to explore and think. Some people that work well with this strength are people who have strengths of empathy, communication, relator, or positivity. These types of people will help you convey your thoughts in a way that others can understand and show them that you’re critiquing their ideas, not them.

Some fields of work that fit with an analytical theme are accounting, finance, sciences, forensics, computer technology, and journalism because these fields involve data analysis and problem solving to reach an end result. CliftonStrengths for Students says to “explore jobs that allow you to make decisions based on your eval­uation of facts, data, tangible evidence, and research findings.” This would bring one to think that working with data, engaging in research, and critiquing ideas tend to bring out your best.

I guess the best advice that can be given to someone with this strength would be to ask questions; that’s what analytical people are good at. Ask people in careers that interest you. By asking questions and gathering data, you will be able to easily deduce what career is right for you.

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Being a Learner is Fun

By: Taylor [Achiever|Input|Intelligence|Learner|Strategy]

As defined by CliftonStrengths for Students, those with the Learner strength enjoy the experience of learning. The process of learning is more exciting for them than the end result. They strive for new experiences and information that align with their interests. They do not seek to be the master of all trades but enjoy the process of gathering new information. CliftonStrengths for Students also says, “the genius of the learner talent is that you not only love to learn; you also intuitively know how to learn best.”

List of strengths; Learner in green

The learning strength applies to me in a variety of ways. When coming to college, I had a hard time determining a major – not because I didn’t know what interested me, but instead because I had too many things that inspired me. Each semester I love attending the first classes and getting a taste of a variety of different subjects. However, I get bored with courses quickly. I am constantly trying new things like yoga, golf, and piano lessons. All of these are new found interests of mine and the initial process of learning them is exhilarating. There are also little things I’ve realized about myself once my learner strength was identified. My Twitter feed, for example, is flooded with news channels and professionals in a variety of fields. I enjoy reading nonfiction books and watching documentaries. I also am confident that I want to attend graduate school someday.

If the learner strength applies to you, I recommend looking for careers that will encourage continuous learning. You will be energized by the challenge to keep up. Consider companies that allow you to do short-term projects. Spending short amounts of time learning new things only to be met by new projects and ideas – this idea also applies to the field of consulting. Also, take advantage of any continuing education your company is willing to subsidize whether it be a certification course or earning your master’s degree.

Interestingly, my professors have the Learner strength. If you’re interested in learning more about this strength, ask what they find rewarding in their careers. Also, come down to the Career & Internship Services office if you want to learn about your other strengths!

Read about the 33 other Strengths

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CliftonStrengths for Students – Responsibility

By: Abby [Futuristic|Communication|WOO|Responsibility|Realtor]

It is time for our weekly CliftonStrengths for Students theme!

This week, we’ll be talking about Responsibility, my fourth strength.

Responsibility is a word everyone is aware of, but in the world of CliftonStrengths for Students, it has a slightly different interpretation.

CliftonStrengths for Students defines Responsibility as:

People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

List of Strengths, Responsibility in green

Responsibility is like a monkey on my back but in the most positive light. If someone asks me to do something, I feel very obligated to follow through. When I commit to completing a project,  volunteer to help a friend, or offer to run an event…I feel psychological ownership over it. I will not let my work be poor because it has my name on it. It also works for the obligations I keep for myself. I feel a need to maintain my values.

Most people say they feel obligated to follow through, and need to keep their values in check, but for me, it is a deep, unfaltering purpose. It can’t be shaken.

CliftonStrengths for Students says, “[for a Responsible person,] excuses and rationalizations are totally unacceptable.” Which makes me laugh because every time I think of giving an excuse, I think about the poem that says, “excuses are the tools of the incompetent.” I believe in that quote and won’t let myself give them.

The negative part is that their conscience can create guilt out of minimal things and bring stress. Also, when people know that you’re dependable, they turn to you with many tasks. The Responsible person can get overwhelmed with duties quite quickly – they take on more than they should.

Here are tips from the book StrengthsQuest: Discover and Develop Your Strengths in Academics, Career, and Beyond, that can help use your Responsibility strength while thinking about careers and career planning.

  • Make an appointment with a career counselor to talk about how to begin the career planning process. The sense of psychological ownership this step creates will engage you in the process and energize you to follow through.
  • You often take initiative, and you always follow through, so you do not need a lot of supervision. Select work in which you can be given more and more responsibility as you progressively achieve.
  • Building trusting relationships with others is important to you, so choose environments in which you can surround yourself with dependable, trustworthy people. When selecting a team to join, be sure the other members are known for pulling their weight.
  • You will be most productive in environments where you can fully follow through on the commitments you make to others.

Responsibility has been a character value for years and years. I am proud of my responsibility, and feel responsible to keep it 😉

Read about the 33 other Strengths

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Being the Mediator: Harmony

By: Meg [Input | Strategic | Futuristic | Individualization | Activator]

HARMONY: People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement (CliftonStrengths for Students).

List of Strengths; Harmony in green

People with Harmony are very good at keeping the peace. Whether it’s mediating disputes or getting two different groups to work together, people with Harmony are the ones who see both sides and attempt to get others to see them too. They are the perfect person to have in a collaboration effort, as they will strive to get groups to meet halfway. Harmonizers often see the things people have in common and will use that to connect people in the midst of a dispute.

For example, those with Harmony will sit calmly at a meeting in which two developers are arguing over what design is better, and try to help them decide on a design that combines the best of both. When someone is venting at them, they will listen and nod, and then try to get them to look at it a different way, whether to solve the problem or just calm them down. Now that you know what Harmony is, what do you do to work with and develop it?

As someone with Harmony, planning your career path to make sure things go smoothly may be helpful. The knowledge and experience of a Career Counselor may help you as you make decisions. Talk to people who work in jobs that you’re thinking about and ask them what they find rewarding about their job. Think about taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to find what working environment works best with your personality.

Jobs that involve working with people may be a good fit. With your ability to see sides, tolerance, and willingness to compromise, you’ll be a good person to have on the team (In order to complement your skills, you’ll want an Activator or Command on the team to, in order to keep the pace moving and settle disputes that can’t be mediated). Find an environment where the general consensus makes the decisions, and you can work behind the scenes to help make that consensus. Structure is important to: a job where things are regular and stable may be more to your liking than one that is always changing and causing upheaval.

Trying Honing your Harmony skill with these tips:

  1. Work with diverse groups, it’ll help with your mediating skills
  2. Let your opinion be known if you disagree. Sometimes, that can lead to a win-win situation more than being quiet.
  3. Know when conflict is necessary, and team up with those that can help
  4. Remember: Having Harmony is NOT avoidance of conflict, don’t let others (or yourself) get away with dissing your Strength!

Read about the 33 other Strengths

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No One Brings You Down: Positivity

By: Ashlee

Just this past weekend, my office put on an event involving over 150 people. Lots of details to keep in order! As these events usually go, there were a few unexpected twists to the evening that caught us momentarily off guard. When a handful of things went wrong, one after another, my co-worker started to lose her composure and fret about other possibilities that could happen. Using my positivity, I gave her a brief pep talk, and we went back to work. The evening turned out fabulously! My co-worker later came up to me when we were cleaning up to thank me for the mini pep talk.

List of Strengths; Positivity in green

I tend to go with the flow and not let the lingering details of a mishap bother me. I’m quick to smile and am constantly on the lookout for the positive side in any situation. These traits helped me out that evening in more ways than one. Why? Because I rely heavily on my strength of Positivity.

Think of the classic question: Is the glass half empty or is the glass half full? If one of your Top 5 Strengths is positivity, you’re seeing the glass half full. It’s a trait many people wish they could possess, according to the Gallup Business Journal. This positive energy draws people to be around you. A positive person’s enthusiasm is contagious. People want to join in with you because your passion drips off everything you care about. We all know somebody who never ceases to have a bad day, and you don’t know quite how they do it, but they always manage to make you feel better and pumped up about any project you’re working on.

I never like finding myself in a tense situation, especially with my co-workers or my family and friends. Whenever it happens, I tend to be the one trying to lighten the situation. I have Ellen DeGeneres to thank for that particular outlook in life. Ellen DeGeneres is one of those people who just radiates positivity. I don’t remember where she said it, but her words carried the following message: “No matter what the setback, one should never lose their sense of humor.” Negative energy is toxic, and no one should have to breathe it in. My positivity won’t allow the cynics to drag me down. If anything, those rejecting the positive energy only push me to work harder and strengthen my conviction.

Unfortunately, there are always going to be negative people in the world. Try to avoid those types if you can. Make friends with other positive types, and let them feed your energy, as you will in return. You might also find yourself needing to explain to others that you’re not being naive. You know that bad things will and can happen. We who possess the Positivity Strength simply prefer to focus on the good things. Pessimists might seem wiser; they might even sometimes be right — but they are rarely achievers (and, incidentally, optimists have more fun).

How can you put your positivity to use? Here are a few ways to put your ‘positivity’ into action:

  1. Anywhere you can highlight the positive is where you will excel. A teaching role, a marketing role, an entrepreneurial role, or a leadership role will put your positive outlook to great use. In fact, you might even get a little dramatic…but that’s what’s so contagious about your attitude.
  2. When others become discouraged or are reluctant to take risks, your attitude will provide the push to keep them moving. Over time, others will start to look to you for this “lift.”
  3. Deliberately help others see the things that are going well for them. You can keep their eyes on the positive.
  4. Arm yourself with good stories, jokes, and sayings because people will rely on you to help them get over above their daily frustrations.
  5. Plan activities for your friends and coworkers that will recognize their achievements or add a little fun to an ordinary workday.

If Positivity isn’t one of your top 5 strengths, don’t worry! You can still be a very positive person in life (you probably already knew that!) It’s good to understand the strengths of those who do possess Positivity as one of their top 5. By taking the time to understand your coworker or friends who never cease to find the silver lining to any situation, you will be better prepared to celebrate the successes and take the praise they offer in stride.

Read about the 33 other Strengths

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