Would you go to work with a booger stuck to your nose? With spinach in your teeth? Not knowingly. When you become aware of it, you remove it. Why? Because you have a desire to look your best. Looking your best makes you feel good. You might even call it a need to look your best, and spinach between your teeth doesn’t meet that need.
What happens if you aren’t aware and you find out later you have been walking for the last three hours with spinach in your teeth? Are you mortified? Do you criticize yourself for missing it? Do you wonder why your friends or colleagues didn’t mention it? Do you ask yourself, "Why didn’t I check my teeth after I ate?" Does your mind continue in a downward spiral of self criticism?
Are you seeing the role of awareness and needs?
We fear being seen as ‘needy.’ In our society ‘needy’ implies that we are in some way inadequate, immature or selfish. Unfortunately, this cultural conditioning has sometimes inadvertently blocked our awareness and education of our needs.
Without awareness of our needs, we often get stuck unconsciously waiting for someone or something outside of ourselves (i.e. our work environment) to meet them. This results in disengagement, frustration, or behaviors such as blaming and criticism of ourselves and others. With this type of toxicity, it is no surprise that "in the workplace, the percentage of U.S. workers in 2015 who Gallup considered engaged in their jobs averaged 32%"(1).
As a Strengths Strategy® coach, awareness of strengths’ needs is critical to effective strengths use. First, we help clients see and gain a whole new literacy around their strengths. Next, we help clients become aware of the needs and those environmental conditions that allow them to bring the full contribution of their gifts and strengths to their work and personal lives.
This can be life changing. Clients begin to see patterns where they were stuck waiting for someone or something else to meet those needs. Once they are aware, they can make requests or design their environment to meet those needs to unleash the full contribution of their strengths. This transforms their energy, performance, and confidence. They step up and stand out in the world instead of waiting in frustration.
What might it look like waiting for someone else to meet our needs?
- Waiting to be able to use our strengths and talents.
- Waiting to have our hard work and successes noticed.
- Waiting to be recognized as fit to be promoted.
- Waiting to be able to share our ideas.
How might it feel waiting for someone else to meet our needs?
Our energy, performance and relationships suffer when our needs aren’t met. If we aren’t aware of them how we can meet them? The least of what happens is we feel frustration, the worst is we end up in a toxic place where we experience blame, criticism, defensiveness and more.
Understanding my strengths and their needs was transformative for me. The results of my Clifton Strengthsfinder 2.0 Assessment gave me a whole new language to talk about my strengths. However, where I gained the greatest momentum was becoming a Strengths Strategy® coach, learning about my strength’s needs. I often wonder how my life would be different today if only I had had this understanding 30 years ago.
At work I often felt suppressed-stuck in a box waiting to be let out. One of my top five strengths is Ideation. Learning this helped me understand WHY I felt suppressed. It gave me awareness of why I was fascinated by ideas and loved brainstorming.
It explained why I had a constant unrelenting stream of ideas. It explained my creativity. As I looked back on my life, I saw how very early my strength of Ideation was at play.
I wasn’t aware that I had a need for an environment where ideas were welcomed. I need to be able to express those ideas and to explore them. I don’t need you to like them, but in order for this strength to be fully unleashed, I need my ideas to be heard. I need to explore out-of-the box solutions and possibilities and being in a place where the status quo was accepted was de-energizing for me.
When I didn’t have autonomy to find new ways of approaching old problems it triggered me into frustration. Micromanaging me by forcing me to follow someone else’s way of accomplishing something was dispiriting. I need to know the goal or objective and have the freedom to accomplish it using the best route for me using my own strengths and creativity.
When our needs go unmet, we may unconsciously fall into a pattern of turning up the volume and go into strengths overuse. For example, Communicators need to feel heard. If someone high in Communication doesn’t feel heard, they may turn up the volume by repeating points they have already made, going into strengths overuse. By being aware of needs, we are empowered to make requests or design environments to get our needs met. This allows strengths to be used effectively.
There is a big difference between the effective and ineffective use of strengths. When strengths are used effectively we are happier, have increased engagement, improved relationships, increased productivity, performance and energy.
Becoming aware of our own strengths and needs gives us more compassion and curiosity to understanding others’ strengths and needs. It is time to shed the old cultural idea that having needs means being ‘needy.’ We all have them and having awareness empowers us to take steps to get them met. This not only enhances our work and personal lives, but the work and personal lives of others.
Being needless is overrated.
(1) Employee Engagement in U.S. Stagnant in 2015. http://www.gallup.com/poll/188144/employee-engagement-stagnant-2015.aspx
Would you like to know more? Contact Mia Turpel at (614) 245-0301.
Mia Turpel is a strengths focused executive leadership consultant, a certified Strengths Strategy® Coach, and is the founder of Performance Support Partners, LLC. She helps create joyful workplaces by coaching and training business and technical leaders to discover and apply their strengths effectively to engage themselves and their teams, increase energy and performance, productivity, customer satisfaction and increase profits. For more information, visit Mia’s website at www.performancesupportpartners.com.