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  • Jeff Resweber & Wendy Horning

Confrontation or Feedback: How do you like it served?


For the last seven months I've been working as the acting Human Resources Director for my oldest client (over 23 years with them as IT Director). I ran into a brick wall attempting improve processes and implementing change.

You're Temporarily Blocked

The brick wall's building material was people. I reached out to Wendy Hornung, a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, to help me understand all the people that made up that wall and what they were made of. I needed a unique approach to understand each individual and how to get through to them. I needed to know how to communicate the forthcoming changes in a way that made them receptive and open to be an active participant in the improvement process.

Wendy suggested that everyone take the strengths test and fill out a survey we developed so she could write a two page summary of how each person's top 5 strengths made them unique. It explains how they work, think, and react. And most importantly how to deliver the news of change and constructive feedback to them in a way they would appreciate and accept. Using this summary we met in small groups several times to enrich each employee's self-understanding and their understanding of each other.

This tool, along with strengths & communication coaching has been so helpful that I want to share my summary with you. Get your team's summaries and coaching today!

Strengths Synthesis: Top 5 Intuitive Combo

Analytical, Ideation, Strategic, Deliberative, Learner

Your strengths are strong in the “Thinking” themes. You have the gift of objective analysis with Analytical as a dominant theme. You naturally look for patterns in the way things are set up, literally in processes, and in the ways systems interact with each other. For you, people come into the picture when you see that a glitch is being repeated, or a process is not resulting in meeting a specific goal.

Your Ideation and Strategic bring innovation with the scaffolding to build systems by considering the best option. You have an instinctive sense of what ideas will work (strategic) and with your Deliberative and Analytical, you will give it a very thorough vetting before you suggest implementation.

One of the cool things about your strengths combination is that with Ideation and Learner, you can be open to innovation and being in an environment that needs creative solutions, yet you can take those ideas, and spend some time alone so that you can analyze the data, consider what you have learned, and come up with new ideas. Your thoroughness and thoughtfulness garners credibility with others.

Since your Top 5 are focused on thinking and minimizing risks, when it comes to relationships, using your Learner, to ask questions to understand others will help you relate more effectively. You also can let others know, that is how you learn what is going on with them, since we all process our experiences very differently. Your Deliberative can enhance how you use your Learner in sensitive situations, buy asking questions, and using your creativity to help others open up, or think about situations differently, by presenting different scenarios or options, is a constructive approach.

Also, because of your strong thinking skills combination, you can come across as impartial, which can be an advantage when dealing with others since you will not be communicating from an emotionally loaded position.

Balcony/Basement

Using your strengths in a way that energizes you, and enhances your productivity and environment is how you know when you are in the Balcony.

Your strong thinking themes are your gift because of your objectivity and ability to listen for facts.

You may be going into the basement if you only listen for facts when you are working with lots of emotional people, and try to solve problems with data and systems alone. In this way you would miss out on buy in from people that happens more often through emotions than the mind. This is a place where you might utilize others who have stronger Relationship Building themes, use your Learner strength, and get their emotional responses and concerns. Even though relationship building themes are about people, they also like to get things done as a team. They tend to be focused more on what people need to work together rather than the system.

Ideation, Analytical, Strategic, Deliberative and Learner are amazing together in the balcony. You have the ability to come up with ideas. If you find yourself being negative about Ideas, or overthinking different options, your Deliberative may have taken a descent into the basement. You might want more facts, to prove (Analytical) that something is a good idea, when you know on a gut level it will work, but you don’t like to trust your gut as much as your mind.

Deliberative is invaluable in the balcony because it provides a tremendous ability to carefully consider what could be problems. In your case, if you lean on your Thinking themes so heavily, that the emotional parts do not get as much consideration, you would be going into the basement. When you allow yourself the time to review and analyze and use Ideation (when new innovative approaches are needed) you are in the balcony.

Your strategic can recognize different possible plans, but you can keep considering different ones that don’t get implemented because you keep coming up with different approaches, or finding things wrong with what you have come up with, and this would be in the basement for Strategic, Analytical and Deliberative.

Defining a goal, and using your Deliberative at the beginning to highlight what needs to be considered no matter what, is a Balcony approach to using Deliberative, and will set you up to use your other talents constructively to understand problems, and come up with solutions.

Confrontation/Feedback

When it comes to confrontation and feedback, your Thinking Themes are dominant and you are cautious about drawing conclusions when it comes to more personal interactions.

Instead of responding to what you “feel” you naturally bring things into your head for analysis because of the risk you sense on the emotional level. Ironically, your approach when it comes to emotions is to help and analyze what is going on. You do it in a detached manner, because you are sensitive, even though you prefer that others do not see you that way. It’s not that you have to spill your guts to connect with others, but you innately sense when people are dealing with a challenge and can help them figure it out.

You do prefer people to get along and work together, and you don’t mind helping them get there. You do it by noticing the details, which the other person may not see in themselves. This could be your Learner in action, and it is a good use. It is flattering and compassionate to express to someone else that you want to understand their position better, and gain insight to help them. These processes that you work on with others, help you grow, and develop different skills to analyze problems, and feed your innovative ideas.

If someone comes to you in a highly emotional state, you are not super comfortable navigating that, and it is ok. This is why understanding what you need to help is important so you can help others. The other person needs to be calm enough for you to communicate with them, where they can express what is going on, without it being completely raw and ungrounded. That emotional state is not conducive to how you learn and the way you extract information to help others.

Using your Deliberative, to let them know you are wanting to speak with them when they are in a better place sets the tone.

Learning all you can about people, is a good way for you to collect information that you can later use to build strategies, and it helps you learn how to not get unsettled or disrupted by others who could be confusing to you.

It is not always emotions that can throw you off, sometimes, other people are not honest, or do not take full responsibility for their emotions and actions. This would not make sense to you and could spin you off into a tireless analysis that leads nowhere.

Having a clear goal in mind will help you set parameters and expectations that will mitigate potential confusion over vague or inconsistent follow through in others. Begin with the goal, and use all those thinking skills to create the best pathway utilizing input from others.


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