Do you have weaknesses you just can’t seem to lose? Maybe you interrupt too much? Or solve problems when you should be building relationships?
This perspective may help.
When clients tell me about their weaknesses, I generally ask them for examples of how the skills in question worked or didn’t work. A common pattern emerges, though it’s not universal.
One example is my student/client with great listening skills who interrupted a lot. Anyone conversing with him could tell his comprehension and recall were excellent, so he wasn’t weak in that area. Yet he got poor reviews. Why? Because he interrupted. But he didn’t interrupt to annoy, though he achieved that outcome. He interrupted to be efficient and save time.
Efficiency and saving time are hardly poor values.
Here is the perspective: what appears a weakness to others tends to be a strength in a different value unrecognized by the other or inappropriate at the time.
In his case, he was valuing efficiency and acting on it. The other person didn’t know it and ascribed the cause of his or her feeling not being listened to to my client’s listening skills.
So what do you do if your values result in others perceiving weaknesses in you?
First, awareness: be aware your values differ from others’. Be aware you might not be weak in that area, so just developing yourself blindly may not help.
Next, recognize two major paths — to adjust your values and behavior to meet others’ expectations or to inform others of the difference between your values.
After this awareness and understanding, act on them.
For example, my client could start to recognize the value of making the other person feel listened to or the value of listening to find out details he may have missed interrupting. This recognition may lead him to listen more attentively and thoroughly, preventing him from interrupting.
Alternatively, when he felt confident the other person would understand the value of interrupting, he could begin with something like “I prefer not to interrupt, but based on what you just said …”
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees