A CliftonStrengths Theme Spotlight
"People exceptionally talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters." -The Gallup Organization
I'm going to be vulnerable with you here.
I've taught undergraduate Communication courses for the past 14 years. And even before that, I was a Communication Studies major, passionate about the process of communication and public speaking. Needless to say, communication has always been my thing. I've build a career on it!
So when I first took the CliftonStrengths assessment while I was in college, I would have put money on it that I had Communication in my Top 5.
I did not.
In fact, it's #21 (out of 34!) for me. I was shocked and a little embarrassed.
"How could it not be there?"
"Should I not go into the Communication field?"
But here's the thing! We all get to the same outcomes using different talents and strengths. Whether you are a Director of Strategic Planning without a dominant Strategic strength, a Lead Analyst without an Analytical strength, or a Communication professor without a Communication theme, fear not! Success in a given role is not dependent (at least not entirely!) on your Top 5.
Learning my strengths has helped me see nuance and uniqueness in myself and in others. While I don't have a dominant Communication theme, the reason I am so passionate about communication is because of my Individualization, Harmony, and Belief strengths. Individualization helps me think critically and purposefully about my unique audiences so that I can craft meaningful messages specifically for them. My Harmony strength explains why I care so deeply about teaching others to communicate with credibility and kindness. And my passion to equip students with the crucial skill of public speaking, even when I know it's one of the most feared and hated courses of all time? That's my Belief strength.
We all get to the same outcomes using different patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior. That is an important axiom if you want to understand and implement the strengths-based approach.
Ok, I digress! Let's talk about the Communication theme.
The Talents of People High in Communication
People high in Communication are passionate about crafting meaningful messages that resonate with audiences. The type of messages, and the type of audiences, will differ from person to person of course, but one thing is certain - these people are gifted with the ability to connect with others through words.
Those high in Communication are able to bring ideas to life and they and focus attention on messages that need to be heard. Storytellers at heart, they have the natural ability to choose just the right words to capture the attention of others. They often use a lot of figures of speech and concrete language when communicating. In other words, they paint pictures for their audiences. Additionally, they tend to have charisma, energy, and presence to contribute when working alongside others.
Communication is at the heart of what it means to be a human being - to establish and maintain relationship with other people, to send and receive messages that resonate, and to influence others to action. While this is of course true for all human beings, those high in Communication really need the presence of other people in order to thrive and flourish. They tend to think and learn best when they have time to process with others, and they often refer to themselves as "verbal processors" who need to get their thoughts out in conversation in order to be able to filter and refine ideas and action plans.
As I mentioned previously, the types of preferred messages and types of audiences will differ from person to person. A person high in Communication might love public speaking, performing, writing, or creating materials that tell stories for others. Just to name a few, I personally know teachers, graphic designers, attorneys, realtors, CEOs, coaches, marketing specialists, and sales managers who are high in Communication. While their specific performance objectives and audiences are different, their passion for creating and sending messages is the same.
The Temptations for People High in Communication
Because people high in Communication are passionate about sending messages, they are sometimes guilty of being poor listeners. They are energized when communicating, but can fail to give ear to others, thus forgetting how important active listening is to the communication process. Additionally, if they don't learn to communicate well about their Communicate talents, their need for a sounding board or audience can be interpreted as self-absorbed.
When working in teams and groups, sometimes those high in Communication can be perceived as "show-offs" because they are quick to jump in and assert themselves, share opinions, or tell stories. And because they love to communicate, they are also prone to talk even when it isn't fruitful or necessary to do so.
Another temptation for the person high in Communication is what we might call "TMI," or too much information. One teacher I know who is high in Communication told me:
"Sometimes I catch myself rambling on and on about completely irrelevant stuff because I got excited about something in my head and wanted to share it with everyone in the class. My students look at me like I've lost it! I've always been a long-winded verbal processor with no filter!"
One thing that won't come through in that above quote is how passionately she delivered it when she said it to me! Even while describing a perceived vulnerability about herself, she was energetic in delivery, and even laughing at herself.
Speaking of Communication....
Here are a couple of quick ideas to get you thinking about how to leverage and self-regulate if you've got a dominant Communication theme:
Watch for opportunities to capture people's attention, craft messages, tell stories, teach or train, or host events. You are a naturally gifted conversationalist and these opportunities will provide you with chances to influence others on behalf of your team or organization.
Consider partnering with people high in Strategic Thinking themes. These individuals can provide you with vision and ideas to bring to life, and you will help them craft stories that resonate with their intended audiences.
When working with others, make sure you are open about your need to talk things out during the decision making process. Sometimes others will hear your "verbal processing" as commitment or clear delegation, when you just needed to verbalize your ideas. Communicate about your Communication theme!
At ROI Talent Development, we try to help people fall in love with every single talent theme, even if it isn't dominant in their own theme sequence. Because when we all take the time to understand and appreciate one another, we build happy and healthy workplaces where employee talents are valued and developed.
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