Using StrengthsFinder to Build Strong Friendships

The other day I turned 41 years old.

I am not sure how this happened or where 40 years have gone, but having a 4 as the first number in your age provides perspective you may not have had when you were 30, or 20.

On that recent celebration of my birthday, I took time to run. My run was on a beautiful island near La Crosse, Wisconsin at sunrise. The Mississippi River valley is beautiful this time of year with all the leaves in peak color. During that run I reflected on a number of things including many of the great people life has put in my path.

My Friend John

One of the most influential people in my life is my friend John. We have been friends for over 30 years. This long tenured friendship is put into perspective when working with the volleyball players I coach who are only 18 years old. 30 years is a long time to be friends with someone! How many friends do you have that have been with you for decades?

In high school and college there were times, like in any friendship, when John and I had disagreements. John was the one who usually figured out a way to fix the problem, and was always thinking about other people more than himself. He had a way of talking things through and being patient with those around him.

During those early years of our friendship, I was very self-focused, and not patient with others. I was quick to point out other people’s flaws and see how I could beat them in whatever competition presented itself.

John has been a faithful friend, always helping me with any problem that came my way. He had the innate ability to understand what I was feeling and help me see a different perspective.

In 2000, During graduate school, I was exposed to StrengthsFinder and started to encourage my friends to take the test. As part of my training with Gallup, we completed 10 1 to 1 coaching conversations with people who had taken StrengthsFinder. I wanted John to be one of my 10. He received the results of Communication, Activator, Adaptability, Empathy and Harmony. My Strengths are Focus, Achiever, Significance, Competition and Woo.

During our 1 to 1 conversation, suddenly so much more of who John was became clear to me

Why Strengths Matter to Friendships

Knowing John’s Strengths helped deepen our friendship in a number of tangible ways:

  1. I know John lives ‘in the moment’ with his Activator and Adaptability. He is spontaneous and can go with the flow. Knowing this about him, and that I am more planned out in my thinking, helps me understand his perspective.
  2. As a full time counselor, John is in a great Strengths fit professionally. All that advice he gave me and others over the years translates well into his career.
  3. John’s Activator and Harmony want to resolve conflict quickly. I can count on him to say what he thinks and speak clearly into challenging situations. You always know where you stand with John.

John was able to understand more of where I was coming from through my Strengths. While we don’t share any Strengths, we do make a great complimentary pair when tackling challenges that come up in either of our spheres.

Buying a Boat

A few years ago we bought a boat together. Boats are also known as holes in the water where you pour your money. Earlier this season I was very excited to put our boat in the water for the first time. My son and I drove to the lake, put our boat in and were ready for a day in the sun.

The boat would not start.

No matter what I did, nothing happen. I quickly called John and we figured out that the battery was dead and it was a simple replacement. John’s Adaptability and Communication helped talk me off the ledge of being really frustrated and ruining the day. My Focus and Achiever was able to locate and secure a new battery in the same day. John knows he can count on me to get things done. Knowing each others Strengths makes dealing with problems seamless and Strengths based.

John and Family on Boat

I trust his recommendations for any boat issues that come up. Knowing he has Harmony, Activator and Communication, I know he is telling me what he thinks needs to be done. He knows he can count on my Achiever and Focus to execute and make it happen.

Be a StrengthsFinder Enthusiast!

Having friends and relatives take StrengthsFinder  to understand their Strengths, and raise self-awareness of talents, helps all relationships become stronger. Not only has it helped me in my relationship with John, but many of my personal and professional relationships as well.

Have any of your friends taken the Clifton StrengthsFinder? After they received their results, did their themes surprise or confirm who you knew them to be? How has this information changed your relationship?