Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success. If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things. 1) Get to know yourself. Use this self knowledge to better understand the people around you. 2) Build strong, lasting relationships with the people in your life. 3) Resolve conflict in a positive manner.
Interpersonally competent people have strong characters. Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman have developed a list of 24 character strengths that they say “exist and are valued in cultures around the globe.” In other words, these are universal character strengths. They call their framework the VIA (Values in Action) Classification of Strengths and Virtues. Take a look…
Strengths of Knowledge – Related to acquiring and using new information
• Love of learning
• Perspective (wisdom)
Strengths of Courage – Related to maintaining will power in the face of opposition
Strengths of Humanity – Centered on relationships with others
• The capacity to love and receive love
• Social intelligence
Strengths of Justice – Supporting the best possible interaction among a group
Strengths of Temperance – Those that protect from excess
Strengths of Transcendence – Those that form connections with a larger whole
• Appreciation of excellence and beauty
This is a very interesting list – and a great guide to interpersonal competence. If you embody these 24 strengths you are likely to be able to build solid lasting relationships.
In which of these are you strong? In which of these do you need some work?
Here are my top three strengths:
On the other hand, I need to work on these three:
How about you?
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are interpersonally competent. Interpersonally competent people understand themselves. If you’re wondering how to better understand yourself, the Values in Action Classification of Strengths and Virtues is a great place to start. Take out a sheet of paper list the 24 strengths – Creativity, Curiosity, Love of Learning, Perspective, Open-mindedness, Bravery, Persistence, Integrity, Vitality, Capacity to Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence, Citizenship, Fairness, Leadership, Forgiveness, Modesty, Prudence, Self-regulation, Appreciation of Excellence and Beauty, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, Spirituality — down the side. Create three columns: 1) A real strength for me. 2) I’m OK at this. 3) I need to work on this. Put each of the 24 strengths into one of the three columns. Use your strengths to help you build relationships. Work on making those in which you are just OK a strength, and on those on which you need to work to the point where you are OK.
That’s my take on the Values In Action Classification of Strengths and Virtues and how you can use it to become more interpersonally competent. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts. Better yet share your top and bottom three as I have done above. As always, thanks for reading.