Interpreting Attributes: When a Positive Becomes a Negative
One of the most-dreaded interview questions might be “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.” You may be thinking part of the difficulty in the question comes in admitting your weak points to a relative stranger. What’s even potentially scarier is that sometimes sharing perceived strengths offers additional insight into what might actually be perceived as a weakness.
Flip Sides of the Same Coin
Many times what we perceive to be our primary strengths and weaknesses are actually more similar than we initially think. Case in point, it’s all in the perception. The Muse recently offered evidence of how perfection, playing the team-player, being the social butterfly and too much focus have the potential to cross the line, turning a positive into a negative.
From the time we were little, many of us heard the phrase “practice makes perfect.” Every time we’re tempted to do a little less, those three little words may pop up uninvited into our subconscious. But what could be so wrong with wanting to get it right? In many cases, it’s not the desire to get it right. It’s the time it takes at the expense of other important things. If you’re someone who gets lost in the details and loses the big picture, a project might not ever ship out on time and on budget.
Here’s another playground lesson re-visited for the adult world. If you can remember, there was often someone on the playground who loved to call the shots and someone else happy to just go along. While this works for a little while, those who always choose the agreeable route may find themselves feeling generally run over and less-than a part of the team. Recognizing and implementing decisions and projects according to strengths on a per-project basis can keep teams and ideas fresh.
Plays Well with Others
Most of us spend a lot of time at work, and having people we like and trust at work make us more likely to want to keep that job. All workplaces benefit from kind co-workers, the ones who are willing to listen or give an encouraging word when things get tough. Many in the workplace benefit from the kindness and courtesy of the friendly listener but if this turns into a full-time counseling job, it’s time to remember everyone has a dedicated job to do.
We get it, finding quiet in an open workspace can feel next to impossible without the noise-cancelling headphones. In this cocoon of silence, you’re probably cranking out work, but it’s hard remain a part of a well-oiled team giving off vibes of leave me alone. The next time you need to kick it into quiet mode, consider posting a small sign that lets co-workers know if you’re on deadline or if you have time for interruptions. This small courtesy removes the guessing if a question or conversation will be well received or not.
A Little Self-Awareness
There’s a good chance that each of us has a few or a lot of all of these tendencies, depending on the time or day. Elements of each of these strengths/weaknesses have the potential to make us better at our job, a better co-worker or employee or could just make being at work a little easier. By remaining aware of our strengths and weaknesses, it’s easier to be more in control of how we contribute to the work environment we want to be a part of.