Our strengths are powerful — until we overdo them.
What’s an overdone strength? Basically, it’s the old adage that too much of a good thing can backfire. In fact, when we rely on a strength so much that we don’t see when we’re overdoing it, it can be perceived as an annoyance, and even worse, a weakness.
At Comvia, we use an assessment tool called the Strength Deployment Inventory® (SDI). It reveals why you do what you do, and how you relate to others. It also gives you a portrait of the strengths you are more and less likely to use at work — and the ones you tend to overdo.
My top 3 overdone strengths are:
Wow, I sound like a real peach to work with, huh?
No, that’s not what these results are saying at all. What my overdone strengths are telling me is that my Supportive strength can come across as Self-sacrificing if I overdo it — or lean on it too much when the strength isn’t working for me in a given situation. The same is true for my Self-confident strength, which can be perceived as Arrogant. And my Perseverance can be read as Stubborn to people when I let my strong will run amok.
Can you see how a heightened awareness of how I can be perceived is valuable?
I certainly do. I never intend to be seen as arrogant or stubborn. I also don’t want my Supportive nature to be misconstrued as Self-sacrificing, unless it really is.
So, while my overdone strengths are well-intended, the fact is that they can generate negative perceptions in others. The trick is scaling back their frequency, duration, or intensity when needed, and knowing how to turn perceived weaknesses into strengths by using them at the right time.
Knowing how you and your team may limit their own effectiveness by overdoing strengths can help reduce conflict and improve relationships. Try to observe when what typically works well for you starts to backfire. It might be that what you think is helpful at the time (because you usually get results from certain behaviors) is actually having the opposite effect on others.
I know I’m guilty of persevering beyond the limits of others. That’s when I’ve been called stubborn. It doesn’t feel stubborn to me, but I can see how other people can see it that way.
An ounce of self-awareness is worth a pound of credibility.