The VIA list of strengths classification consist of personal strengths that can be used as a way to help individuals recognise and utilise their specific character strengths, like the name suggests: “Values in Action Inventory”. The VIA classification system developed by Seligman and Peterson, is a way of using positive psychology as opposed to traditional psychology in a way that focuses on an strengths rather than weaknesses to handle difficult situations. Peterson and Seligman identified 6 virtues that consist out of different individual strengths each to make up a total of 24 character strengths. The concept behind these strengths are that utilising them in a positive way, will increase a person’s feeling that they are their authentic self. According to Niemiec, these strengths are universal, meaning they come across humans of different cultures all over the world. These traits that manifest through an individual’s personality consist of our abilities to feel, think, do and live with purpose and meaning.
If-then plans, also known as “implementation-intention” are goal oriented mechanisms to help motivate towards specific actions when situations call for it. Creating specific, detail-oriented plans will decrease the risk of failing when trying to implement strengths to strive for goals. With if-then planning, specific scenarios are anticipated and a concrete plan is already formed and can be immediately initiated.
In a preliminary study done by Proctor, Tsukayama, Wood, et al., it was found that students who took part in VIA strength-based interventions had a higher life satisfaction score on the Student’s life satisfaction scale, than students who did not participate in the interventions.
Using if-then implementation to handle conflict
My top 5 VIA strengths in order include 1. Humour, 2. Kindness, 3. Creativity, 4. Judgement, 5. Social intelligence.
Humour – I believe for me, humour, is a realised strength that I am actively aware of and is an intrinsic part of my personality. It is not something I do on purpose, but I believe over the years I have subconsciously increased my sense of humour because of the mostly positive reaction I get out of people, which makes sense and links well with my social intelligence strength.
Kindness – I think kindness for me is a learned behaviour, coming from my mom who is very kind (being a nurse) and possibly contradictory from my dad who is not as kind, as I have realised I have the tendency to completely shy away from unkind people, thus, I have increased kindness as a result of someone’s unkindness.
Creativity – This strength is definitely of recent unrealised. In high-school I actively engaged myself in creative manners on a regular basis, whereas the last 2 years I have been less and less creative. I have the potential to create so many things and I am talented at drawing, but I never have any motivation or energy to do these things. In the workplace, my creative thinking is also often stifled because of the rigid type of people in my workplace. This caused me to not be able to have any creative outlets/ideas because of the overall negativity I get in return (which I struggle to deal with). I can entirely confirm that what Maslow says about human potential is true: “What human beings can be, they must be.”
Judgement – This strength is entirely a learned behaviour. According to the VIA institute on character (2019), judgement means analysing before making decisions. This strength is of a corrective nature, meaning exactly what is happening with my creativity. I realised being creative and enthusiastic with very rigid and close-minded people is not beneficial to my work environment, thus I use judgement regularly to counter my way of thinking to keep my superiors happy. This is obviously not good for my own happiness, but in this chapter of my life, it is the best option. I also use my judgement to withhold my humour in situations that does not call for it.
Social intelligence – I believe this strength is part learned and part realised. It is easy for me to be sociable amongst different people, but I learn as I go how to behave a certain way with certain people. This is also sometimes difficult for me, because I get very negative and withdrawn when I have to change myself for the situation.
Adaptability – This is not a VIA strength but I believe I am a highly adaptable person which is what most of my strengths consist of, except for creativity. This is important because in any challenging situation, adaptability is key to optimally dealing with it utilising your strengths.
According to Committee for children blog (2019), before any type of if-then plan can be implemented, the “if” needs to be identified. This means the exact type of trigger needs to be known to be able to implement the plan towards a goal. Thus, the “if” is directly equal to a challenging situation that an individual wants to be able to solve.
A challenge I personally experience is actively dealing with conflict or standing up for myself in my work environment. I continuously avoid confrontation and I don’t know how to handle a situation that can result in conflict.
Dijksterhuis, Aarts, & Midden (1999) found that individuals with clear if-then plans in mind will identify the “if” situations much faster than individuals who have goals in mind. This means, in order to achieve a specific goal, the triggers/cues must be clearly known, which will result in the plan being acted out automatically.
It is important, however, to examine if the plan will be beneficial towards the goal, or cause further complications (Parks-Stamm, Gollwitzer, 2009: 368). Thus, the if-then plan should not be set in stone immediately, but it can be continuously changed.
My main goal that I want to achieve is to be able to stand up for myself in a calm and confident manner, and not delay my course of action, which leads to more procrastination and finally the situation blowing over, leaving me frustrated and angry. If I handle conflict situations immediately, my emotions will not accumulate and finally get the better of me in an outburst.
In my if-then plan, I will utilise mainly 2 of my strengths, but I can also use some of my other more natural strengths in situations where I see fit. Thus, I will be using my judgement and social intelligence in all situations. The 2 strengths I will be focusing on is humour and kindness.
The specific situations should be known so that I can actively implement my “then”.
My “if” will be when there is a situation at work, that makes me feel as if too much is asked from me and that I won’t be able to handle.
I will firstly use humour as a light way to immediately voice my opinion. That way I won’t come across as angry and the situation can hopefully be resolved with compromise. The other person involved will also be made aware of my feelings which is a step in the right direction.
If I feel humour is not appropriate in this situation (by using judgement and social intelligence), I must immediately voice my opinion in a kind and calm manner.
If I get given too much work, I then will immediately voice my concern in a light hearted humorous way. (IF HUMOUR IS APPROPRIATE IN THE SITUATION).
If I get given too much work, I then will immediately voice my concern and ask for reasonability in a kind and calm way.
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