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The Relator Theme: How You Can Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

The Relator Theme: How You Can Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Relator definition: People exceptionally talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

I keep my friends as misers do their treasure, because, of all the things granted us by wisdom, none is greater or better than friendship.

--Pietro Aretino, 16th century Italian poet

Those with Relator among their Top 5 themes of talent resonate with the truth of this sentiment -- and they understand the rarity and value of true friendship. Relator is selective, tending to be slow and cautious in establishing relationships. There is an authenticity about those strong in Relator talents that draws others to them -- that makes others want to trust them.

This is a paradoxical attribute of Relator: People tend to want to open up to those high in the Relator StrengthsFinder theme -- far more so than those with high Relator want to open up to them until they get to know them. Authentic, genuine relationships take time, and those high in Relator willingly and often enthusiastically invest time and energy into deepening their most important relationships.

Because true relating takes so much time and emotional investment, Relators can't form deep relationships with everyone they meet. Sure, they have acquaintances and colleagues, and they may truly enjoy meeting new people and making a connection. But there are just a few that "make the cut" and become part of the trusted inner circle. Transparency, intimacy and trust are the hallmarks of Relator.

Relator: Helps and Hinders

When you coach those with Relator in their Top 5, helping them claim both the "helps" and the "hinders" of the theme is critical to productive aiming. Some common helps and hinders of Relator include:


  • Your authenticity makes you someone people naturally trust. You keep confidences well, and as such, you can be a guide, adviser and mentor.
  • You invest in relationships, and this gives you a perspective into others that lasts over time. You've seen those you've invested in grow and change, and this enables you to authentically celebrate accomplishments.
  • Because you value authentic relationships, others feel valued when in your presence.
  • You care about people -- and they know it. This gives you a unique ability to deliver the "hard truth" and have difficult conversations -- because those on the receiving end know you care.


  • You are selective in your relationships. Be careful about giving others the impression that you have an "in" group and an "out" group -- particularly if you are a team leader.
  • Because relationships take time, you can be slow to warm to others. This can give you the reputation of being aloof and unapproachable.
  • The depth and length of your relationships may cause you to make excuses for others' bad behavior if you know them well. Take care to be honest and fair in your assessments of others.
  • Because you place a high value on trust, you may have a hard time moving on when trust is broken. This can give others the impression that you are unforgiving and intolerant of mistakes. Realize that second chances are central to strong relationships, and that trust can indeed be rebuilt over time.

Relator: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim your Relator CliftonStrengths theme -- or any -- talents at a particular goal, an individual must have: 1) self-awareness about the theme's power, edge and vulnerabilities; 2) an understanding of how the theme finds expression in day-to-day thinking, feeling and behaving; and 3) knowledge of how to regulate the theme to maximize the potential positive outcomes that can be realized through intentionally applying a strengths-based approach. Coaches can help clients with strong Relator talents by exploring the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Relator: Those with Relator among their Signature Themes form deep relationships and are most productive when they are working alongside colleagues they know well. As a result, they can be great collaborators and bring encouragement to others on their team.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Relator: Because those with strong Relator talents are most comfortable around those they know best, others can perceive and experience them as cliquish and exclusionary. This can lead to resentment and division, especially for Relators who lead a team.


Coaches can assist clients in realizing and claiming the expression of Positivity by helping them explore instances in the past when this theme was particularly useful. To facilitate this exploration, coaches can ask the following questions:

  • Who are the people you most depend on -- at work and other areas of your life? How do you reciprocally help each other?
  • How do you know where you stand with your supervisor? How can you strengthen that relationship?
  • What has been your greatest success -- either at work or in your personal life? How did your Relator talents contribute to that success?
  • Who at work brings out your best -- your best work, your best attitude, your best self?


Self-regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to amplify, accelerate, activate, soften or moderate that talent. For example, sometimes those with strong Relator talents can be so intent on deepening existing relationships that they ignore those they don't know well. In situations like these, a coach can help the client find other talents that might yield better results. Also, coaches can help clients explore different theme combinations. Below are some possible combinations that will either amplify or moderate Relator:

Relator: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • How would you describe a great day at work? How do your Relator talents contribute to those best days? How can you have more of those days?
  • What is the greatest value your Relator talents contribute to your team? How have you communicated that to your manager or team leader?
  • What are some strategies you can implement to be more transparent and trusting with your colleagues?
  • What are your most important relationships -- in all areas of your life? What will you do in the next year to strengthen these relationships?
  • Has there been a breach of trust in any of your important relationships? Is the relationship worth repairing? If so, what steps can you take to rebuild it?

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:


Al Winseman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic and Command.

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