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Communication: Learning to Love All 34 Talent Themes

Communication: Learning to Love All 34 Talent Themes

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 1, Communication
  • Learn how themes form the core of CliftonStrengths and how to understand and appreciate your own -- and others' -- strengths, as we focus on Communication.

On a recent Theme Thursday Season 1 live webcast, we discussed the Communication theme with Gallup Learning and Development Consultant Heather Wright.

People with strong Communication talents bring attention and focus to important messages. They can find words for not only their own thoughts and feelings, but for those of others. This gives them the ability to reach out and connect with others in meaningful ways.

The Communication theme is predominant in people who have a natural ability for verbal expression and who can provide conceptual clarity and social connection. Communication is not only a social theme -- it also helps facilitate and guide understanding in conversation.

People with Communication typically value being understood; they want people to get what they're saying. Curt Liesveld, Gallup's Learning and Development Consultant who leads Theme Thursday discussions, points out that those with high Communication are not only great speakers, they are also great listeners who value dialogue.

Heather says that the Communication theme energizes her. She loves to have an audience and feeds off of the conversation. Heather leads several Gallup strengths development courses, so her Communication theme makes her feel right at home when standing in front of a group.

It's important to remember that every person will use a particular strength in a different way. While Communication fuels Heather to get up in front of an audience and speak, your Communication might make you feel comfortable in a more intimate setting. If you have high Communication but don't fully relate to some of the things Curt and Heather are describing, don't be alarmed -- this is just another example of what makes your strengths unique!

Learn more about the Communication theme and how people like Heather use it in their everyday lives. Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

Jim Collison 0:12

I am Jim Collison, and live from the Gallup campus here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, recorded on October 23, 2014.

Jim Collison 0:20

Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the Clifton StrengthsFinder themes, one theme at a time. And today's theme is Communication. If you have questions, comments or contributions during the webcast, we do have a live chat room available for you. And it's really the best way to interact with us in the show. If you're on video live, just look directly below the video window. There's a chat room. If you don't see the chat room, your browser may not be able to render it. There's a link down there as well, you can click on it and oftentimes, it'll show up there as well. But the chat room is the best way to do that. Log in, you can create a guest account if you'd like, and just tell us who you are so we can call you out with your questions during the program. If you're listening to the recorded version or you need custom strengths solutions for small, medium or large organizations, we do that as well. You can contact us: And don't forget to visit the Gallup Strengths Center, actually a bunch of additions, and we just put the new ticker for the number of people who've taken StrengthsFinder; we crossed over 11 million. So Woot! Woot! for that and super excited that's up there on the page. Go to for all your coaching resources and training needs. You can also catch this video on both streaming and downloadable audio and brand-new RSS feeds available as well -- we talked about that a minute ago -- out at Curt Liesveld is our host today. Curt works as an Advanced Learning and Development Consultant here with me on the Riverfront. And Curt, great to see you again. And welcome to another Theme Thursday!

Curt Liesveld 1:42

Thanks, Jim. It's great to be here. We're talking about Communication. And I did a little checking. I think we've kind of completed -- this will be our 14th theme that we've talked about on Theme Thursday, which means we have 20 left to go. So in about a year we'll have these all done. So keep tuning in. Today, I'm really happy to have with us Heather Wright. Heather's one of my colleagues as a Learning and Development Consultant. And we're going to introduce her a little bit later. She'll, she'll talk and tell us about communication, which is one of her Signature Themes. So Heather, it's great to have you on the call!

Heather Wright 2:16

Glad to be here, Curt!

Curt Liesveld 2:19

I'm going to do my what I have kind of come to call the Theme Overture. In a symphony, there's usually this song at the beginning of the, the symphony that kind of takes all the themes of the symphony and kind of has a kind of a brief overview. And so I'm going to do just a brief overview or, or overture, of Communication and just talk a little bit about the things that I've observed as I've studied that people who have this theme. And then we'll have Heather kind of add her understanding to that as well.

Curt Liesveld 2:49

Really, Communication is is really about people who have this natural ability for verbal expression that brings conceptual clarity and social connections. So it's both a social theme, but I think it also adds, adds to understanding. In fact, one of the things that I, I really have sensed that people with Communication really value is they value being understood. They want people to get what it is that they're saying. And, and the way that they do that, I think, sometimes it certainly could be about people who are very good at presentations, about speaking. But I think it's also about -- it's not just a monologue; it's also dialogue. It's about the conversation. It's the give and take, it's, it's both talking and listening, the dialogue.

Curt Liesveld 3:40

And so I think at its best, at its most mature version, I find that people with Communication are very good conversationalists. And it's in the, in the, in the context of a conversation that understanding really comes from. The Domain that this particular theme is a part of is in, in these Domains that we have is the Relationship [Building] Domain. But I also can see how this could also be a theme that gives people some Influence. I often talk about verbal influence -- people who influence other people with what they say and how they say it.

Curt Liesveld 4:15

And so I would just suggest that we might also think about it conceptually in that Influent -- Influence Domain. Some of the nouns that I kind of think go with this particular theme are words like talker, presenter, conversationalist, storyteller, verbal processor, explainer and maybe even writer. I wouldn't be surprised that there are some people with this theme are -- might be people who like to write, express their thoughts on words on paper.

Curt Liesveld 4:51

Adjectives [to describe Communication] would be talking, presenting, processing, transparent, interactive, expressive, captivating and even entertaining, I think, could certainly go with this. This particular theme, I think, occurs about 13% in people's Top 5. So it's certainly not the most frequent, but it's not the most infrequent. It's kind of in the middle. In terms of the, the theme that is most likely to be paired with this particular theme -- and this is really not a surprise; it's Woo. And it's really a pretty high, high relationship: .45. If you have Communication, .45% of the time, you're gonna also have Woo in your Top 5.

Curt Liesveld 5:39

The least likely paired with Communication is Deliberative. And that makes some sense. Just like Deliberative is kind of not paired frequently with Woo, it's also not paired frequently. So I think the whole idea of being expressive and kind of open are, are things that characterize this Communication theme.

Curt Liesveld 6:02

I thought about the relationship between themes. And we can talk a little bit with Heather about this when we get her on here. But I think about themes that could certainly moderate Communication and, and have a, have an effect on, on kind of softening it. It could be possible to have Deliberative with Communication. I just said it wouldn't happen very often, but it did -- a person who, who had it might be a more careful communicator.

Curt Liesveld 6:28

Or Responsibility. Heather, I think that maybe Responsibility is pretty high for you. And so I think about someone who is an ethical communicator. I mean, to some degree, your, your Responsibility might determine how you say something; you want to say it in the right way. Intellection and Communication could be someone who, who needs to think a little bit before they talk. And then, finally, Individualization, which I think is another of Heather's themes. And this is really about someone who customizes their Communication. They don't say the same thing to -- in the same way to everybody; they really want to customize it to the audience or to the person.

Curt Liesveld 7:09

There might also be some themes that I think could intensify Communication. For example, someone that has Belief might be a very passionate communicator, a very -- speak with a lot of conviction about a value or a cause that is important to them. People with Futuristic might be inspiring communicators, as they paint pictures with words. People with Woo could be very charming communicators, and people with positive -- Positivity might be actually kind of optimistic communicators or even charismatic kind of communicators.

Curt Liesveld 7:48

So those are themes that kind of intensify that particular theme. I was thinking about some, some, maybe some quotes about Communication, and one of them that I heard, you've all heard the phrase, "Silence is golden." I think someone with Communication might say, "Silence is not golden!" And, and the reason -- here's the reason why I think, to some degree, silence can easily be misinterpreted. What does it mean that you're quiet? Usually when we speak, it's easier to understand how someone's feeling.

Curt Liesveld 8:27

I also came across another quote that I thought was a kind of a good one. I have this kind of interest in, in the soul of a person. So this is what a person by the name of -- the name kind of is not printed here, so I'll get it later. But here's what this person said. "One's language is a spiritual location; it houses your soul. If you were born in America, all your -- all essential communication, your deepest conversations with yourself, will be in English. Your English is the principal instrument of your humanity."

Curt Liesveld 9:02

And so, to some degree, there's a real connection between who you are and the words that you speak. And I think that's especially true with, with Communication. And then one more: "Words are singularly the most important, powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively, with the words of encouragement, or destructively, using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble." And those words are from Yehuda Berg. And I think it really kind of sets the stage for the, the value of words.

Curt Liesveld 9:43

So Heather, let's kind of bring you in here now and have you be the, the expert of the day here. How would you -- if you had to kind of define Communication for yourself, what would be your definition of this Communication theme?

Heather Wright 9:58

Well, it's so funny because every one of those nouns that you used, I can claim and own those. But for me, the Communication, it isn't just me talking or presenting; it really is, like you mentioned in your Overture, Curt, that idea of a dialogue, a conversation. For me, Communication energizes me. The, the act of the conversation, the act of the presentation in the response of the audience is very energizing for me. So when I think about Communication, for me, it's how I put the right message together for the right audience, in order to have impact.

Curt Liesveld 10:40

You said that almost all of these things that I said, the nouns fit you. Was there anything that I said that you -- that didn't fit you? As I kind of, because, because I don't necessarily think that all of these things apply the same to everybody.

Heather Wright 10:54

No, I think, I mean, I was jotting some notes as you were talking. And it really is, you know, I think a lot of times on the surface, especially when I work with people around StrengthsFinder, they really do identify Communication as the talking. You know, they think it's the, it's the, "I love to talk; I love to present." And I think the piece that they don't value and appreciate enough about Communication is the part where it makes us good listeners or good conversationalists.

Heather Wright 11:22

I do a lot of coaching. And I think sometimes my Communication is what helps me hear what people are saying and really understand it and appreciate it and be able to do something with it. I also sometimes can hear what they're not saying. And my Communication can ask the right questions to draw that out of them. And I think that's a piece that my Communication does that, on the surface, people don't always account for in their understanding or appreciation of the Communication theme.

Curt Liesveld 11:52

You know, is there anything else that you would add? Are there any pieces that, you know, I didn't identify? Because obviously, I can't, I don't, I don't know everything about these themes. Is there anything you'd add about Communication?

Heather Wright 12:04

You know, I think, I think part of it is, and you started to get into it a little bit in your quotes, even, I think it's the power of the language, it's the power of the words. It's the ability to pick the right word and see how that perfect word has impact. So -- and maybe it's because my Maximizer's intertwined with my Communication, but when I send even the simplest email, I always reread it and think about, OK, am I using the words that are going to get the reaction that I want from, from the recipient of this email? Am I, you know, are any of my words going to offend someone? Or are they going to take that the wrong way or interpret that the wrong way?

Heather Wright 12:50

I even have trouble -- I'm not a good texter. I text a lot. But I write things out. I use full words; I don't use little abbreviations and things because it doesn't seem to do justice to the words. You know, I feel like I can't shortchange those words. And it could be my 10th grade English teacher, Mrs. Helen Chicupke, and the quest for perfect grammar that also has me punctuate everything in my text, but I'm not -- I have not mastered that form of communication yet.

Curt Liesveld 13:18

Yeah. So did -- does -- do you think, like, communicating on social media, does that, will that ever take the place of face-to-face communication for you?

Heather Wright 13:31

For me, with my communication, I mean, I'm on Facebook. I don't tweet, but I'm on Facebook. And I do a lot of emailing and texting and, you know, a lot of things that stay in touch with people. For me, it's important to be in communication with others. But, but for me, there's something that's even richer about the human conversation, the face-to-face or voice-to-voice conversation.

Heather Wright 13:56

I was flying home last night and got home rather late. And my husband woke up when I got into bed and said, "How was your travel home?" And I said, Actually, it was great, because I knew lots of people on the plane. I had lots of people to talk to. And, and it wasn't just for me to talk, but to engage in interesting dialogue. So, you know, there were several people that I knew. And even the man sitting next to me kind of got looped into our dialogue because one of the topics I was conversing with one passenger about, you know, he had that in common. And so he became a part of our conversation.

Heather Wright 14:30

And to me, that really long flight went a lot faster, and, and that gave me energy. And, you know, sometimes traveling can be a drudgery, but when that interaction -- so for me, a big part of my Communication is, is the interplay with other human beings and, and what that dialogue and what that conversation gives both to those other folks as well as to myself.

Curt Liesveld 14:53

You know, I talked earlier about how the, the Communication theme is a part of that Relationship Building Domain. And -- can you talk any about how Communication is a part of important relationships to you?

Heather Wright 15:08

Yeah. Because, you know, I went back and forth. Is it, for me, more Influencing? Or is it for me more Relationship Building? And I think it, honestly, some of the things that, that I claim about Communication, it really probably, for me, first and foremost belongs in that category of Relationship Building. I also have a lot of Influencing themes that accompany my Communication. So I can, I can see it in both perspectives. But the reason I think it really belongs in Relationship Building is because I think it fast-forwards my ability to connect with people. Because I speak "their language," you know, whether it's with a client, I quickly -- and this is also a little bit of my Individualization as a Signature Theme creeping in -- I pick up really quickly on their lingo, on the acronyms that they use, the language that they use within their corporate culture. And I start weaving it back in to, to my conversations with those people.

Heather Wright 16:06

The stories that I hear from their world are the stories that I then weave into subsequent presentations with others from that organization. So pretty quickly, you know, my Communication, they feel very comfortable. And they trust me, because I'm speaking their language. I tease my aunt. A lot of times, we, I think about how easy it is for me to understand what other people are saying, to really hear what they're saying. O other people are confused by someone's message, or they say, you know, "I don't get what you're saying." And, and I can interpret; I can tell you what they're saying.

Heather Wright 16:40

My aunt and I traveled to Europe together right after I graduated from college, and I was first working full time at Gallup. And we got off at the wrong train station in, near Budapest in Hungary. And of course, neither of us spoke the language. But, I mean, the signs were hard to read. The -- I asked for a phone book to try and get in touch with this person who was supposed to be meeting us at the train station. And my aunt's trying to convey the message and they're not understanding her. But when I communicated, they understood me. And it was, I think part of it was the choice of words. I don't use a lot of slang, or I didn't in that case. I wasn't using slang. And just even the the hand gesture -- obviously, I talk a lot with my hands. You know, I was a -- she's like, "Why do they understand you when you talk, but not me?" But I think, again, it was about relationally, I kind of knew what that person needed from me in terms of information and communication. And, and we clicked when sometimes others don't. So for me --

Curt Liesveld 17:40

Even though the language was different. Wow.

Heather Wright 17:42

Totally different language. But I think about, for me it fast-forwards, you know, choosing the right words, being able to say some things or ask some things can make people more comfortable with me, or more comfortable in the environment I'm creating, because of how I talk.

Heather Wright 18:00

I was even reading something that, that is a bit, you know, and maybe it's partly from, from those pairings. The Communication with my Harmony can sometimes be the practical or the calm. So, you know, my voice can kind of calm when things are getting stirred up, or it can be the calm in the storm of lots of chatter. And it can also be the practical, where I'm partnering with someone in the classroom who's starting to get pretty high-level for the audience we're with, and I can read that. And I can kind of restate what they've said in layman's terms.

Curt Liesveld 18:34

I like that!

Heather Wright 18:35

Things will click or the light bulb will come on for some.

Curt Liesveld 18:39

Yeah, so that's almost another one of these themes that kind of moderates Communication to some degree: Harmony. I like that. Yeah. How do you think -- I mean, sometimes people have Communication at the bottom of their profile. You're a coach; you've coached lots of people. What do you think the -- what's, what's some of your best advice for people who have less Communication?

Heather Wright 19:02

You know, I think there's a couple of different approaches I would take. And it depends on the goal of their communication. I think sometimes it's about taking time -- if it's at the bottom of your list, one of the things that I've recognized for a lot of those folks is that they tend to be more thoughtful, they have more Thinking themes towards the top of their list than I do, and that they just need more time to think about what they want to say or how they want to say it. And so it's about ensuring that you carve out that time to, to process and to prepare.

Heather Wright 19:33

I think, too, sometimes it's about running your message past someone. If Communication's down at the bottom, I'll oftentimes, especially with leaders, say, "Do you have someone who can read your email before you send it? Do you have someone that can look at your PowerPoint before you present it, just to give you an idea of what might spice it up a little, what might make it more interesting or what might, you know, tone down maybe a little bit of harsh language or some data that's going to kind of take people by surprise -- how can you kind of put the story behind the data?"

Heather Wright 20:08

And, and they kind of go, "Oh, I need to have a story to go. I thought I'd just, you know, throw the data up there on the screen. And it's like, "But, but what do you want people to take away from that data? You have to think through what's the story behind the data?" And then that helps them feel a little more comfortable with, "Oh, well, I can tell them what's going on here!" and not just assume that, that someone else will notice that or see that like, like that, that leader might.

Curt Liesveld 20:33

What's, what's your earliest recollection of, of this Communication theme? I mean, obviously, when you were younger, you didn't know about the Communication theme. But what's some early evidence of this that you observed?

Heather Wright 20:46

I meant, I meant to email my mom and ask her it, you know, how early did I talk? And how much did I talk? Because I've got a kiddo right now that my husband and I look at each other sometimes, and -- you never want to tell your child to "Shut up" -- but there are times we just look at each other and go, "Is he going to stop talking soon?" And I have a feeling I was one of those kids. My earliest really crystal clear recognition is 3rd grade, in Mrs. Haverly's class. I got in trouble a lot for talking. And part of it was I would get my work done and I'd want to talk about what we just did, this activity we just did or this homework we just did; I'd want to talk about it with other people. And that would get me in trouble because some people weren't quite ready to do that yet. They'd still had work to do.

Heather Wright 21:28

But also in grade school, beyond that, that little basement side of my Communication that's in trouble for talking too much, I also won an award. I have a savings bond that I still haven't cashed in that, that I won for writing an essay called "What Freedom Means to Me." And it was a 500-word essay. And I think the Optimist Club or somebody put on this competition to have elementary school children talk about what freedom means to them. And I won that contest with my written communication. And so those are two of my very earliest kind of evidence of, you know. And probably my poor siblings didn't talk much because I kind of did the talking for them early on in life. So --

Curt Liesveld 22:14

You were translating early!

Heather Wright 22:18

So that's probably my earliest recognition or recollection.

Curt Liesveld 22:21

Now, I know that you have a -- you had some, some background in media and stuff. You were in TV. I mean, was, was that part of this as well?

Heather Wright 22:32

It really was. It, you know, from that very early days, I I always loved talking, and I loved -- I loved watching media. I would get up early so I could fix my breakfast, and my mom would let me sit in front of The Today Show. And watch -- this'll date me, but it was Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel were the hosts in the day. And so I would watch them on The Today Show. And that's what I wanted to do.

Heather Wright 22:58

And so I kind of began to form my, my career very early on. I made choices in, you know, to do things like write the essay in grade school. But even in high school to, to, I was a swimmer through 8th grade, and, and gave up swim team in 9th grade because I wanted to be on the Speech and Debate Team, and the seasons conflicted. And I had the swim coach kind of after me, saying, "I really need, you know, if I had you, I'd have enough for a second relay. And I really need you on the swim team." He was trying to negotiate, I could do debate one, you know, one weekend and swim the next weekend. And I said, "No, you know, I know how to swim; I can swim for the rest of my life. But I need to take speech and debate because" -- and this is probably my Focus in my Top 5 coming through -- "because what I want to be when I grow up has more to do with speech and debate than it does swim team."

Heather Wright 23:47

And so I got involved in speech and debate. And the interesting thing about that -- and I think, you know, I was really reflecting on this week, in preparation for today. I was good at both debate and speech in 9th grade. But from 10th grade on, I only focused on speech. And because debate I did well, I got really high marks from the judges on my presentation, the language that I used. But internally, inside of me, the adversarial kind of part of the debate, oh, my Harmony did not enjoy that.

Heather Wright 24:24

So I got much greater satisfaction and, and won even more trophies and really did well at the speech part, especially extemporaneous and impromptu speaking, where they'd literally hand, you know, have you draw a topic out of a hat. And then you had 5 minutes in the hallway to prepare and you had to come in and give a 3-minute speech on the topic. I loved that and I flourished, and I really, really did well there. And so to me, that was a great preparation for this broadcasting career I was going to have, you know, that, that I could take a topic. I could talk about it. I could present about it. You know, that I could be that newscaster that, no matter what story came up, I could kind of jump in, you know, be the chameleon that could jump into that mode and tell that story that day.

Heather Wright 25:08

So that's -- I was a broadcasting major in undergraduate, worked for the local CBS affiliate for a couple of years in college. And as I was graduating, kind of had an epiphany about, you know, my good day at work was going to be that somebody else had had a really bad day or a tragedy had occurred, for it to be a really juicy news day. And that didn't appeal to me as much. So found my way through some other things at Gallup to, to find a way to ask questions and tell people's stories, just in a different way here at Gallup.

Curt Liesveld 25:41

You know, you talked a little bit about younger, that your Communication got you in trouble sometimes because you talked to too quickly when other people were -- How about, you know, older now? How does the, how has Commun -- how do you have to manage your Communication sometimes? How does it get you in trouble sometimes?

Heather Wright 26:00

That's a great question, because I still do have to consciously think, "It it time for me to stop talking and let someone else do the talking?" Because I can give lots of examples and use lots of analogies. So I think I practice at getting a little more refined about when I interject my stories or my examples. When I facilitate like, for, for church, I facilitate a small group. And I could, you know, every question that we're responding to about the -- I've got a story or an example or an analogy that I could use. But I have to really sit back and consciously say, "Don't talk, Heather, until we've heard from everyone else in this Bible study group." So I have to manage it pretty consciously. And, and I probably, you know, can wear some people out, especially some family members, because I can, I can talk, talk, talk.

Curt Liesveld 26:58

Well, you, I mean, you do it very well, Heather. I mean, you're, you're really -- I've got to work with you, and you really have a way with making things clear for people. And I think that's, I mean, I really love your story about, you know, the ability to communicate, even when you didn't know the language. There's something about people with Communication.

Curt Liesveld 27:16

I remember meeting a young woman who was hearing impaired and blind. And she, she took the Clifton StrengthsFinder, she had Communication in one of her themes. Now, I don't know sign language, but it was almost like I understood her. She had this ability to communicate using sign language in a way that really separated her from other people. So I think there is this intuitive desire and value for being understood. So I'm going to make it crystal clear, whatever I have to do, whether it's using gestures or facial expressions or whatever. So I just think that's, that's really true.

Heather Wright 27:53

I love that example. Because, you know, that piece that you mentioned about wanting to be understood. I think that's a huge piece of it for a lot of people.

Curt Liesveld 28:01

Jim, how about any -- Do we have any questions from the the chat room?

Jim Collison 28:06

Yes! Finally, I get to talk!

Heather Wright 28:09

Cause he has --

Curt Liesveld 28:10

Jim also has Communication, if you haven't noticed.

Jim Collison 28:13

Oh, that's great. Maureen asked this question. She said, Jim, does Heather's ability to hear what isn't said, is it by watching them with Empathy or some other strength like Individualization? How, how does she hear what they aren't saying?

Curt Liesveld 28:30

Good question.

Heather Wright 28:31

That's a great question. And honestly, it's -- I don't have Empathy very high. It's -- Individualization is in my Top 5. And honestly, I think of my Communication and Individualization are very intertwined. They are -- that Individualization helps me really adjust to my audience. And so I think that is a big part of what I hear, and using it, and what I don't hear, and seeking that out from people.

Curt Liesveld 29:01

I would think intuit -- Individualization is a bit more intuitive, so it's it, whereas Communication is more expressive. So I would guess that, that Individualization would certainly help you do that.

Heather Wright 29:13

It really does.

Jim Collison 29:15

John Spence asks this question, he says, Does Heather have Input too? I recall that people with Input also focus on finding the right words.

Heather Wright 29:23

Yeah, my Input is not in my Top 10. It doesn't come in for me till about 16. So it's not my Input. But, you know, for me, I think a lot of it is, oftentimes my Maximizer kicks in; it wants to polish the message and make it the best possible message. So it's a little bit of maybe not, not the Input, but that experiential of, "OK, that worked last time. Let's use it again," or "That didn't work so well. That didn't really turn the light bulb on for people. So I'll, I'll set that idea aside or that story aside." But I think it's probably a little more my Maximizer than it would be Input.

Jim Collison 30:06

OK, and I find, you know, as we've been talking about this, I find my Communication plays out in the way I think, not necessarily -- I mean, I do a lot of talking to people, but my best thinking happens in the context of a conversation. So it really helpful to get together with people. And, and I have to, I'm like, "I'm gonna speak; somebody take notes," because it's -- something good may come out of this. It may not. But, you know, that's the kind of feeling I have sometimes. I'll say something. I'm like, "Wow, that was -- OK. That -- we can do something with that." And like, I had to talk about it, though I'm not good at sitting down, thinking quietly. I guess this is the way it comes out.

Heather Wright 30:40

I just, frankly, don't enjoy it as much is -- for me, Jim. That's, that's, I'm right there with you. And Curt said it this way before, that, that has really resonated with me. And I've used it to be more intentional about my Communication. Because, Curt, I think the way you said it was, "Some people think to talk; other people talk to think," and I'm definitely a "talk to think" person.

Heather Wright 31:03

So when people say, "I want your ideas about X, Y and Z," or "I want your ideas about what we should do with a client," I've really learned to say, rather than me promising to jot them an email or, you know, create an agenda, I'd like to just get on a call and talk it through with them. And then, like you said, Jim, they can take the notes; they can craft the agenda; but I can talk it out. And even sometimes people say, "Ooh, can you say that again? I really like what you just said there!" And I think, "Oh, dear, I can't remember what I" -- I mean, it just kind of fell out of my mouth. What did I say? You know? So, so that's, that's one of the things.

Heather Wright 31:42

So I have also, you know, Curt, when you talk about, How does it get me into trouble? I have learned that I have to be a little bit more conscious as I'm talking, as I'm saying things to people. If, if it's something I think they're going to want me to repeat, or that's going to be meaningful to them, I try to say it more slowly so they can capture it or write it down, or to really listen as I speak so that I can replicate it.

Curt Liesveld 32:09

Yeah, I think that's true. I think sometimes people -- I say it this way, sometimes. People with Communication: Their brain might work better when their mouth and ears, it's in the midst of conversation or presentation. So you do need to capture that intelligence. So, so you should tell people that -- I've even done that a few times where I've said something. I don't have Communication high, it's actually quite low for me. But I think that that happens. So --

Jim Collison 32:34

Yeah, I've found this webcasting medium to be a very helpful for me, and I do, I do several podcasts, webcasts where we just take questions from, you know, listeners or call in. And I'll go back and listen to that a week or two later and, and think "Oh, wow, that was that was a pretty good segment in there," that, you know, and not remember doing it. So it has been good to capture those kinds of things in that format. This, this medium has allowed me to kind of capture that stuff. So --

Heather Wright 33:04

And Jim, do you have Maximizer as well? Yeah, No. 3. And that's, you know, my Maximizer's in my Top 5 as well. And for me, it -- well, it's just even -- Scott was teasing me this morning as, as we were getting ready to go to work. He said, "Jim Collison has some good feedback for you. When you interviewed someone on Called to Coach, you know, you had this same thing you kept saying after every answer." And I was like, "Well, OK, that's really good feedback." Because when we take time to listen to ourselves -- and, and that was some of where I really grew most in my Communication was, I had someone here at Gallup who used to sit in and watch us lead.

Heather Wright 33:42

So as I was leading a program, she would sit in the room and take notes. And then after the program was over, we'd schedule a time to sit down, and she'd say, "When you told this story, that's when I saw the light bulbs come on for people. And this person asked this question and the way you did that." And so that feedback that she gave me about my Communication helped me get even more focused and intentional about how I use that Communication and the things I do with that Communication. And so that's, that's been, you know, a powerful example of, even though you may have the talent, to practice it, to hone it can can make it even more impactful.

Curt Liesveld 34:23


Jim Collison 34:25

Ryan asks this question, He says, How does Empathy -- and Curt, this will be for you -- How does Empathy affect Communication? He said he joined the call a bit late, and didn't know if you'd covered that already.

Curt Liesveld 34:33

No, we haven't covered it. But I would, I would think it would be, I would guess it might be similar to Heather's Individualization to Communication. It's, it's really someone who is aware of the emotional implication of the, of their words. And so I think, to some degree, it might cause, it might kind of modify Communication. I don't know -- it would affect how people say something to someone. Someone with Empathy would be a sensitive communicator. They would, they would say things mindful of how this might makes someone feel; doesn't mean that they wouldn't say it necessarily. But they would be aware of the emotional implications of their words.

Curt Liesveld 35:12

And so I think that could certainly enhance and complement that Communication theme very well. I mean, you hear about physicians that don't have a very good bedside manner. I think they have high Communica -- they might, they might not have either Communication or Empathy, but they have a message to give. But they're, they really don't have much awareness of the implications of what they say to people. Whereas a physician that has a great bedside manner, they say it in a more sensitive way. The message is not only received, but it doesn't kind of blow people out of the water.

Jim Collison 35:48

Well, and that's the real power in this, right? It's when you take Communication raw, right, it almost lives, it almost never lives in somebody raw, right? It's always influenced by those strengths that are around it. And so it tweaks itself based on that -- when we talked about, you know, Empathy, or we talked about Individualization or, in my case, Arranger tweaks my Communication big time because I'm always talk -- people, that people have an idea and I'm like, "Let's, let's gather people and figure this out on the fly; let's do it, you know, right now," type deal. And, and, "Let's get this done. And so I activate, right, Activator influences that as well.

Curt Liesveld 36:22

Yeah, you really kind of initiate and orchestrate conversations about stuff. I mean, that's -- I think there's a real collaborative part when you've got Arranger with that.

Jim Collison 36:32

Yeah, no, for sure. Leslie asks this question and I think it's a great one. A mature, a mature communicator was mentioned earlier. Can you talk a bit about the difference between mature and immature, and how to help someone move towards that, that more mature Communication? Curt, maybe we start with you?

Curt Liesveld 36:47

Yeah, well I think raw is a little bit what Heather talked about is you, in, when you're in grade school, you'd talk too much and you get called down for, you know, your teacher says, "Don't talk so much.' I mean, I think it's, it's really when I, when people get in trouble for not being quiet. There, there certainly is a time to speak. But there's a time to be quiet. And so kind of maybe not knowing, being quite as aware of when it's a time to talk and when it's not time to talk.

Curt Liesveld 37:13

I think mature Communication is really, I think, words that build understanding, words that build relationships, and I think even words that build inspiration. I think that's, that's Communication's at its -- it's building something. And obviously, I think a raw talent could also be about when, when we do use words in negative ways. I mean, that, that would be a not a productive use of Communication: when it when it's a talent but not a strength; when people are bad-mouthing other people or, you know, saying destructive things, mean things, hurtful things, not helpful things. So -- you might have a better answer to that, Heather.

Heather Wright 37:56

No, Curt, I'm right in alignment with you. I think it's almost, you know, the, the raw is more the "blurt," where the mature looks more like insight. It could be the very same message, but when it's raw, it comes out and it feels more like something's been blurted at someone. And that's, I think, Curt, where you're pointing out, it can be hurtful, it can be -- I think the same person with mature Communication can relay that same message in a way that feels insightful and helpful to the recipient, as opposed to that "hurt blurt."

Curt Liesveld 38:28

Yeah, no, I think that's -- yeah, I think that's how I'd answer that.

Jim Collison 38:32

OK. Yeah, And I got that same comment when I was in school. "Oh, Jim's such a great student. He just talks too much." That was the --

Curt Liesveld 38:40

And now he has podcasts all the time!

Heather Wright 38:42


Jim Collison 38:43

I can talk all I want!

Heather Wright 38:44

Well, and I don't know, Jim, if you ever experienced this. I was trying to decide if this was my Communication or not. But, you know, when we had to take turns reading out loud, I love reading out loud. You know, I love taking my turn at reading out loud. Boy would I get frustrated when people would stumble over words or mispronounce things like, we had that word last -- like how come you don't know how to say it? How come you don't know how to use it.

Heather Wright 39:09

And so, it just -- even kind of a as a person with Communication, feeling a protectiveness about language. So Curt, you know, a little bit like we've been talking about -- language can be used in a lot of ways. And, and when people misuse words, whether it's to damage relationships, that's a misuse of words, or just even those everyday little things, like you've seen the things floating on Facebook where people misuse words, you know, they talk about overexaggeration. There's no such thing! It's exaggeration, period. You know, things like that. So, you know --

Curt Liesveld 39:45

A word purist.

Heather Wright 39:47

Exactly. So, protective of the language in the sense of the language and what we do with that language.

Curt Liesveld 39:55

You know, one of the things that -- I think speaking is one of the things that differentiates people, especially the amount of speaking. I mean, I often will hear people complain about someone else. And they will either have one of two complaints: either this person talks too much; they're too talkative. Or on the other hand is they're too quiet. They don't talk enough. And very seldom do I hear anybody say, "You know what this person talked just the perfect amount."

Curt Liesveld 40:24

So I think it may be one of the areas of diversity and, and some people are more quiet; they need time to think before they talk. Other people, they need to talk. And just like we, we give people, we try to give people what they need. One of the ways that I think we can really help our friends with Communication is giving them opportunities to talk, being a sounding board for them, you know, listening to their presentation or their conversation and giving some feedback. What worked about that? So I don't know if we'll ever find anybody who speaks the perfect amount!

Heather Wright 41:03

I think that's a -- helps me think about for my, for my talker at home, I need to make sure we're recruiting and resourcing a few more audiences for him.

Curt Liesveld 41:13

Absolutely. Yeah. They, they need, they need people to talk to and to talk with. I don't think it's just "to"; it's "with." Talking with the conversation.

Jim Collison 41:23

Yeah, great insight. Heather, this one's for you. Is it personally frustrating when someone doesn't understand what you're saying?

Heather Wright 41:30

Oh, well, I feel like it's my failure if someone doesn't understand. I have a perfect example: I was working with a client in preparation for a presentation I was going to be doing on behalf of his organization. And I was walking him through the, the slide deck at a very high level. And we got to this one activity that I was going to have the classroom do. And he just, he wasn't getting it. He kept saying, "I still find this very confusing." And I was very frustrated, not with him, but with my -- it was like, "Why am I not able to paint a picture of this in a way that he can grasp? It's not that complex. You know, what am I missing in my words or in my -- so I kept trying kind of different angles to come at how I helped him understand.

Heather Wright 42:17

But it was, I -- it was frustrating from the sense of something I was trying to convey wasn't coming through, and I was -- it was my failure. Now, maybe he just wasn't, you know, it might have been him. But I was feeling the ownership for it that day.

Jim Collison 42:36

Yeah, and I'd agree with you a lot for me, too. I take the ownership when I've communicated, and it, and they're still not getting it. I do get frustrated because I'm like, "OK, it's not that hard." You know, but, but I do take the ownership for that and feel very responsible to go back. "OK, let me clarify this. Let me, and this goes to -- so Guest 406 asks a question to you, Heather, again: Do you find that often you fall into a moderator role, whether it be in business or in personal life because you're a natural communicator?

Heather Wright 43:03

Yeah, yeah. I mean, and, and I like playing that role, too. But even by default, there will be times where, you know, like with, with the, the Bible study group, I'll, I'll say, you know, I'm not going to lead tonight; someone else is going to lead. But pretty soon, it's like, people are looking to me. Like, OK, Heather, you need to interject here, you know, you need to say something, because this person's not drawing it out of people like you would. And so I do find myself, even for other people, will be in a conversation with a group of friends, and maybe something will start to get -- someone's trying -- and I find myself kind of stepping in and saying, "Well, what I heard her say, or what she's trying to explain is this" or, you know, just adding my two cents to help everybody have a better understanding and appreciation. Bringing that clarity, I think.

Jim Collison 43:58

You bet. Curt, last question. And Guest 667 asks, Command and Intellection would show up how in Communication? I think Command's easy.

Curt Liesveld 44:08

I think Command is someone who might be able to have difficult conversations with people quite easily. They could -- I often say that people with Command will often say what other people are only willing to think. And so I think that's especially true if you have, have Communication, kind of. I often hear people who have trouble with having difficult conversations, I think a person with Command could do that.

Curt Liesveld 44:30

Intellection, and again, I think that's a pretty rare combination if you'd find somebody that has both Command and Intellection high, but, but I have seen it. And I think it means these are people that need some time to be alone to think things through, but they also need some time to talk things through with other people. They have this kind of rhythm; it's a little more balanced, probably, between -- as opposed to someone that has one but not the other.

Jim Collison 44:54

That might be a really good, when you think about Communication, that might be a really good theme to pair with it, because it's a careful speaker, probably.

Curt Liesveld 45:01

Yeah, thorough, thoughtful. Absolutely. Yeah.

Jim Collison 45:04

Yeah. Add Deliberative to that, and, and really they've thought all the way through it kind of before they say it.

Curt Liesveld 45:11

But I think the value is -- and maybe just for a way to kind of, kind of summarize this -- I, I don't have Communication high, but I really appreciate people who have Communication. I think they bring life to, to situations. They -- there's something about conversation that enlivens. And what I often suggest to people, when, when people have trouble seeing a particular theme as a theme: What would happen if we would drain this theme from humanity? And I can imagine draining this theme from humanity because I think it would be a very quiet world, and there would be less understanding, there would be less connections that are built on through, through conversation.

Curt Liesveld 45:55

So I just think this is a -- obviously I love all 34 themes, but today, Communication is a great theme. And if there's somebody out there who has it, I hope that you'll get a chance to hone it like Heather has honed her Communication talent. She has a -- she's had a profound effect on the people that she teaches and coaches. And a lot of her impact comes through the words that she speaks. And so I think there's great power and potential in that theme for, for people who have it.

Curt Liesveld 46:26

Heather, thanks so much for being on today. It's always good to have you on. If you've -- first time you've been watching Theme Thursday, we do get Heather on Called to Coach from time to time as well. She'll lead that, I think, in the next, next couple ones coming up here, right. We've slated you and that's -- I appreciate you for, for Jeremy on that as well.

Jim Collison 46:43

And we'll remind folks, if you didn't get your question in, and some of you -- I couldn't get to all of them in that. Let's take it to the Facebook page. So I just dropped the link to our Facebook group out there. If you haven't joined that yet, head out to -- the easiest way to do that; it's our coaching website. It's all everything's out there: But to drop that question in there, and bunches of people will, will get to it so it's a good way to do it. We'll remind you to take full advantage of everything available at the Gallup Strengths Center, just And remember we have a new counter out there; we just crossed over 11 million who have taken the Clifton StrengthsFinder. Send us your questions or comments after the fact. If you, if you want to send those in, we'll do that as well. You can send those to If you have questions about any of our courses that are available for strengths, we've got a bunch of those out there at the Strengths Center site, you can send that in: And don't forget, you can catch the recorded audio and video of this program as well as all the past ones, now through our new RSS feed. So RSS is just a way of, of -- it's Real Simple Syndication is what that stands for. It's just a way of getting on your on your Android, or iPhone device or iPad, or whatever you've got now, you can get it automatically delivered to you. If you have questions about that, again, send me an email at that coaching email address on how to get that. But that is your way to automatically get these each week. Of course, you could still continue to go out to our Facebook -- or our YouTube page and get those as well. We have some brand new meetup options going on as well. So if you want to head out to and click on the Meetup tab, we have 3 or 4 new cities where meetups are going on, including, you know, we think about Austin and Dallas and Oklahoma City and new ones in L.A. and in Nashville, as well as some that have been going on in Indianapolis. And, you know, as soon as you start naming them off, you realize you're gonna forget some. So I probably forgot yours. Head out to the meetup page: Click the Meetup tab; lots of meetups. And if you want to start a meetup in your area, get one going,, just start a group there, get some things going. Let us know you're doing it, so we can kind of help you with that as well and we'd love to have you do that. So for Curt and Heather, we'll say thanks for coming out today. If you've missed past Theme Thursdays, just head back out to They're all there. And thanks again for joining us. Goodbye, everyone.

Heather Wright's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Communication, Individualization, Maximizer, Harmony and Focus.

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

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