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Positivity: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Positivity: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 5, Positivity
  • The CliftonStrengths themes at the top of your profile are the most powerful and give you the greatest chance for success. Join us as we discuss Positivity.

Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Positivity talent theme -- helping you unlock the power of truly understanding yourself through how you get things done, influence others, connect with people and think critically -- on this Theme Thursday Season 5 webcast.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 5, recorded on October 17, 2019. Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time, and today's theme is Positivity. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. The link -- if you're on the live page, the link to it's right above the video window here. If you're listening after the fact and you got questions for us, and we do love to hear from you, send us an email: Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a workplace consultant here at Gallup. Maika, always great to see you. And welcome back to Theme Thursday.

Maika Leibbrandt 0:46

Thanks, Jim. Gosh, it's great to be here. Get to talk today about Positivity. As you know, those CliftonStrengths at the top of your profile really are where your greatest power is going to be found. They describe not just a way to name your talent, but really describe how you are talented, your unique makeup. The idea around CliftonStrengths is not just to name all 34 or know where they fall or even be able to recall which number it is for you. The idea is to invest in those dominant talents, those that show up for you early, often and frequently. We tend to call those your Signature Themes -- they're typically 1 through 5, but sometimes we think about maybe even 1 through 10 or 1 through 12. If Positivity is up there for you, you today's podcast is for you. But maybe you also care about or know somebody who has Positivity. In that case, you're also going to get a lot out of today.

Jim Collison 1:34

Everybody is welcome. And so what does it mean to have Positivity as my top talent theme?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:39

It means that you have contagious enthusiasm. You're upbeat, you can get other people excited about what they're going to do. You set the emotional tone for people around you.

Jim Collison 1:50

Pretty great for the two of us -- (No.) 2 for you, (No.) 6 for me. It bleeds into this program, right? We're overtly positive in what we do. How else might people with this dominant theme notice it in their life?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:00

So if you've got high Positivity, you might notice that rapport really matters. That you when you're thinking about interacting with other people, you don't just think about what is said or what is done, but how it's said and how people react. You probably notice when other people are warm, and when other people reciprocate those feelings of affection and joy. You appreciate those kinds of connections. People might say that you light up a room, even if that isn't the words that they use. When people have high Positivity, you can feel their presence. Their emotion affects other people. You might also notice that when you're down, other people notice and sometimes there is almost this higher expectation for people with high Positivity, to not have as many bad days because when they do, you feel it. Your first reaction for somebody with high Positivity is generally a positive reaction. You tend to lead from -- maybe a little more benefit of the doubt than other people. You give people and situations that that glass-half-full treatment. You can probably see humor and joy in situations when others can't or won't. Or you can see humor and opportunities for joy more quickly than other people around you. You might have a personal strategy or a purpose in sharing your energy. You probably also think about, How am I going to affect the emotion of the people around me? That might mean that you've got a couple jokes up your sleeve or you've got great gifts or maybe the gifts -- as in not talent; you have actual gifts that you give people. Maybe it's that you're just really great at icebreakers. And you've got those sorts of tools up your sleeve because you value the ability to use those tools to positively affect the emotions of others.

Jim Collison 3:40

I get a little defensive of Positivity sometimes because it gets kind of mislabeled as that party, party theme. Woo and Positivity kind of go together a lot. We see that combination together. And we want to really emphasize -- with the All 34 report, we're really talking about success factors. These are talents that led to success. Not just identifying so we can so so we like it. And so, when we think about the strategies for purpose for sharing your energy, GIFs, jokes, icebreakers. Oftentimes we think about how do we use those in ways to make teams or individuals successful, right, when we're doing it? And so just kind of keep that in mind. In the 34 report, we also have these areas of blind spots. So before we talk about some of the great things about it, it has some potential to hold us back from excellence. So Maika, what, in some of those areas, based on our 34 report, what are those areas that may hold us back?

Maika Leibbrandt 4:31

Well, I love that that word that you really brought to our attention, Jim around success. The entire idea around CliftonStrengths isn't just so that you can have fun or to describe like what's great about you, it's how have people with these natural inclinations succeeded? And then how can we almost reverse-engineer that to be able to say, This is what you have; use it to succeed? Part of that also means that we need to acknowledge ways that what we have could get in our way. And with 34 different themes, we are all different; you're always going to run into somebody whose motivations come from a different place than you. Part of that is in part of acknowledging your blind spots is acknowledging how they might come across to other people who aren't wired the same way. So a very popular section of the CliftonStrengths 34 report is around blind spots. Don't listen to these as like a scientific guarantee that here's how you're going to fail because you have these themes. Instead, listen to them with that Learner's mindset of, What do I need to know about myself so I can really, really be excellent?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:29

I've got two of them for you specific to Positivity. One is acknowledging that when you don't have Positivity, you might have to put on positive emotion. It might take more purpose than if you naturally feel that way. So people who have to do that on purpose or think about like putting on some Positivity might not understand just how genuine your joy is, especially during challenging times. It could come across as naive, insincere or even apathetic. So, understand that Positivity does not equal being happy all the time. You can be serious and engaged and present with challenge and suffering, and still lead with Positivity. It is the ability, Positivity, what it really is, it's the ability to and the desire to affect the emotions of people around you and bring them up in more ways than just sharing joy. Think about building your Positivity toolkit with variety. How many different ways can you build someone up? How -- pay attention to the diverse needs of the people around you as well and the diverse emotional needs of the people around you. Challenge yourself to personalize how you connect with others. Someone might need to hear out loud, "I genuinely do believe what I'm saying right now is good." They might need that that ability to say, "I'm not just being silly." Another potential blind spot around Positivity might be because you speak that language of emotion, you might be more sensitive to negative feelings than other people. You might even see them coming before other people see that potential negativity coming. Don't feel responsible for erasing negativity for other people. Sometimes discomfort is necessary. And sometimes discomfort is not as dangerous to others as it might feel like it is. So be careful not to blanket other people with a protection away from negative emotions. It's not your job. Also think about practicing asking permission, especially during hard times. You might ask permission by saying, Hey, is this something you want to talk about? Is it worth exploring what could be good about this? Know when you can be the fix and when others just need to vent and need to sit in something a while.

Jim Collison 7:47

That's some some great advice. I see that as you're talking. I kind of live that! As we think about the role that Positivity plays in teams. Like all the themes can be incredibly powerful. Let's talk a little bit about that.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:59

Yeah, So what I love and I think what what a lot of people love about this report is its ability to act like a an expandable folder; you can pull out different pieces about your own understanding at different times that you need it. Starting on page 21 is where you're going to find that -- that team element of How does this theme play out across the four domains of leadership? Positivity lives in the Relationship Building domain, and that's a domain that describes themes that are all about what happens between people. Understanding Positivity in that light helps you understand what role does it play among a team of people? Positivity can be a bridge-builder between the people on your team. Joy multiplies when it is shared. So typically, Positivity doesn't discriminate at first glance, and everyone feels more energy when they're together. So Positivity can help people make connections with each other who otherwise might not notice or engage with each other. Think about that Positivity person as the human version of a shared experience. They are going to help create shared laughter, shared perspective or even just shared comfort among the group that's going to increase your collaboration -- if you do it on purpose and give it the space that it needs, Positivity can have a forward lean to it, rallying a group toward something, getting people excited about something. They can be an encourager; they tend to place meaningful value on celebration. And they can lean into this on purpose. So if you've got someone with high Positivity on your team, ask them to recognize others or even just to make suggestions for what the team can be proud of and how that pride can be shared and multiplied.

Maika Leibbrandt 9:42

Let's compare this to other Relationship Building themes just to really define and understand maybe how my Positivity shows up differently from other Relationship Building themes within that domain. One key difference for me that I like to -- that I think helps people understand Positivity better is to contrast it with Empathy. Empathy says, I feel what you're feeling. It's that emotional thermometer. Positivity says, you feel more energy when I'm around. It's that emotional thermostat. Looking at Harmony and Positivity, Harmony takes that perspective of our team's going to work better in areas of agreement than in areas of discord. And with Harmony, I can point out where we're on the same page. Positivity might take the perspective of knowing that the team works better when they're focusing on the good rather than dwelling on the negative. And I can bring a more joyous or a more hopeful slant to what we're doing, so that the emotions are better aligned to the things that we need to get done. Again, those two might sound very similar and they might even look very similar when you're looking at people on your team who have them, but they come from a slightly different angle. Looking at Developer and Positivity, Developer is drawn toward helping others improve and experience moments of discovery. Positivity is drawn toward elevating the emotions of others, helping others experience moments of delight.

Maika Leibbrandt 11:04

In partnership, Positivity can make you feel lighter. I think about somebody I follow on social media who likes to just keep reminding me that, hey, you know what, it's not that serious or it's not that deep. Create -- they can create specific plans for hope. They can help you look toward future positive things. They can celebrate, they can recognize they can also nudge toward celebration that needs to happen for other people. I am careful that I don't want Positivity just to be sounded like the most fun friend you have. Or that it is a lightness in the terms of a lack of seriousness because Positivity is grounded; it's just grounded in the belief that we need to reach higher, or that we need to stay grounded and still feel lightness.

Jim Collison 11:51

Yeah, I think also at times it can find the best of two out of two bad things. And so you know, it doesn't always bring the good news. It's not always -- it's not being unrealistic. It's not being a falsehoods to make people feel good. It can be just the best of two bad situations that have to be, Hey, let's kind of focus on what pulls us through. Oftentimes, as humans, we need that ability to be able to be pulled through a situation when we're paralyzed, when we're not -- maybe both literally or figuratively, when we're stuck, right, that Positivity can pull us through; it's an action. And so sometimes I don't want to get too stuck on the emotion and sometimes get stuck on the talent of action in moving people forward.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:33

I think -- and this is probably because I have Positivity myself, and it's wrapped up in my beliefs, and I also have Strategic, but I do think it's worth exploring a little play on words here. If you think about positive and negative in terms of like, space or art -- so positive is is a shape that is there and negative is a hole or a shape that is missing. Positivity can help you notice what is there. So when you mentioned seeing the best of two bad things, Positivity can have a practical slant to it where it says, Hey, these two projects, for example, might have both failed. But here was something that worked as a part of both of those projects. And because I've got that lens on where I'm looking for the positive, I'm not getting lost in the fact that the whole experience was a failure. I -- it's not all just a black hole; I can see the positives in it. I can also see the negatives, but I'm going to choose to focus and focus the rest of the team on what did work about that. So there can be -- I mean, if you think about, again, if if you haven't read Strengths Based Leadership, I think it makes a brilliant point that you made earlier, Jim, around this is how people succeed. Think -- remind yourself that this isn't just a great party trick. It is a study in what makes leaders effective; in what makes human beings effective and what helps people succeed. And so Positivity can have that practical, almost process mind, to it where it is it is a lens that helps you see what's there.

Jim Collison 13:56

Yeah, any clues on communicating with Positivity?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:00

Trust that they are as content as they seem. What would happen if you didn't second-guess their positive nature? Because I think a lot of time spent doubting that it's naive just wastes time. Know that there is a difference between being happy and being positive. So they struggle just like anyone else. It's just that their struggle will likely have a more hopeful nature to it. Don't discount this or try to talk them out of it. If they're down, let them be down. Know that it's not permanent. Don't be scared by it. Also, I think it's important when you're communicating with people with high Positivity to create a space for rapport. Share something that you want to celebrate or appreciate. Ask them what they're excited about or grateful for. You're going to win them over instantly by doing that. I would also say -- this is really funny, if you'd heard our pre show, Jim. I didn't plan this, but just just because they carry it well, doesn't mean it isn't heavy.

Jim Collison 14:57

Maika is referring to my weight.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:01

Sorry, I actually am, it's really funny.

Jim Collison 15:03

No, it's funny.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:04

But this is important: Do not confuse their emotional energy with emotional ignorance.

Jim Collison 15:09

Yeah, I think just we have this word, you know, we used to say this -- Pollyannaish, right? And a lot of people don't know what that means. And I think a good replacement word for Positivity in a lot of ways is hope. Like I really do think there's an element of this idea of bringing hope to it that makes it so much more concrete.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:28

If I was going to rename it, I would rename it "Activated Hope." Because it's not just this like wishful state that tomorrow is going to be better. It's, I'm a part of creating that hope in other people.

Jim Collison 15:39

Yeah, or ignorant hope -- like ignorant, like, I don't know how this is going to happen. Oftentimes, people with high Positivity are going to lean on those other themes to then activate or move forward or know or sense how they can move a team or themselves forward in Positivity. Speaking of that, that sounds like inspiration. How do we inspire or motivate somebody with Positivity?

Maika Leibbrandt 16:00

Projects with the power to decide how things are being said are really important for people with Positivity. They need some freedom to inject humor, drama or personality into their communication. I will say, challenge them to throw a party, even if it's not a literal party. How can you elevate the experience other people are having through shared celebration?

Jim Collison 16:19

And what can people with Positivity do to practice this talent every day?

Maika Leibbrandt 16:23

Think about upping your celebration game. Know that while the Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket is true for everyone -- you can Google that or listen to a previous podcast if you don't know what I'm talking about -- it might be even more concentrated for people with Positivity. That means the residual energy that you receive by sharing positive energy with others is very strong. The splashback matters to you. So your celebration splashback is life giving for you! Make it a point to share positive recognition more frequently, and perhaps in more diverse or more creative ways. Spend time listening to and learning from consistent Positivity. That means tune in to speakers, writers, influencers who offer a track of meaningful positive interactions. If you're shopping around and trying to figure out "How do I do that?" here's a couple things you could look for. You could look for people who celebrate people. You could look for avoiding sarcasm, or or any sort of discriminating emotion. You could look for that feeling like, don't look for things where you need to be an insider in order to get the joke. Look for other people who have that kind of inclusivity celebration about them. Write down positive messages that inspire you; keep them in front of you; and be consistent. Think about getting better at your own Positivity by being less selective about who you share your energy with. Share it with the people you love and share it consistently with people who are harder to love. That's going to make you better at Positivity. It's going to flex your own emotional muscle to make you stronger. It's also going to build that transparency of your talent.

Jim Collison 18:01

We've been spending some time this season in this idea of talent-mindfulness. Been really, really helpful in that Maika. Of course, doesn't surprise me, we've been speaking about Positivity high for us -- we've gone a little long. But as we think about this talent-mindfulness exercise, can you kind of quickly walk us through? So by the way, you can take these at your own pace, you can stop, right, you can be listening to him and stop us as we go or whatever helps you with this. But Maika, lead us through this exercise today.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:25

Yeah we have gone a little long. So this will be a shortened exercise here. CliftonStrengths is a tool. It's something that's meant to help you. Improvement is a journey and talent-mindfulness helps you practice that improvement. So we'll take about 3 minutes and then we'll wrap up here but this is just to focus on you, not on Positivity, not to sort to a specific theme at all. Let me invite you just for 3 minutes to close your eyes or turn your gaze downward so you're minimizing distraction. In the past week, when was the time you were having fun? What were you doing? Who were you with? What was happening, or not happening? In your mind's eye, see yourself in one moment that you were having fun. ... As you're seeing yourself having fun, as an onlooker, what do you notice about yourself? If you were to describe what you notice, what 1 to 3 words would you use?

Maika Leibbrandt 19:33

You know, sometimes we dismiss fun as being a bonus, a perk, an extra. But fun is a clue to notice the presence of joy. And we are beings who are made for joy. When we experience joy, we're more open to offering what's inside of us. And in many cases, that means we're better able to share our talent. Moments of joy happen when we release that heaviness that we're wearing and we let that lightness out. Have you ever been in a busy place and heard a child laugh? If you can right now, even just imagine what children's laughter sounds like. ... Notice what happened to you when you when you thought about that -- you're a little bit lighter. That has an effect on an entire place. My favorite is when you're on an airplane and you hear a kid laugh. One burst of vocalized fun, that giggle, it uplifts and energizes the entire group of people. We are born knowing that kind of joy, accepting it, dwelling in it, living in it. Strengths science actually teaches us to notice how our own functionality improves when we're working in areas of enjoyment. You might call it satisfaction. There's probably elements of that in flow and those are two of the 5 clues to talent. You might also just call it "fun." So remember when I asked you to pick 1 to 3 words to describe what you noticed about yourself during that moment of fun? Let's go back there. Let that observation, those 1 to 3 words, be your motivation as you move throughout the next week. I invite you to create a moment of fun on purpose. Plan to have one more moment of fun in the next 7 days. Don't just notice them; don't just hope that they're going to happen but really make a make a plan. Your challenge is to have one more moment of fun in the next 7 days. And that's your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 21:47

It's a great one, Maika! I -- you know, when I think about those moments of fun as you were talking about that, I actually feel almost a physical draw come -- like pulling me forward. Like I was thinking about this this morning in the car as I was coming in. I was thinking about a project I'm getting ready to work on and how excited I am about it. And I could feel it like just that, that pulling me forward. And so let me encourage you, if you're thinking about those things, what is that -- what is that moment when you recognize you're in the flow or you're in the zone, or what draws you into it? I've been -- this season, I've been trying to be really mindful of paying attention to those physical triggers of mine that dictate to me, ooh, I'm there, and it actually -- I caught it this morning. I caught that moment of, like, Oh, that feels really good! Like that's some dopamine in the system flooding in there to be like, this feels good. And it propelled me, it encouraged me, it pushed me forward, it drew me -- like, it physically drew me. So I would encourage you, as you think about these talent-mindfulness exercises that we do, that you look for those triggers as well.

Jim Collison 22:49

With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available now in Gallup Access, just Send us your questions or comments to our email address: You can also catch the recorded audio and video of this program, as well as all the past ones, that are available on our CliftonStrengths YouTube channel or our live Gallup Live Webcasts YouTube channel. Both are available out there. If you want to listen to this in podcast form, any podcast app, just search Gallup Podcasts and you will get -- or Gallup Webcasts -- and that will get you there as well. If you're interested in becoming a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach or want to see a list of courses that lead to that or any other of the great training that we have, you can get access to that: There's a contact form there on the page if you want to get more information about it. If you want to sign up for future webcasts, go to And of course, you can join us on Facebook: Want to thank you for joining us. If you're listening live, hang around for some mid-show. If you are listening to the recorded version, just hang tight. You're probably going to get ushered on to the next one. We'll see you with that -- with that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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