- With a partner, or in a group, commit to a regular schedule of meetings, such as 30 minutes per week at a set day and time.
- Choose to meet by Zoom, Skype, phone, or another way that is convenient for everyone.
- Commit to setting this time aside for a Strengths-focused Dialogue, and have other kinds of social exchanges such as making plans or catching up at other times. (Mostly) Some flexibility is a good thing, especially if the participants know each other well.
Participants take turns in the roles of speaker and listener. In the role of speaker, you will describe a recent positive moment, then name the positive feelings you experienced. [Refer to Step 1 in the book Articulating Your Strengths by Jerald Forster and Jennifer Rose.] You will then articulate some of the strengths you heard in your own story [Step 2].
The listener role is very important, and can be challenging and new. Listening means you are not interrupting, judging, or even agreeing or disagreeing with the speaker. This kind of listening is like listening to the radio, where you are not planning a response.
The goals of the listener are:
- to listen fully, without distraction.
- to communicate both in body language and verbally that the speaker is being heard.
- to facilitate the speaker’s articulation of positive moments, positive feelings, and subjective strengths.
Listeners can encourage speakers to expand or go deeper into what they are sharing with open ended questions and prompts such as:
- Is there more?
- Tell me more about _______.
- What positive feelings did you experience?
- What strengths might you have been using? (See Articulating Your Strengths appendices for lists of possible positive feelings and strengths.)
Significantly, the listeners job is not to:
- express sympathy.
- share a similar experience.
- give advice.
All of these might happen at another time, but are not part of a strengths-focused dialogue. At first, listening may not seem like much to offer, but if you ask yourself whether or not you would like an opportunity to be heard, the answer may often be YES.
To review, a strengths-focused dialogue is two or more people taking turns sharing positive moments and putting related strengths into words.
Strengths-focused dialogues form the basis for Strengths-focused Relationships and Communities. They provide a structure for sharing and going deeper into positivity. They also provide an environment for evolving positive solutions and innovations.