After 4 weeks of intensive lectures, readings, discussions under the guidance of Dr Ryan, we (finally) are asked to start our first practical VIA Character Strength consultation with a person we ourselves pick. The person I choose to work with is a friend whom I know at work for some 4 years. It had indeed taken me a while to decide if he is an ideal choice as I thought, after knowing him for the past 4 years, there may not be any interesting discoveries (and was I wrong!) . I finally decide to partner him for 2 reasons: I want to test Dr Ryan’s last week theory on “there is always more that you are not seeing” when he discussed the topic “Do you SEE your client?”. Secondly, this friend is interested to learn more about VIA Character Strengths and I would like to share more with him.
It turned out to be an enlightening session for us, especially for me. My friend learned how to read and use VIR to get a deeper understanding of himself. I, to my surprise, learned quite some new insights about a friend whom I thought I know well. This is certainly another humbling learning experience for me. Dr Ryan is right! We must always take a humble approach and it is always safe to assume there is far more that we don’t see.
As before, I would like pen down my 3 most important discoveries about Character Strengths and using VIR as a coaching tool:
- Our inclination towards “looking for the gap/bad/weakness” is so culturally entrenched – during our discussion session, despite we were reading a strengths report and my efforts in highlighting his Signature Strengths, there was a point in time where my friend’s focus was solely on why certain strengths were not “up there” or why certain strengths were at the bottom. This all the more reinforces my conviction that the teaching of Character Strengths is necessary to enable all of us to have a more balance view of ourselves and others. Positive Psychology is not about highlighting only the positives but reminding us the importance and benefits of also examining “what works”.
- VIR is an excellent tool when we are at “exploration” stage to get to know a person better. This is because the questions you asked using VIR are generally positive in nature which permits an encouraging atmosphere for people to willingly open up more about their stories.
- VIR is also a good “connecting bridge” enabling us to cross over to explore the “less desirable” side with much less resistance. During the session, we could discuss areas for improvement with ease and at times without noticing that we had “crossed over”. I concluded that this is because VIR has helped position the session in a positive angle that brings about positive emotions which, in turns, help people to look at things more objectively and in perspective. I can relate this to the “Broaden-and-Build” Theory by Dr. B. Federickson where positive emotions widen an array of thoughts and actions and undo negative emotions (i.e. fear and anger).
- 我们长期地被文化熏陶下只关注於他人弱点的惯性，竟是如此的根深蒂固！就拿我朋友的例子来说, 在某一段讨论的时间里，我朋友所关注的问题总是离不开“为什么我这个的性格优点的排名如此这般低？”而不去重视他的关键性格优点（排名最高的五个性格优点）。然，这更加强了我对性格优点教学是必要的的信念。我相信性格优点教学能使我们对人对己有一个较平衡的看法。积极心理学绝非只突出和关注积极的事物，而是提醒我们，在我们绞尽脑汁解决行不通的问题时，也应同样地去研究“什么是行得通”的重要性和好处。
- 我发现VIR是很好的“衔接桥樑”，使我们能够跨越去探索不被受欢迎的一面。在我和朋友讨论期间，我们甚至不知不觉地“越过”另一方，保持轻松地讨论他需要改进的地方。我的结论是VIR积极的定位能帮助我们拥有较正面的情绪，因此我们较能以客观和积极的角度去看待事物，甚至是关于我们的弱点。这也许就是B. Federickson博士的“拓宽及建造”理论：积极的情绪能拓宽思想和行动和消除消极的情绪（恐惧和愤怒）。