As a former Youth Pastor, I have spoken to many young people on a very common topic: how to navigate through challenges in Boy-Girl Relationships (BGR) and courtships. When many young people enter into a courtship or relationship, they are often also in a developmental stage of life and growing in maturity. Navigating through challenges in a courtship often takes a toil emotionally and mentally. Many young people often found out after they enter into such a relationship, that differences in personality can be both a blessing or a snare. Much depends on the ability and maturity to manage these differences.
I interviewed a couple, Samuel Lee and Gloria Pang, who are in the midst of courtship. They actively seek out ways to grow their relationship and believe strongly in commitment and accountability. They actively sought counsel from mentors, surround themselves with peers who can offer them encouragements and they look out for tools that can help them strengthen their relationships.
One of the tools that Samuel and Gloria actively use is the Gallup StrengthsFinder tool. They both believe in using the tool as a a means to discover the best of each another. As they use the StrengthsFinder tool for over a year and actively have different conversations (often deep ones) over each other’s strengths, they experienced different benefits on their relationship. I invited them to share with others their experiences. They graciously agreed. Before we begin, they will like to add some comments about this interview.
- This interview is about how they use the StrengthsFinder tool to grow their relationship. They believe that the tool must be aligned to common values and a commitment and accountability to each other.
- This interview is about how they use the StrengthsFinder tool effectively while continuing to leverage other means to strengthen their relationship. The StrengthsFinder tool remains one of the different means towards their desired outcome of a strong relationship.
Let’s read what they have to say!
1. How do you feel when you first saw each other's top 5?
S: Honestly, I felt slightly discouraged initially because of how different our strengths were like (Hahahaha). It was quite obvious as well because we were both accessing the StrengthsFinder App on our phones and the colours shown were so different! They were just the opposite – Purple and Blue (for Gloria) vs Yellow and Red (for mine). I realized our strengths are in so different domains. After reading through her Strengths descriptions, I realized that StrengthsFinder had come up with a language for me to articulate things about Gloria that I knew intuitively but did not know how to articulate or describe.
G: Daunted! I think I didn’t understand the magnitude of us being created and wired so differently until we talked about it at length on various occasions. While the initial reaction was feeling daunted by the implications, I also believe that there is strength and something exciting about diversity.
2. Out of your partner's top 5 talents, which do you feel often stands out in the relationship and has been a blessing to you?
S: Gloria’s Relator. Definitely. I think her Relator theme is what helps our relationship grow deeper continuously. I often feel like she’s the safest person I can share things, knowing that she values deep sharing. She also responds well to all my sharing because she understands my feelings intuitively without me needing to elaborate much. We often spend hours talking about everything and anything from my work, our pasts or our dreams.
Being her boyfriend, I enjoy her prioritizing our relationship above many of her other important things and it gives me a sense of joy knowing that our connection grows stronger each day. She also gives me a sense of closeness and I have discovered that the way she trusts me has been a really huge blessing.
G: Probably Sam's Futuristic (watch this Futuristic video done by Samuel) and Strategic talent themes! His Futuristic theme means that he thinks and plans for the future as well as paints positive pictures of what the future can look like. His Strategic theme shows him different options and ways to achieve something. So in our relationship, if we feel stuck or might not have a solution to something, his Strategic theme allows him to think of many options and find the best one that will be most beneficial for us.
3. What did you discover about each other after taking the Strengthsfinder assessment that you did not previously know?
S: Hahahaha, I think we both discovered that differences did not mean we would necessarily live in conflict and unhappiness but that we could live complementing each other and enjoying the fruits of having 10 different dominant StrengthsFinder themes!
I began to realize that she was someone who viewed the world rather differently from me through her Responsibility theme. Her description says that driven by her talents she would naturally have high standards for whatever she is tasked with and that she would not rest till she had completed the duty given to her. She also would more than likely say yes to new tasks given to her to perform.
That was something we initially had discussions about because I did not understand why despite her schedule being packed as it was, she would still say yes to doing things for people. We had a good talk about it afterwards. I realized that I need to understand that her heart is to do things for the people she loves. This is something I have gotten used to.
I think one of the takeaways for her was realizing that when I talked about the future, I wasn’t just daydreaming but I was really casting a vision. I love giving hope to people (including her) about what the future could be like. Upon realizing I had the ‘Futuristic’ theme, she started being more open to the future plans I have envisioned and shared with her. Because of my Maximizer and Activator theme as well, she realized that these “future plans” can actually become a real possibility.
G: I guess that we are really truly different? Like the lens through which we view the world can be quite different, as well as the way we process, interpret things, what we think about, what we intrinsically value and are excited or energised by.
4. Which of your talent themes often clash and contribute to the conflicts between the both of you? How did you try to resolve these conflicts?
S: Initially, my Maximizer theme and her Developer theme would clash often and contribute to conflicts. As leaders serving together in our church youth ministry, while I was focused on choosing the best people for a certain role and job, she would often see the opportunity to grow people. At times we would have differences over how we viewed people because of these two themes. Admittedly though, those arguments have helped both our Maximizer and Developer themes mature.
The other way these two themes clashed was in our behaviours. As a Maximizer, I was a lot more impatient with tasks given because I desired to do things the best way and get great results. For her as a Developer, she was rather patient and knew that things needed time and the people we were mentoring needed time to grow and become better at what they are doing.
We resolved these conflicts by firstly acknowledging that no strength was better than the other and we chose to seek to understand each other’s strengths first. After which we would use our other Strengths to help resolve our differences. For example, whenever there was a time crunch, Gloria would realize that by using her Responsibility theme, the right thing to do would be to get the things done quickly. That will align with my Maximizer and Activator themes. However, if we were looking at a long term project, by using my Futuristic theme, I would understand that growing people and being patient with group members or mentees would require time. This will help align me to her Developer theme.
G: Possibly his Maximizer and my Developer! I think his Maximizer theme often compels him to focus on the best or in achieving the best. At times, that makes me feel that our progress or growth in our relationship is insufficient (which is contrary to the lens of the developer talent). At times, I will misunderstand his Maximizer lens and think that he has a constant discontentment with our relationship. That would also imply and made me feel inadequate in this relationship.
5. Which strengths do you think you can intentionally leverage more for the strengthening of this relationship?
S: I think my honest answer would be all the strength we have! But if I have to pick one, I would pick the Strategic theme! In the face of problems and obstacles, I have found that my ability to think outside the box and find alternative solutions helps us to not feel like we are trapped. Through the Strategic theme, I can see the path that would lead us to success and I will discard options that are less useful so that in confusion or crisis, we can still move forward!
G: Relator and Belief themes, I think my Relator theme allows us to build depth in our relationship. My Belief theme helps me by developing new convictions and values in the way I relate to Sam. This can be about relationships in general, or through learning new things about each other in ways that could be powerful. For example, a belief that conflict resolution rather than evasion is important for the relationships allows me to overcome my preference for the latter while honouring Sam’s preference for the former (and an overall strengthening of the relationship).
I think I can harness my Developer theme more as well to move beyond merely recognizing the good and progress in our relationship, to communicating the progress. The communication of our progress can be a source of encouragement and affirmation to the both of us.
6. You went through a StrengthsFinder workshop session that I conducted. How did you benefit from the workshop?
S: I think the workshop was particularly enriching because it helped Gloria and I get to know each other more. Often, misunderstandings happen. To help realize that both persons are actually desiring the same outcome, the knowledge of how both persons are wired is essential! As our StrengthsFinder Coach, you (Victor Seet) provided a safe environment for couples to explore questions and dialogues that helped a lot. One of the things we learnt was our peak experiences (situations that we used all 5 of our dominant strengths for a situation and experience great success). Hearing Gloria share about what brought her fulfilment made me realized that I did not understand her StrengthsFinder themes and I had sometimes unintentionally poured cold water on something she was celebrating. That exercise was fun and simple yet deep and insightful! I would highly encourage the StrengthsFinder workshop to all couples!
G: I think the StrengthsFinder workshop was not just useful for me to understand my partner, but also to know learn how my strengths can be used to be a blessing to each other! I found the workshop very good!
Concluding thoughts: One of the key reasons why the StrengthsFinder tool worked powerfully for Samuel and Gloria was because of the intentional way they used the tool for conversations. Those conversations helped to steer their relationships towards growth. I hope as you read about the benefits through this simple interview, you too can be personally encouraged and challenged to have deep strengths conversations with your partner.
Contact me if you are interested to find out more about the Singapore StrengthsFinder Couple Workshops that I conduct.
Written by Victor Seet
Activator • Communication • Strategic • Self-Assurance • Command
As a Gallup Certified Singapore Strengthsfinder coach, Victor is passionate about strengths engagement and now runs his own training company, Strengths School™ (strengthsschool.com), based in Singapore. He has been actively giving StrengthsFinder leadership and team building workshops to businesses and schools in Singapore as well as Hong Kong, China (Shanghai and Nanjing) and India.