Strength Storytelling and Reflective Practice: Tukae Tusemesane
In the following facilitation, the team will engage in a presentation of their strengths. The presentation of strengths invites team members to wonder where their signature strengths might have originated and what people, places and situations encourage them to thrive.
Please form a large circle with the group. Check-in and recall the rules of engagement from the last group meeting. The team will again unite for a common task. You will aim to have a feeling of oneness. You can speak one language and appreciate each other’s strengths for the growth of your group and community. Now recall the conversation from the last meeting about trust and safety. What are the factors that created a feeling of trust and safety in this group? List them on a board or large piece of paper for everyone to see and remember throughout the day.
Next, choose pairs of interview partners. This can be done in whatever way works best for your team. The first pair pulls their chairs outside of the circle and face each other. The rest of the group forms a semi-circle and gets ready to observe and listen with full attention. The storyteller (everyone gets a turn eventually) recalls his or her VIA strengths and picks one or two that he or she wants to talk about with the interviewer. The interviewer will ask (see the Cultivating Strengths Interview at the end of this guide) the storyteller to think about where his or her strength came from, was the strength learned from life’s lessons, or were you born with it? If they were learned, who taught them to you or how did you learn to have the strength? The storyteller is then interviewed by his or her partner in front of the whole group. It is important for the interviewer and storyteller to just look right at each other and pretend that no one else is there so you can concentrate. After your interview is finished (about 20-30 minutes or more if needed), you relax and just listen to the group offer their reflections.
Reflective feedback - This part occurs after the interview is over and the first team member has told his or her story. Now, the group offers appreciative reflections about the strength of the storyteller, using the Walking the Journey Together rules of engagement that are attached here and also included as a separate handout. The storyteller and the interviewer stay outside of a closed circle and are free to just listen to the team reflect on the interview and the strengths. The interview pair stays outside of the circle to listen to the appreciative feedback. They do not respond. They are free to purely listen. The storyteller might want to take notes because it is hard to remember everything that is said. Each team member takes a turn and offers reflections. Usually speaking for about 3 minutes each, but this is flexible.
After the reflections are complete, the interviewer and the storytelling then discuss the ideas from the group reflections that were most useful or meaningful. They just have a dialogue with each other and not with the group yet.
When the interviewer and the storyteller are done discussing, the storyteller and interviewer rejoin the circle and everyone talks together about the experience. Then, the next storyteller becomes the interviewer and the process is repeated with all the pairs until every member has a turn.
Cultivating Strengths Interview
When we live connected to our strengths we are more likely to feel a sense of purpose that gives rise to psychological well-being and happiness. In this exercise we invite you to take a deep dive to the origin of your signature strengths. The VIA provides a lens from which we can view and reflect on our strengths. A signature strength is a character trait that is deeply held – a trait that is part of defining one’s essence. It is a very strong tendency of thought, feeling, and action. As opposed to other character strengths, signature strengths are so central to a person’s psychological identity that suppressing or ignoring any of those strengths would seem unnatural and very difficult. There are many different kinds of stories that might be told. While some might include positive emotions, many tales of courage, justice, humanity, wisdom, temperance, and transcendence are filled with struggle or adversity. All of these situations provide us with valuable lessons.
1. After reviewing your VIA results you may recognize some strengths as very familiar or you may have a different understanding of your strengths. You know yourself best. How do you describe your signature strengths?
2. Next, pick one or two of your signature strengths and think about the origin of these strengths and connect them with your early experiences. Some strengths feel as though you were born with them, they are just part of who you are and have always been. They are part of your temperament. Other strengths are learned through experience, some are even learned through adversity or especially challenging circumstances. What might give your partner a pretty clear picture or idea about where this strength came from? Tell the story of the origin of your strength(s).
• What are the factors that were important to the situation?
• Who noticed this strength and endorsed it for you?
• What good things have come from the times that you have “lived into” or actualized this strength?