What Do You Do Best? How to Identify Your Professional Strengths

By Harvard Business Review
June 20, 2018

We often undervalue what we inherently do well. These questions can help you achieve something that isn’t easy to do.

Experts long have encouraged people to “play to their strengths,” but this is easier said than done. Not because it’s hard to identify what we’re good at, but because we often undervalue what we inherently do well.

You can, however, help identify these strengths by asking yourself these three questions.

What exasperates you? This can be a sign of a skill that comes easily to you, so much so that you get frustrated when it doesn’t to others. For example, you might be good at remembering names, and often get annoyed with others who don’t. But you also might have a terrible sense of direction, and probably irritate other people who intrinsically sense which way is north.

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What compliments do you dismiss? When we’re inherently good at something, we tend to downplay it. “Oh, it was nothing,” we say — and maybe it was nothing to us. But it meant something to another person, which is why they’re thanking you. Notice these moments: They can point to strengths that you underrate in yourself but are valuable to others.

What do you think about when you have nothing to think about? Mulling over something is a sign that it matters to you. Your brain can’t help but come back to it. If it matters to you that much, maybe you’re good at it.

Leaders can ask these questions about their employees, as well, to determine their strengths. This can convince employees their talents bring value to the organization, and help build a team that uses its best assets each day.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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