Writer's Note: This is one of a series of 10 articles on the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer themes. For more info on StrengthsExplorer, click here.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain, Beloved American Novelist
Students with Caring in their Top 3 StrengthsExplorer results believe that helping people is very important, and actively move to make the world a better place in small and big ways. They are intuitively attuned to people who are feeling left out, and they reach out to these people to help them feel like they’re a part of the group. Like the kangaroo, which nurtures its young by enveloping it in a warm pouch, those with the Caring StrengthsExplorer theme are warm, nurturing, thoughtful, and kind, particularly to the helpless or those down on their luck.
Those with the Caring Strengths Explorer theme know that little actions can make a big difference in the world, and they bravely step out to help others whenever they can. They feel most energized when they get the opportunity to show a little kindness to someone and then see what an impact it makes on the person’s day. While the Caring Strengths Explorer theme can sometimes be misunderstood as a “bleeding heart” or “naïve,” particularly when the talent theme is in its infancy and has poor emotional boundaries, at its maturity the Caring theme brings healing to hearts around them and builds up the trust within the group.
In a team dynamic, the Organizer StrengthsExplorer theme is likely to say, “I’ll help the group by making sure everyone is on task and everything is in order.” In contrast, the Caring StrengthsExplorer theme is likely to say, “I’ll help the group by making sure everyone feels like they belong and that they know they’re important.” And while the Presence StrengthsExplorer theme is more likely to resonate with the idea, “I’ll help you by giving voice to your message,” the Caring StrengthsExplorer theme is more likely to resonate with the idea, “I’ll help you by listening to the unvoiced needs of your heart.”
What does the Caring talent theme look like?
“I think little acts of kindness can go a long way. If someone new comes into the group and they seem to be unsure about where they stand, I’ll strike up a conversation with them. I’ll look for common topics and link them up with others they could connect with to integrate them into the group. Or if I see that one of my friends has been a bit down recently, I’ll make it a point to lend a listening ear, encourage them, or buy them a little gift just to let them know that somebody cares. It makes my day when I see their faces light up with a smile. I think a little spark of kindness is like a burst of sunshine into someone’s day.” – M. T.
As a teacher, how do I develop a student with Caring?
- Look out for the little ways this student shows his or her Caring to people and affirm those acts of kindness. Tell the student how his or her Caring make the classroom a warmer, kinder place. Relationships make the team greater than the sum of its parts, so while those with the Caring StrengthsExplorer theme may not be the loudest or the most popular, their actions help to build the bonds within the class and thereby improve the learning environment.
- Chat with the student about how helping is part of your own daily life. Share about formal and informal ways that you help others at home, at work, or in your community. These conversations affirm the power of Caring, and will also serve to spark his or her thinking about the many different ways to help.
- Suggest a few ways that the student could be more proactive in using the Caring talent theme. Is there a “buddy program” or a mentoring program at your school to integrate new students? Are there volunteering opportunities that the student with Caring might enjoy, such as tutoring younger students or raising funds for a community service organization?
As a student with Caring, how do I grow it to maturity?
- List three of your favorite ways to help people. Take a look around you. How could you help someone this week? From your 3 ideas or the list of following ideas, choose one thing and do it this week: visiting an elderly neighbor; doing schoolwork with a friend; helping someone walk their dog; welcoming a new kid at school; or tidying up the classroom for your teacher.
- Look out for other kids who have been left out, and invite them to play with you or join you and your friends for recess. Alternatively, think of ways you could help to make your classroom a warmer and kinder place to be, perhaps by helping others with their schoolwork after yours is done, or by writing little notes of encouragement for your friends. You have the power to make people feel welcome, included, and happy.
- Understand that while your intentions are good, you may not be able to help everyone you see in need. Be careful not to take the entire burden upon your shoulders; do your part, but understand that you are only one piece of the puzzle, and that others will have to play their parts too.
Concluding Thoughts: Like the Relating StrengthsExplorer theme, the Caring theme is often underestimated because it focuses primarily on building relationships rather than on thinking, rallying the group, or getting stuff done. However, relationships are what make the group greater than the sum of its parts rather than simply a few independent solo contributors. Therefore, the efforts of those with the Caring theme, while seemingly less perceptible to outsiders, are vital to the well-being of the group as a whole and must be nurtured accordingly.
Written by Tan Meiling
As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, Meiling is passionate about helping people discover their innate potential and celebrating who they are. She enjoys reading, learning, and sharing her knowledge through writing articles. Meiling is also actively giving StrengthsFinder coaching to individuals and facilitating workshops in Singapore.