Fresh Views

STRENGTHS: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

The strength in the Dolomite Mountains towering over a lovely placid lake in Northern Italy from Deb’s travels in 2018.

We find ourselves in the middle of National Words Matter week. Did you know there was such a week? Words are the basis for communication, no matter what language is spoken. Because words matter, we’ve written about the #LangaugeMatters movement many times, you can read more here and here. Here at AFreshPOVforYou, we embrace the importance, power, and impact of words, not just this week, but all year long!

Our series focusing on words to inspire solution-focused thinking and practice continues this week. You can read more about our take on the power of word selection here. Last week’s word was “Acceptance” – check out our perspective here.

Today’s word is “Strengths”

According to the Miriam Webster Dictionary, “strength” is: the quality or state of being strong : capacity for exertion or endurance: a strong attribute or inherent asset. In solution-focused talk, “strengths” are tasks or actions an individual can do well. For instance, seeking support. In a 2018 #DSMA Twitter Chat we asked participants about their strengths. One individual with diabetes replied:

“I am strong when it comes to seeking support. When I am down, I am self-aware enough to address my hardship. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable.”

Another replied:

“My strength is that I refuse to give up. I am tenacious and do not take no for an answer.”

An individual typically can recognize and clearly identify things they are able to do or achieve and feel happy. We can then encourage focus on those strengths, doing more of what is working, and leveraging those strengths, skills and qualities to create new opportunities. In the same Twitter Chat mentioned above, another participant shared:

“I concentrate on the lifestyle. The day to day life of a person with diabetes. I work for overall health through exercise, and diet for BGL [blood glucose] results. The support I receive takes care of the rest. So, cure or not, let’s make it as good as we can and support the other.”

We’ve learned that sometimes self-identified strengths are not areas we might immediately think of in the healthcare world, as evidenced by this individual’s reply:

“My strengths are passion, humor, and striving to connect with the human being that is each of us. And reminding myself I’m a work in progress.”

Diabetes care and education specialists can learn a lot from simply asking people what strengths they have to help them live well with diabetes. Those words speak volumes, as evidenced in this individual’s reply:

“I have the strength to keep on going even [when] I have a few bad readings here and there.  I keep living and doing what I do.”

The Association for Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES, formerly AADE) embraces using strengths-based language in diabetes care and education, and has a page of resources here that you may find helpful. 

A solution-focused challenge

So our challenge to you this week is to focus on using strengths-based language in your communications to help uncover strengths your clients have. And encourage them to build upon those strengths to do more of what is working for them.

Here are 5 solution-focused questions you can incorporate to focus on strengths:

  1. What strengths do you have and use to help you manage your diabetes every day? 
  2. What other strengths can you identify? (Note: whenever possible we ask “what else” to expand the thought process)
  3. What would success look like for you (e.g. in life, in living with diabetes etc.)?
  4. How can you use your strengths to create opportunities for success?
  5. What else would you like to share with me today?

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If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

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