The Art of Strengths Coaching

B is for Being A Builder rather than A Blamer

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People can choose to be builders or blamers. They can choose to build on what people have in common or blame others.

The first route can help to create a better future. The second can create pain for both present and future generations.

Many people want similar things in life. They want to healthy, happy and create a hopeful future for their children. This is ‘What’ they want. People sometimes get into conflict, however, about ‘How’ to achieve these aims.

Builders often help people to focus on the real things they want in life. They then help them to find positive ways to achieve these goals.

Looking back on your life, have you known or heard about a person who was a builder rather than a blamer? What did they do to, for example, help other people?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a person you have known or heard about who was a builder rather than a blamer.

Describe the specific things they did to be a builder.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of them being a builder.

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Builders focus on what people have in common. They look beneath a blame culture, for example, and focus on people’s real human needs. If appropriate, they may then help the stakeholders to agree on common goals.

Imagine such a person is counselling divorcing parents. The couple may say they disagree about everything. When asked if they want the best for their children, however, the parents will say: “Of course we do.”

The counsellor may then ask the parents:

“Looking back in future years, what do you want the children to be saying about how you behaved towards them after the divorce?”

Parents often say things like: “We want them to be saying that we encouraged them, rather than used them as pawns.”

Focusing on the children’s welfare, the parents can be encouraged to agree on some common goals. They can then be helped to get some early successes.

Builders Often Focus
On The Third Side

There are many models for helping people to build on common ground. Builders often encourage people to focus on what is called The Third Side.

People can get into difficulties because they sit opposite each other and fight for their own agendas.

Each party says the equivalent of: “I am right,” or “Our side is right.” “You are wrong.” These are the First and Second Sides.

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People are more likely to solve things if they can sit side by side and look together towards a Third Side.

This Third Side can be the greater goal, the picture of success or whatever. The common goal may be, for example, the children’s welfare after a divorce, the team’s mission or the kind of world we want to pass on to future generations.

Good mediators, for example, encourage the interested parties to look together at a compelling Third Side. They then say things like:

“These are the goals to achieve. This is the picture of success. These are the benefits of achieving the goals.

“Is this something you want to work towards achieving?

“If so, how can you do your best to contribute to achieving the goals? How can you help other people to achieve the goals?”

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Mediators keep bringing people back to the ‘What’ – the real results they want to achieve. This can be challenging, because people often want to get into arguing about the ‘How’.

The key is to keep returning to the ‘What’. This calls for following certain rules. It is important:

To show respect and recognise the authenticity of each person’s feelings because everybody must feel they have been heard.

To encourage people to look to the future, rather than fight about the past.

To get people to be super specific about the desired outcome by asking: “What are the real results you want to achieve?”

To encourage the parties to put the challenge in positive terms. For example: “How can we work together to achieve success?” Rather than: “Why can’t we stop fighting?”

To build on the common ground, get some quick success and begin to build confidence.

Builders love to find solutions to challenges. Sometimes they go into this mode when hearing people talk about problems in the world. They channel their energy by focusing on the following themes.

What do the various people want? What is the potential common ground? What could be an agreed picture of success?

How could people achieve these goals? What are the strategies they could follow to achieve success? How could they get some early wins?

How can I use these lessons in my own life? How can I continue to be a builder and help other people?

Builders continually try to improve in their own lives and work. They aim to demonstrate the spirit and, if appropriate, the strategies that others can follow to be builders rather than blamers.

How can you continue to be a good builder? If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the rating you would give yourself regarding being a builder rather than a blamer. Do this on a scale 0 – 10 with 10 being the highest rating for being a good builder.

Describe the rating that you believe other people would give you regarding you being a builder.

Describe the specific things you can do to maintain or improve the ratings regarding being a good builder.

Describe the specific benefits of continuing to be a good builder.

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