The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for People Who Have A Positive Presence

People can have a positive presence or a negative presence. The way they choose to behave can have consequences – both for themselves and other people. It can help or hurt people in the family, school, work place or society.

Looking back on your life, can you think of a person who had a positive presence? They may have been a parent, teacher, coach, leader, mentor, manager or another person.

What was their philosophy? What did they believe was important in life? What did they see as their purpose? What were the principles they followed? How did they translate these principles into practise? How did they maintain a sense of perspective?

What did they do to create a positive atmosphere? How did they behave towards people? How did they encourage people? How did they try to find positive solutions to challenges?

Looking back, what are the three words you would use to describe the person’s character? How did they translate these qualities into action? What are the words you think other people would use to describe the person?

There are many ways to encourage people. One approach is to learn from positive systems – relationships, families, schools, teams, work places and organisations – that help people to grow.

Different people encourage others in different ways. One common factor, however, is that they often have – or help to develop – a positive presence. This article explores some of the themes they pursue to make this happen.

Positive Personality

People who encourage others often have a positive attitude. They choose to build on the positive parts of their personality rather than any negative parts.

There are many views about how an individual’s personality develops. Some say it is shaped by nature, some by nurture, some by both. The dictionary definition of personality is:

The combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.

Each person has life experiences and personality traits, but it is their decision how they use these materials. Bearing this in mind, one view is that:

A person can choose how they use their personality characteristics during their time on the planet.

They can choose to be positive or negative, to take responsibility or avoid responsibility. The decisions they make may be strongly influenced by their life experiences and imagination, but they can still make choices.

They can decide how they want to behave. They can decide whether they want to help or hurt other people. Looking ahead, they can ask themselves the following questions.

How do I want to behave in this situation? What are my choices regarding how I can behave? What are the consequences – the pluses and minuses – of each option? Which route do I want to take?  

How can I take responsibility in a situation? How can I buy time to think rather than react straight away? How can I find positive solutions to a particular challenge? How can I do my best in a situation?

How do I feel? How can I manage this feeling rather than let it manage me? How can I be my positive self rather than my negative self? How can I use this feeling to help other people?

Imagine that you want to continue to have a positive personality. You may want to demonstrate this in your attitude and actions. How can you do this in your own way?

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

Describe the specific things you can do to continue to demonstrate a positive attitude in your life and work. 

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things – both for yourself and for other people.

Positive Principles

People who encourage others often have a positive philosophy. They focus on what they believe is important in life. They may believe, for example, in having a sense of gratitude, being generous and helping both present and future generations.

Such people often translate their philosophy into a developing a sense of purpose and following certain principles. They then translate those principles into action in their daily lives and work.

Great educators, for example, believe in following certain principles. They may believe it is important to encourage, educate and enable people to shape their future lives. They then pass on knowledge and practical tools that people can use to achieve their pictures of success.

How to clarify the principles you want to follow? One approach is to start by brainstorming these. Here are some answers that people give when focusing on this theme. 

The principles I want to follow in my life are:

To continue to be grateful … To enjoy life … To be kind … To encourage people … To create beauty … To show people a better way … To enable people to succeed … To help to build a better world.

Imagine you have clarified your principles. Looking ahead, you can rehearse how to express these in a particular professional or personal situation. You can then go into the situation, be fully present and do your best to follow your principles.

Emerging from the situation, you can gain strength by returning to your core principles. You can take time to relax, reflect and refocus. You can then rehearse how to follow your principles in the next situation.

Imagine you want to follow positive principles in your life and work. You may want to demonstrate these in your attitude and actions. How can you do this in your own way?

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

Describe the positive principles you want to follow in your life and work.

Describe the specific things you can do to translate these principles into action. 

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things – both for yourself and for other people.

Positive Presence

People who have a positive presence are often warm and welcoming. They create an encouraging environment in which people feel at ease and able to be themselves. Different people do this in different ways.

Good mentors, for example, create a stimulating sanctuary in which the mentee feels able to explore their chosen themes. They focus on what the person wants to achieve and clarify the possible ways forward.

If appropriate, the mentor asks if it is okay for them to share some ideas. They then pass on knowledge and practical tools the person can use to achieve their picture of success.

Good mentors are generous sages who want to help people to succeed. They may appear relaxed, but some rehearse everything. Here are some of the themes they explore before meeting a person.

There are many ways to provide a positive presence. You may make a person feel welcome and listen while they share challenging issues. You may create a beautiful environment or serve nourishing food.

You may run an inspiring educational session and provide practical tools that people can use to shape their futures. You may use your own strengths to ensure people have enriching experiences and take away positive memories for life.

Imagine you want to continue to have a positive presence and help to encourage people. How can you do this in your own way?

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

Describe the specific things you can do to continue to have a positive presence and encourage people. 

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things – both for yourself and for other people.

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