What do we consider our weaknesses

How weaknesses become strengths

Whether a character trait is a strength or a weakness depends on the context - and we can learn to benefit from supposed weaknesses.

In professional life there are often moments in which one can perceive behavior in oneself that one does not really approve of: lack of concentration and distraction, lack of organization, unstructuredness, impatience, insecurity. However, it is in the eye of the beholder and on the respective situation whether one's own strength is a weakness or possibly the unpleasant weakness turns out to be a strength. Dealing with our weaknesses usually prevents us from seeing that, depending on the application, they can be our strength. Instead of hiding and suppressing them, it is advisable to deal with them and to be conscious about them. Various methods help us to find out about them and to appreciate them.

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Can weaknesses be strengths? You can. Our weaknesses are mostly exaggerated strengths, which are rated positively or negatively depending on the situation. To clarify: Imagine you have a colleague who seems very calm and shy, tells little, is not at all entertaining and does not contribute much to a lively togetherness. In everyday office life this may be boring and make him appear overly cautious or incompetent. As a consultant, lawyer and also as a doctor, his manner can be ideal because he knows how to convey his confidentiality to customers, clients and patients and appears to them well thought-out and level-headed. He gains trust through his kind and reflects competence.

The other side of the coin

Let us now look at "perfectionism". We understand it to mean that a person works conscientiously, precisely and leaves nothing to chance. The person is therefore an extremely reliable employee. She is valued for this - in certain positions. The flip side of the coin: The person needs a lot of time to live up to their perfectionism and quickly comes under pressure to meet deadlines. She faces displeasure because she usually runs at the last minute and then possibly comments on her own work with the words that it is not perfect. In activities such as accounting, controlling and programming, this ability is not valued highly enough; in others it can be fatal. So perfection only becomes a weakness when it comes to tasks in which this behavior prevents success rather than promotes it. Or when every step of the work is checked so often for fear of making a mistake that most of the work is left standing. This is how it is with almost all "weaknesses": They are exaggerated strengths. A high level of initiative can quickly turn into a lack of teamwork. And a very great deal of caution can lead to a lack of determination.

Damage to career: danger and handling

We notice our supposed weaknesses because they hinder us here and there in our professional life, but we rarely care about them. We take them for granted. When we approach our weaknesses, this usually only happens at the beginning of working life, when asked in an interview, if they become relevant when changing jobs or in an employee interview. It is understandable that we tend to look at our strengths, because it strengthens our self-confidence. However, it carries the risk of hindering or even harming our career.

However, if you take the effort and take the time to get to know yourself better and to pay more attention to your own weaknesses, a great deal of self-confidence can arise from these insights. Weaknesses do not have to be hidden, but can be used consciously and converted into strengths.

In addition, many of our supposed weaknesses arise from a wrong understanding of roles. Some superiors plague self-doubts. You are under pressure with the opinion that a manager must always stand like a rock, must never show uncertainty and must hold a candle to all employees or even be one step ahead - a misconception! Because many employees identify themselves with superiors who are human and approachable, who are aware of their own deficits and who use each team member according to their strengths in such a way that what they do together leads to success.

Find out what your weaknesses are

There are different methods of approaching your own weaknesses and strengths. Starting with the SWOT, personality and resource analysis to self-reflection.

Proceed as follows:

  • Make your own list of supposed weaknesses
  • Recognize and write down the effects / disadvantages of these weaknesses
  • Turn the tables and write down situations where your weaknesses come in handy
  • Gaining knowledge of when weaknesses become strengths

In detail this means:

Target yourself, observe and write down your behaviors that you do not really approve of. The above five weaknesses are very common:

  • Lack of concentration and distraction
  • lack of organization
  • Unstructuredness
  • impatience
  • uncertainty

Complete your personal list by observing yourself carefully over several days and writing down your characteristics. Then think about what these supposed weaknesses lead to, for example:

  • cost you time and energy
  • obstruct chances of success and advancement
  • cause you stress
  • hinder - you stand in your own way

These are the disadvantages of their properties. Now turn the tables and look at the same traits in a positive light, for example what is your impatience good for?

  • You drive projects forward
  • You are persistent and stick with it
  • You are energetic and dynamic
  • You drive your team members

Do the same with any other of your alleged weaknesses.

Appreciate strengths

Executives often take what their employees are good at or do for granted and therefore don't waste a lot of words about it. After all, you got the job thanks to your skills. Instead, they concentrate on behaviors in which employees do not meet their expectations - even if these are of little relevance to the success of their work. The perspective usually only changes when the employee leaves the company and someone else takes over the position. Only then are the weaknesses put into perspective and the positive sides named. What was taken for granted before is gaining in value and recognition.

In the employee appraisal, the positive balance is usually ticked off quickly in order to then focus on the inadequacies and mistakes of the employees. A groundbreaking development discussion quickly turns into a critical discussion. This triggers discomfort and resistance among employees. That is why managers should focus on their strengths and discuss the following questions in an appraisal interview:

  • What resulted in the employee doing the assigned task well?
  • What special skills did he or she show?
  • What should his or her field of work look like in the future so that he or she can make even better use of these skills?

Employees only perform at their best if they can concentrate their time and energy on tasks and solutions in which they can use their distinctive skills. If, on the other hand, they spend their energy primarily on coping with their inadequacies, they persist in mediocrity.

Debilitate weaknesses

What can employees do if it is to be expected that their weaknesses will predominantly be discussed in their appraisal interview?

  • Prepare yourself well for the appraisal interview and the possible points of criticism and view them self-critically.
  • Listen carefully and calmly.
  • Explain and justify your approach with reasonable and conclusive arguments.
  • Stick to the facts and keep it short. Monologizing tires and is not beneficial.
  • Remain calm, matter-of-fact and in a friendly tone.
  • Formulate positively, solution and future-oriented, not defensive.
  • Be aware that it is precisely in this process that you are showing strength and self-confidence.
  • If necessary, turn the conversation towards a positive agreement at the end.

Conclusion: learning to benefit from alleged weaknesses

A look at one's own weaknesses opens up new perspectives. These are only apparently negative. They are just as useful and important as the strengths, it just depends on the context in which they are visible. Many people are not aware of this connection. Many focus increasingly on their weaknesses and lose sight of their strengths in the process. This creates uncertainty, which in turn is a hindrance to a career.

In order to divert the focus from the weaknesses to the strengths, a neutral conversation partner is helpful. He or she opens the eyes to the obvious strengths and to those hidden behind the “weaknesses”. Then it often becomes clear that one can also benefit from many alleged weaknesses, provided that they are used consciously, at the right time and in the right situations. So be happy about your weaknesses, because they are also your strengths.