CliftonStrengths: Communication “The Storyteller”

People with the theme of communication feel they must express themselves, and this expression can take many forms – verbally, artistically, musically, through writing, how one dresses, teaches or even how one tells stories. They want to let people know how they are feeling and how they connect to others around them, and they can even use this theme to help others express themselves.

Because people with this strength generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words, Detara, an MU Career Center employee, explains how her strength of communication, “allows me to talk to any and everybody. Sometimes it takes over the place where most people would be shy.” In addition to communication, Detara also has adaptability, which she explains influences her communication strength. “Whenever you throw me into a new environment, I can feel my way around and make myself comfortable,” she explains. Because the other talent themes a person has influences the way they execute each theme, each talent theme is unique to each person. For Detara, she utilizes her communication strength as a means to adapt to new situations in addition to using it to express herself.

Another unique aspect about the theme of communication is the fact that people with this theme want information to survive. They want to capture the attention of their audience, which is why they search for phrases with powerful and dramatic word combinations. Having expressions shut down or squashed can zap your communication of energy. When she thinks there is information people should know, Detara explains how, “I tend to play the devil’s advocate in a way…I tend to open up people’s perspectives to see multiple sides.” In addition to making information known, Detara also enjoys using her strength to better people. “I’m very persuasive, so a lot of times I tend to push other people out of their comfort zone even if I myself could not do it,” she explains. “I have gotten several of my friends to join different organizations and pick up different positions.”

While Detara only uses her skills of persuasion and communication on a small scale, there are people like dictators and politicians who use this strength to pique the interests of everyday people. Detara explains how, “A lot of dictators have this strength, and they have mastered it to the point where you can be loved even when you do things that are not ethically sound. They embody what it is… to be able to utilize your words, not necessarily for the good, but being able to express this whole dream and allow other people to take it on.” In this sense, communication is misused to convince a mass of people that a certain message is more favorable than it actually appears. Those who use their strengths properly dislike when the scales tip in the favor of selfishness and excessive individualism. Detara believes that it is important to bring attention to this type of communication, which often goes unchecked. “A lot of times, nobody ever looks into it, especially for politics, and it’s like that’s the way you woo a lot of people…I think we can learn a lot from studying people like that.”

Despite how communication can be used negatively, when used positively communication can better not only yourself but the others around you who chose to follow your message, which is why it is important to hunt for the perfect phrase to draw your audience in without misleading them. Because you will always do well in roles that capture people’s attention, areas like teaching or the media are a good place to consider pursuing. Those with the strength of communication thrive in the presence of others, where they can give words to their stories.