Learning to change
Learning to change

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Learning to change

2.4.1 Qualities

Clearly, some qualities are easier to recognise than others. We might be able to identify some of our qualities, but we might choose to skate over some of which we are not very proud, or have little awareness. We might be inclined to be too hard on ourselves and ‘beat ourselves up’ unnecessarily. However, it is impossible to deny that qualities are important. They influence how we come across to other people. Our qualities are also shaped by our values. To give an example, someone’s quality of being generous can be linked to an underlying value in the importance of sharing. In contrast, if someone appears to be miserly they might place a higher value on saving money.

The qualities we have are important to other people. This means that they will play a part in shaping how others respond to you. In turn, these responses are significant in how you come to view yourself. A good example of this can be seen when it comes to getting a job. At a job interview, the interviewer is interested in what the applicant has to offer. This will include what they know and what they can do. But the personal qualities that the applicant shows are vital too. Job interviews are not unique in this respect. In most situations we are weighing up the other person. At the same time, they may well be trying to work out what they make of us.

Activity 9 You’re the interviewer

Allow about 20 minutes for this activity

Watch the videos below Levene, Shehnaz or Karen. Imagine that he or she has come for an interview for a job. What qualities do you think he or she might display

Download this video clip.Video player: Levene
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Transcript: Levene

Levene
In my previous life as… as a project manager in electrical industry my work really involves communicating with a range of individuals – contractors, main contractors, sub-contractors internally and so forth. An example would be – of a difficult situation – would be a supplier failing to deliver on time. Now my work would involve me arranging and negotiating with various bodies to commence work on a particular site. So, a supplier failing to deliver on time creates a lot of problems for me, embarrassment for my organisation, as well as difficulty with the main contractor on site. So, it would involve me perhaps renegotiating one with the main contractor a new start date or possibly with the supplier a new delivery date, but, in any event, it creates an environment where I am having to use a certain amount of skills to get the organisation out of a difficult situation because, quite often in circumstances like that, we would be hit liquidated damages – that is paying for doing the job. So, my task would be to minimise those eventualities.
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Levene
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Download this video clip.Video player: Shehnaz
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Transcript: Shehnaz

Shehnaz
In the beginning I think it was going back to the structured learning of writing the essays because, informally, I wasn't doing that when I was doing the other courses for the school, so it's more academic based. It's doing essays and learning how to re-write everything. But I would say I’m a better essay writer now than I was when I first started the course.
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Shehnaz
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Transcript: Karen

Karen
I left school when I was fifteen and I started work the day after. My qualifications, basically, were nil. I had no GCSEs. No A-Levels. I immediately got myself a job in an office as an office assistant when I left school. Three pounds ten shillings a week was my wage then. My first job was filing clerk and I actually realised that I didn’t know my alphabet properly, so I actually found a file and I stuck it on the wall. My manager asked me what I was doing at that time and I admitted I was getting a little bit confused. And he said, “Well, carry on. That’s a good idea”. Oh – I would rather have the files in the correct order rather than have them wrong!
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Karen
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Comment

Rather than comment on all three, this comment just focuses on Karen. In general terms she seemed to be a caring person. She feels strongly about trying to do a good job as a social worker. She wants to ensure that people are helped to make choices that are appropriate to them.

You may well have spotted different qualities. This does not mean that your answer is wrong – you may be more skilled at noticing people’s qualities. Also, this is very subjective. Just because someone thinks that another person has a particular quality does not necessarily mean that they do really have that quality. However, it does mean that he or she is doing something that conveys a particular message. This is further complicated by the fact that such messages can be intentional or unintentional. They are intentional if someone is trying to deliberately create a particular impression. They may be unintentional if someone reveals something about themselves that they had not meant to.

Activity 10 What qualities are there?

Allow about 20 minutes for this activity

As you have been thinking about qualities, now would be a good time to create a list to act as a reminder about the qualities it is possible to have.

Quickly note all the positive personal qualities you can think of. Many of these are descriptive words (adjectives) such as ‘kind’, ‘honest’ and ‘tolerant’.

If you can, do this activity with someone else. Ideas are more likely to flow if you have someone else’s ideas to react to (and they have yours).

Once you have finished, go back over your list and make a note of the qualities you think you have. If you are not sure, use a question mark.

You can use this list to give you ideas for the next activity.

Activity 11 Imagine you’re the job applicant

Allow about 20 minutes for this activity

This activity stays with the idea of using the job interview as a situation in which we need to be especially aware of our personal qualities. However, a similar awareness can also be of benefit in many other contexts. These might include caring for children, or how we think we should respond to an awkward customer.

Imagine yourself in a job interview. The interview is going really well. You are being asked questions for which you have good answers. The interview concludes and you are asked to wait outside while a decision is made. It is all looking very promising.

If this happened to you, what qualities do you think you would show? Write these down as a list – with each quality on a separate line. Then for each quality try and think of an actual instance where this was involved. This does not need to relate to an interview.

It might start like this:

Quality I would show in an interview When it was involved
Patience (when asked similar questions) Yesterday, someone phoned me about a family get-together. They tried to alter plans we had agreed on – but I (patiently) explained why this was not possible and they eventually accepted this.
Sense of humour An example …

There may be some of your positive qualities that you think you would be unlikely to use in an interview. Start another list for these. It might begin like this:

Quality I might not make apparent in an interview When it was involved
Generosity I am generous with my time – I help to run a voluntary play group and often do extra days when other parents can’t help.
(Bear in mind that it can often be very useful to make such qualities more obvious, especially if you really want that job!)

Comment

Did this exercise seem very difficult or very easy? If you found it easy to write down many qualities, is this a result of thinking you have already done? If you found it difficult, then you may have been too self-critical and found it difficult to believe that you have many qualities. If you think this is the case, you could go back to the activity and see if you can add a few more. Have another look at the list that you created earlier. There may be some qualities there that really apply to you.

The other aspect of qualities is that there may be qualities that you have which you think may hold you back or get in the way of achieving personal change. Sometimes these are ignored, but then they can trip us up when we least expect it. At other times there is a danger of focusing too much on these, with the result that we can see ourselves just in terms of our less than positive qualities. It is probably best to recognise that we all have some of these qualities but that they are not the ones we are going to focus on. Many apparently negative qualities can be used to suggest other, more positive ones. So, for example, someone might see a lack of confidence as a negative. Despite this they keep on going, so this can be re-framed as a quality of persistence and not giving up.

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