A new way to manage frustrations

Feb 23, 2016 | Strengths

By our Director of Strengths-based Development, Vicki Haverson.

Everyone knows what it’s like to feel frustrated. It could be triggered by a belief about feeling short of the mark by your own standards, not being able to contribute what you feel you should, or by someone’s efforts or behavior not meeting our expectations.

Google ‘how to manage frustrations’ and there are endless tips ranging from focusing on the good things in your life and spending time with supportive people, to practicing stress-management breathing and making your environment a haven for calm using Feng Shui.

Whilst I’m not dismissing the merit of any these ideas, what if you were able to manage your frustrations in a completely different way through a better understanding of your strengths?

We tend to find that the same things frustrate us over and over again. That’s because we are always looking to play to our strengths and those strengths have needs – a need to contribute. When those needs are not met they trigger us into places of toxicity where the very things that make us brilliant – our strengths – start to show up as weaknesses to those around us. We all have triggers that people can pull without us being able to stop them that bring out a side of ourselves we’d rather not hear or see. Over time if someone is continually triggering us we often typecast them which can result in saying hurtful things or doing something we later regret.

I know from taking the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment that Maximizer is one of my top 5 strengths. I’m focused on excellence and strengths, both in myself and others and am at my best working on a project focused on improvement. When others focus on weaknesses rather than strengths and are comfortable with things staying as they are I become frustrated and de-energized. This can trigger me into striving for an unattainable excellence to the point where nothing is good enough and I become frustrated by weaknesses, in both myself and others.

Whilst these frustrations will always be there in some form, by understanding them and the triggers I am able recognize when they are happening and relate them back to the needs of my strengths. I ask myself what my strengths are looking to contribute, what they need, what might be triggering them and what I am expecting from others in that moment.

Once you understand them you can draw on your other strengths to support you with your frustrations. For example, by bringing in my strength of Empathy I am able to put myself in the shoes of others to see their perspective, what their own strengths might be wanting to contribute and need. I also use my Empathy to tell me not to be so hard on myself when I am feeling that something or someone (usually myself) isn’t good enough.

When you know your strengths you are able to get clear on what you contribute and also what you need. We know statistically the chances of someone having the same top 5 strengths in the same order as you from taking the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment is 1 in 33 million. Which just goes to show we all make unique contributions and have different needs and triggers.


Vicki Haverson is the Director of Strengths-Based Development for Sparks International Training. As a certified coach with over 17 years experience of working in complex and dynamic commercial environments across Europe and the Middle East, Vicki is passionate about unlocking individual and team potential through focusing on their natural strengths.