“I feel strong when I talk to you.”

It would be pretty sweet to be a manager and have one of your employees say that to you, don’t you think? I do.

“I feel strong when I talk to you.”

Don’t read into it any way but this one: If they said that, aware of the language of the strengths movement, they would mean that as their manager, you bring out the best in them.

“I feel strong when I talk to you.”

It would mean you help them feel smart, savvy and successful whenever they have a conversation with you.

“I feel strong when I talk to you.”

It would mean that they would actively seek you out so they could talk things out with you. They would look for you often. Not warily, cautiously, and timidly, but enthusiastically, because talking with you would feel instinctively natural and right to them.

That’s right, it would mean that they’d actually initiate conversations with you.

“I feel strong when I talk to you.”

It would mean that they’d look forward to appointments you set with them, and that they’d always expect them to be about collaboration, and other good prospects that would leave them energized.

At Joyful Jubilant Learning, we’re on Step 5 of our read-learn-act project using Marcus Buckingham’s 6-week program, Go Put Your Strengths to Work. In this step he coaches us to have conversations with our managers on both our strengths and our weaknesses, and his chapter is peppered with cautions on the pitfalls of doing so. Apparently, having great conversations with their managers is pretty rare for most people.

Those parts of the chapter are kind of discouraging. It’s quite the case for more managing with aloha.

In other parts of his book, Buckingham says we have to have more faith in the intuitive rightness of the way we feel. When we feel we are successful at something, it is highly probable that we’ve been working within activities which make us feel strong; they are activities which have employed our strengths. Thus one of the earliest parts of his 6-Step program is about capturing our stronger moments; if we take notice of them, and realize we’re in them, we can then put ourselves in more of them more often.

Makes a whole lot of sense.

So try this: Start to journal those conversations you have with your manager at work. Just track ‘em with some short notes.

What did you talk about, and when? How did you feel leading up to it, during it, and afterwards?

Look over your notes, and see if you can figure out which kinds of conversations with your manager make you feel strong, and which make you feel weak. Then look for the common threads in those strong-feeling conversations, and see what you can do to have those more often.

Don’t just happen into them, start to plan for them. Inundate them with more meaty stuff, so you can talk about worthwhile matters when youre feeling stronger – tap into the goodness, and milk ‘em for all their worth.

It should work. Its certainly worth a try.

For more help, get your manager to read about my Daily Five Minutes! Learn it together.

Photo Credit: Portraiture Workshop Conversation wonderfully captured by Wazari on Flickr