Why You Should Write Down Your Weaknesses

The Best Self-Assessment? Writing Down Your Weaknesses
by Jherell Drain
Photos Nicole Baas | April 12, 2016

You know your strengths, and you claim to know your weaknesses. But how sure are you?

You're killing it at your latest interview. Your outfit is stylish but appropriate, your references are on point, and you’ve answered every question with ease and confidence. Well, almost.

The final question the interviewer asks is: “What are some of your weaknesses?”

Maybe you have some stock answers handy. Or maybe you’re just stuck. Either way, you recognize that coming up with a few of your weaknesses isn’t as easy as identifying your (many) strengths.

Weaknesses are seen as something you don't want to divulge. But, like our strengths, our weaknesses make up who we are. Instead of pushing your weaknesses back to the void in your mind reserved for random trivia facts and throwback song lyrics, try writing down your weaknesses, today, now. Seeing them laid out could help you in ways you haven’t considered.

SELF-AWARENESS

As previously mentioned, our weaknesses make us who we are. So, while it’s great to be able to easily identify our strengths, it’s just as important to take note of areas in need of improvement. As career coach Hallie Crawford writes, “Not owning [our weaknesses] or accepting them is like not accepting a part of who were are—warts and all.”

To start, Crawford suggests writing down your weaknesses, and then asking a confidante if he or she agrees with your self-examination. That way, you’ll not only gain a better understanding of what you recognize as your weaknesses, but you’ll also get different perspectives from those close to you. While we may think that we know ourselves pretty well, we’re also too close to the product {click to tweet}, as they say.  Those around us may be able to contribute valuable insight.  

In the end, you may learn something new about yourself in the process.

IMPROVEMENT AND GROWTH

Obvious statement alert: identifying our weaknesses allows us to pinpoint areas where we can improve. Maybe you’re chronically late to meetings, or you have trouble balancing multiple projects at once. Whatever the scenario, identifying your weaknesses gives you the opportunity to acknowledge and work on areas in need of improvement — before someone else pinpoints them for you. 

“Instead of viewing weaknesses as problems to be minimized and worked around, we can view our vulnerabilities as a function of unfulfilled strengths.”

So, let’s say you’ve jotted down a list of your weaknesses and even asked for feedback from those who are close to you. Now, it’s time for action. After identifying growth areas, try brainstorming your next course of action. For example, if you’re a procrastinator, you can try investing in a new planner or a smartphone app that can help steer you in the right direction.

UNCOVER HIDDEN STRENGTHS

Think about it: what if these seldom-mentioned weaknesses of ours were actually strengths just waiting to be acknowledged? Forbes contributor Brett Steenbarger writes, “Instead of viewing weaknesses as problems to be minimized and worked around, we can view our vulnerabilities as a function of unfulfilled strengths.” Steenbarger hypothetically references a frustrated worker who is unproductive in his office cubicle but eagerly participates when included in a team as an example.

Instead of merely writing off your weaknesses as bad traits, try digging a bit deeper. Ask yourself, “What’s the underlying cause of this behavior?” Do you feel unproductive while working in your cubicle because you’re unmotivated or is it because you prefer working in a more collaborative environment?

While every weakness doesn’t need to be rationalized, it may be useful to search for underlying strengths buried beneath our so-called weaknesses.

STRESS RELIEF

But wouldn’t listing my weaknesses lead to more stress? Not if you change your perspective, of course.

Identifying your weaknesses isn’t supposed to be detrimental. Instead, it should be an opportunity for self-reflection and improvement. Thus, turning something considered negative into a more positive experience.

Plus, when you have your stress under control, you can actually benefit from it. So instead of running away from your stress (/weaknesses), use it as momentum to push yourself and turn that negative into a well-deserved positive.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

All in all, identifying, listing and acting on our weaknesses is a learning opportunity. Learning who we are. Learning how we can make improvements. Learning how to answer that dreaded interview question with the utmost confidence.

According to Steenbarger, “Finding and expressing the strengths underlying our weaknesses not only makes us stronger. It makes us truer to ourselves.” 

That’s something we can all learn to live with, right?

What are your thoughts on listing your weaknesses?