Coaching, and the field of positive psychology more broadly, is
getting a lot of attention in HR circles these days. Dr. Robert
Biswas-Diener, one of the industry leaders in positive psychology
coaching, has written several books on the topic.
What initially sparked your interest in positive psychology coaching?
Robert Biswas-Diener: It was the marriage of two loves of mine:
positive psychology and coaching. It turns out they are natural bedfellows.
At one point in my career, I had gone to graduate school to
become a clinician because I really liked the idea of working one-onone
with someone to help them. I learned that I did not want to do
that where depression is concerned. I think therapy is noble, but I did
not want to work with depressed people all day because it was not
my best talent.
I also was a positive psychology researcher. I was researching happiness
and I quite loved that, but I was frustrated on that side because
there were not many opportunities as a researcher to dynamically and
practically help individuals.
When I thought of coaching, I realized there is an opportunity to
put both of these together, merging my research expertise with my
desire and ability to work with people one-on-one – and positive psychology
coaching was born.
When you are working with executives or within an organizational
context, what positive psychology interventions or
principles have you found to be most valuable? Which
ones do people or leaders gravitate towards?
RBD: The first and easiest one is strengths. Strengths psychology
is about capitalizing on people’s natural passions
and talents. Strengths psychology is the easiest to sell, in
part, because it is already accepted within the
business world. The Gallup Organization
has the StrengthsFinder, and has published
bestselling books on strengths. It is easy to
say we are going to leverage strengths for
productivity or for the bottom line.
However, when you come in with something
like happiness, almost by definition,
that word seems a bit fuzzier, and it takes a
bit more selling.
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ JULY/AUGUST 2015 ❚ 25