Traits vs. Skills: Do You Know the Difference?

USANA Skills Personal Development

Of the many great things about working at USANA, taking advantage of growth and learning opportunities the company offers rate near the top of my list. I believe it shows that USANA is invested in its employees traits and skills. And who doesn’t appreciate a company like that?

As part of a training program I am participating in, I attended a talk discussing the difference between traits and skills.

strengths finder book personal developmentFirst, we were asked to complete a survey associated with the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The survey pinpointed our top five strengths, the traits that we should focus on to succeed. This is the first time I had heard of this book, and I was interested to see what this would show me based upon other assessment surveys I have taken in the past such as DISC and Myers-Briggs.

Traits vs. Skills

Bob Kupfer, USANA’s executive director of global operations, led the discussion. Bob shared that he had first completed the Strengths Finder survey a few years ago, and that it is still accurate today. He clarified that traits and skills are different.

  • Traits last a lifetime. Skills are things you can be taught and then you forget.
  • Traits are your natural abilities. They are a part of who you are, what you do and why you do it.
  • Skills are things you do well and what most performance comments are based upon, such as being detail-oriented, having good writing skills and being a clear communicator.

Where to Focus?

I believe if many of us are asked what our strengths and weaknesses are, we would focus on improving our skills. However, when you focus on traits, you are focusing on the things you do best.

Bob stressed that we should work on playing to our strengths — your top traits — to succeed. Not all weaknesses, especially trait-based, make sense to expend time and energy to improve.

crucial conversation personal development bookI found this advice very useful and practical. He ended his talk with an important question: do our strengths match our career path? Sometimes, they may not.

While I was surprised at my top five traits, after reading the details included in the book about the traits, how to work with them (not against them), and how to maximize them for success, I do believe they are accurate. At least for where I am in my life right now. I will take it again in a few years and see if the results are different.

The next book we will be reading is Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

This is another book I have not read before. Strong communication skills are critical in the workplace, and can also be helpful when dealing with twin 5-year-olds. I am looking forward to reading it.

Make sure to check out the infographic below for more information on traits vs. skills!

traits vs skills infographic - self improvement

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How About You?

Now it’s your turn: Have you read either of these books? What do you think of focusing on your traits vs. skills? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Editor’s note: Last updated 2/13/17 

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3 replies
  1. Djoahnne Uba
    Djoahnne Uba says:

    I’ll make sure I get a copy of Strengths Finder. I want to find out mine and share it with my team here in the Philippines. This is interesting and I’m sure would be of great help in strengthening our Usana business here in the Philippines especially in Mindanao and Visayas. Thanks for sharing!

  2. sasidhar
    sasidhar says:

    Hi Lisa,
    pretty Good Articles !!! and Suggestion of books are superb i heard about these book but couldn’t have time to buy and read the book… will try to read the books

  3. Sia'a Alama
    Sia'a Alama says:

    Thank you for sharing and giving a thorough explanation on the difference between the two words. I would love to get a copy of the book.


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