Improving Your Self Awareness

Apparently, when the machines become self-aware, we’re in trouble!! Recent studies have found, however, that when humans aren’t self-aware, businesses are in even more trouble.

We’ve all heard it and probably said it from time to time: “That person has no self-awareness.” It’s almost always derogatory and is often used to describe someone who simply has no idea of how what they say or does affects others.

But what does it really mean to be self-aware?

Is it really important to be self-aware?

And are there ways that a person can develop self-awareness?

Hopefully we can answer these questions for you and help you to improve your own self-awareness (as long as you are convinced it needs doing of course!).

What does it mean to be self-aware?

In general, most people perceive self-awareness as the ability to understand one’s own personality and to be aware of one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Someone who is self-aware clearly perceives his emotions, motivations, thoughts, and beliefs, and also understands how other people view him, his attitude, and how he responds to people and situations outside of himself.

People who are not self-aware may routinely offend or confuse people with their statements. They are not able to gauge what is appropriate or may be unable to “read the room.” Because people who don’t have self-awareness do not routinely think about the thoughts, feelings, and needs of others, they can easily become bullies, know-it-alls, and control-freaks. This is as bad for leaders in a business as it is for employees.

Is self-awareness important in business?

A study conducted by the Korn Ferry Institute discovered that businesses who have self-aware employees have higher stock returns. Essentially, they linked high profits with self-awareness of employees. Why is this? Because people who are self-aware have a much firmer grasp on their own strengths and weaknesses. This allows those who are better suited for certain tasks to volunteer for them, preventing employees who might be less qualified to take them on. Less time is wasted.

These companies also have fewer interpersonal disputes. Those who are able to understand their own weaknesses can stop themselves from making a comment or doing something that will offend, belittle, or degrade another employee. Employees are also more likely to react appropriately to change or to discomfort. They become problem solvers, instead of problem causers and are also less likely to wallow in a negative situation, when they could be fixing it.

Not having self-awareness can be a serious problem for managers and leaders in a business or organisation, as those who lack this personality trait are often bullies. While bullies might be able to muscle some people into working hard, most people shut down under this kind of leadership. Other traits that comes along with a lack of self-awareness include being passive aggressive, defensive, and over-confident. This type of employee or leader will also blame others for their mistakes or make excuses when they fail. In general, they’re the type of person who makes a workplace extremely unfriendly and unproductive.

How can you develop self-awareness?

Self-awareness is something every great leader and every dedicated employee needs. There are many ways to develop self-awareness, all of which begin with understanding how self-aware you are right now. The Johari window is a good example of a tool that can be used to gauge your own self-awareness.

It uses four categories: “Not Known to Others,” “Know to Others,” “Known to Self,” and “Not Known to Self,” and a series of fifty-five adjectives, assigned to these categories by a person’s peers, in order to evaluate that person’s level of self-awareness.

For example, one of the adjectives is “witty.” If that trait is assigned as “Know to Self,” but “Not Known to Others,” it is a “Façade.” If it is, however, “Known to Others,” but “Not Known to Self,” it is a “Blind Spot.”

This is only one of many tools that can be used to determine how self-aware a person is. If there are blind spots that a person wants to work on, there are ways to uncover that spot and be more aware of it. These include:

  1. Asking someone for help. There is never anything wrong with asking for help. If you have something that you want to improve about yourself, asking for suggestions from someone who knows you well and can give you real feedback about your habits, personality, or values is often the best way to understand what you can do to improve.
  2. Make yourself reminders. Leaving yourself a note on the screen of your computer is a great way to remind yourself to think about others and their thoughts and feelings. As you go throughout your day, you can refer back to this note and evaluate your interactions and reactions, based on the desire to become more self-aware.
  3. Take a personality test. The Myers-Briggs is a great example of a test that can help you better understand why you do things and how you can improve your interactions based on that knowledge.

You will find even more tools and information on developing your self awareness in our Self Assessment course.

Developing your self-awareness will benefit your relationships at work and at home - so why wait?