How to: Build self-awareness


Many of us would say we have it. But do we really?

It is no secret that self-awareness is essential if you want to be successful, but according to Dr. Tasha Eurich 95 percent of people believe they are self-aware, when actually that figure is closer to 10-15%.

So, the chances are you will be working with someone who lacks self-awareness and in fact you and I might also need some work in that area too.

People lacking self-awareness may:

  • Without realizing it, they say things that discourage people.

  • They struggle to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

  • They have difficulty taking ownership of mistakes.

  • They naturally become defensive with feedback or when somebody brings up challenging questions.

  • They only surround themselves with people that agree with them.

  • They can’t adapt how they communicate based on their audience.

So - just what is self-awareness?

Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don't align with your internal standards.

If you're highly self-aware, you can objectively evaluate yourself, manage your emotions, align your behaviour with your values, and understand correctly how others perceive you.

Sounds complex! And it is! Self-awareness is not innate; it is a highly developed skill that just like anything else takes practise.

So just how do others perceive you? And if we talk about this in the workplace or say in an interview, how much time you spend reflecting on this can be critical to your success (Note reflecting, not obsessing!). Most workplace issues stem from someone’s lack of awareness of their impact on others.

Differences in communication styles, personalities and working styles can all contribute to a lack of awareness after all – we don’t know what we don’t know. Increased self-awareness doesn’t mean uncomfortable or challenging situations won’t occur – you just get better at handling them and working towards a positive solution.

Sometimes the most crucial question to ask yourself is whether your impact matches your intentions?

You may have intended to rally the team together with a direct and bold speech, but perhaps you left them feeling disheartened and falling short of expectations.

You may have felt that being 15 minutes late to a meeting wasn’t a big deal, after all you are hardly ever, late right? But to the person waiting – the meeting can’t have felt that important to you, and you may have risked looking unprofessional to them, and not respectful of their time.

Does the impact of these scenarios match the intention?

When we talk about building self-awareness in our teams or our workplaces the first place to start is with US. Are we having constructive clear conversations where we are able to table our opinion even if it feels a little uncomfortable? When you start doing this, you can identify and start to understand what you find so sticky about that conversation. This allows you to start empathising how the other party might be feeling too!

Do you reflect after these interactions to understand how you were perceived? Sometimes we need that objective opinion from our peers to understand how we truly came across.

The bottom line is no matter how much progress you make, there’s always more to learn about yourself. We are all more unaware than aware. To lead others, we must learn to lead ourselves first.

Ange x