Self-awareness in the workplace: the concept (and why to practice it?)

self-awareness concept
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Self-awareness in the workplace is the latest buzzword…for its role in management and leadership. And why not? It is always good to be aware of emotions, thoughts, strengths, and weaknesses. It undoubtedly helps us grow in our career in the most graceful manner.

In this article, we first explore the concept of self-awareness what it means to be self-aware. Then how self-awareness can prove beneficial for your work. And lastly, in what ways you can start practicing it.

There is no cure and no improving of the world that does not begin with the individual himself

Carl Jung

What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness means accurately identifying your thoughts and emotions and how they influence your behavior and decisions. It is a big part of emotional intelligence.

  • How much do you understand your decisions – why did you do what you did? 
  • What drives you – your values, motivation? 
  • Do you know what makes you unique? 
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Self-awareness helps you know answers to all such questions. It helps you understand – who you are as an individual and how you adjust yourself to your surroundings.

Self-awareness is one of the most important psychological traits you must continually learn and practice. It not only helps you act consciously under challenging situations but also makes you more open to third perspectives. You become more compassionate and empathetic towards others and yourself.

Did you know? Though most of us think we are self-aware, only 10-15% of people are

Two types of self-awareness

Self-awareness is necessary for both individual fulfillment and how others perceive you. There are two broad categories:

  1. Internal self-awareness: for individual satisfaction – This is a kind of personal awareness. It means how well you understand your ambitions, emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Internal self-awareness helps attain high levels of work satisfaction and makes you resilient.
  2. External self-awareness: how others perceive you is more about public self-awareness. It means how well you are aware of others’ perceptions of you. For example, you share feedback and recognize that your employee is not satisfied because of your tone. Another example is when you know your team isn’t happy with a decision, how well can you understand their point of view & make a change? External self-awareness helps instill trust in a team towards you & makes you more empathetic.

Are both categories related?

No, both are independent. Knowing one cannot help you understand the other type of self-awareness. Finding the right balance between two kinds of self-awareness is how you gain maximum benefits in the workplace.

Why do you need self-awareness in the workplace?

Everyone loves to work in a team where team members are supportive of each other, and every individual is doing their best. How do you achieve such a team? 

Self-awareness helps you build an excellent team and as an individual to grow and excel. Some of the advantages of being self-aware include:

  • You can understand what you do well and where you need to improve.
  • It helps you control your emotional outburst in a difficult situation or emotional turmoil. 
  • Builds a positive attitude that boosts confidence and self-esteem
  • Helps to deal with work stress conflicts in a matured manner by managing emotions 
  • Become a better leader by understanding how your team perceive your behavior
  • Increase empathy and tolerance towards different perspectives and thoughts
  • It helps you make rational decisions without emotional influence.
  • Increases productivity

Self-awareness skills

When you practice self-awareness, you become aware of your emotions and feelings and begin to understand your behavior with others. Here are some skills that you develop on the go:

  • Empathy – to understand others’ circumstances
  • Confidence – in your tone and body language
  • Mindfulness – to be in the moment and notice what is going on around you
  • Wisdom – to accept feedback and willingness to learn. 
  • Kindness – appreciating the contribution other people are adding to your work/team.
  • Patience – in stressful or conflicting situations

Applications of self-awareness in the workplace

Now that we looked at the significant role self-awareness plays in the workplace, let’s look at some examples/applications:

#1. Understanding your mood in the current situation

How well can you define what emotions you are feeling in the moment? Anger, joy, fear, confidence, etc. For example, when you are unhappy with your team’s decision, what emotion do you feel? When you’ve not finished the assigned work, what do you think?

There is a range of emotions we experience daily. Self-awareness helps us recognize them and helps us think of a solution to contain them instead of making a mess of ourselves.

#2. Overcoming challenges

How do you react when you find yourself in a tight spot at work? When someone confronts you about something, how do you handle your emotions?

Being self-aware about everyday challenges can help you understand the coping mechanisms you use:

  • under pressure
  • when you have to say no
  • to confront someone

#3. Being true to yourself

Does your job align with your goals? Can you make your point in a discussion? Are your decisions only yours or influenced by others?

Being self-aware also means being true to yourself. Paying attention to feelings and giving yourself the due importance makes you feel satisfied and also help you grow in the right direction. This in turn will increase your happiness quotient at the workplace!

#4. Identifying strengths & weaknesses

Have you answered this question in your job interview – what are your strengths & weakness? Do you know what your core skills are? In what ways are you benefitting your organization? How open are you to undertake training where you lack?

No one is perfect (even if people believe they are!). We all have both positives and negatives added to our personalities. Being self-aware can help us highlight our strengths by undertaking responsibilities in that direction. Knowing our weaknesses pushes us to learn more & grow more.

How to be self-aware?

Before you begin with any practice method on building or improving self-awareness skills, it is crucial to know how self-aware you already are? Once you know how self-aware you are, you can precisely begin getting better at it.

Here are some practices for improving/building self-awareness:

  1. Keep an open mind and be open to feedback. Regular constructive feedback can help you overcome your weaknesses and adapt to different approaches.
  2. Practice mindfulness to be aware of your surroundings and your actions 
  3. Ask “what?” questions to yourself. What?” related questions make you stay focused and increase productivity. For example – “What makes me feel unhappy at work?”, “What makes me do my best?” “
  4. Be a good listener. Pay attention to who is speaking without judging or being biased. Observe their body language, facial expressions, and emotions to help you understand the intent
  5. Spend time with yourself:
    1. Write a journal every day for 10-15 minutes.
    2. Assess how your day went at the end of the day. Good deeds, shortcomings, what could have been better? Etc.
    3. Identify your personality type. Are you optimistic or pessimist? Are you a people-charmer? Try 16personliaites for this; it’s exciting!
  6. Trust your instincts. They always push you to make the best decision that benefits you.

It can be hard to accept your limitations; in fact, most people remain in denial only. The more senior you are, the more difficult it gets to be honest about yourself with your team. 

To conclude

Being aware of your emotions, feelings, and thoughts helps you solve significant challenges in your personal and professional life. It makes you more accurate with clarity in your decisions, choices, goals, and aspirations. You develop a charismatic personality who people love and get along with quickly!

Self-awareness is a skill you can build with continuous practice. It is not a one-time thing to learn. As you grow, your surroundings change, you make new relationships, join a new job or start with new work; self-awareness also needs to be refined and strengthened.

The goal of self-awareness is self-acceptance – strengths & weaknesses!

Self-awareness is a critical element in your individual development. Contact me to learn ways you can grow individually and professionally through self-exploration!

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot is the owner of this blog. She has work experience of almost 10 years in the IT industry in varied roles. At present, she is working full-time on this blog. She is passionate about the importance of personal growth in individual and work life, which reflects in her writing too. Travelling, reading, and shopping are her core interest besides work.
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