We will never be able to fully understand everything that makes us who we are, but there are things we can do each day to make us a little more self-aware. High self-awareness can help you make the right choices, form more successful relationships, and make better decisions. It's about understanding your behaviors, needs, traits, desires, feelings, failings, habits, and everything else that influences who you are.
Self-Awareness is an essential competency in helping to reduce the effect of workplace politics, and once you have a decent grasp on it, you can transition into self-management.
Self-management is all about controlling your reactions. Of course, things outside our control happen all the time, but how we react is always in our power. The easiest way to strengthen your self-management skills is by practicing reflection.
Reflection involves intentionally describing, analyzing, and evaluating our thoughts and actions. While many professionals are great at applying knowledge and thinking on their feet, not as many reflect on their actions. But it is through a reflective process that we can incorporate our knowledge into our everyday work. These additional skills then allow us to better deal with our day-to-day activities. Heightened situational awareness will enable you to modify your automatic behaviors when presented with various workplace situations.
A great way to add reflection to your work practice is by keeping a Reflective Diary. Reflective work diaries describe particular events from your work experiences and your reaction to these events. These events should be recorded as soon as possible after it occurs but can be reflected upon later. This kind of reflective process can describe and evaluate critical events in your work and help evaluate recurring themes or habits and develop an action plan.
Don't know where to start? An easy method for reflection is the Gibbs Cycle of Reflective Thought. With this, you ask yourself a series of questions:
What were you thinking and feeling?
What was good and bad about it?
How can you make sense of it?
What alternatives did you have?
What would you do if it happened again?
Then you have awareness of social situations, which is just as valid as self-awareness. Being socially aware means you carefully consider what people want and work to interact with them to meet that need. Typically, three areas fall under the Social Awareness umbrella: empathy, organizational awareness, and service awareness.
Ever been told to walk a mile in someone else's shoes? Empathy allows us to put ourselves in somebody else's situation to understand some of what they feel so we can be more responsive to their needs. Acceptance, respect for diversity, and sensitivity to an individual's emotions are core to practicing empathy. Other essential steps in being an empathetic person include:
Take out your earbuds, put down your smartphone, look away from your computer screen, and truly listen to and observe what your co-workers are saying and doing. Don't forget to make eye contact!
Open up and discuss why you empathize with the person to try and connect. Remember that empathy is not the same as sympathy, and you must create an emotional bond with this person.
Keep the focus off of yourself. Sharing personal experience helps build a connection, but be careful this doesn't turn the conversation into something about you.
Offer help but not judgment. Sometimes people just need a safe amount of time and encouragement to make the right decision for themselves! Being silent and listening is just as crucial as offering advice. It's also vital not to dictate what they should do to the person.
Organizational Awareness skills allow you to navigate the sometimes complicated path of formal and informal hierarchies. You'll know how to act and react appropriately with adequate knowledge of the company culture, orders, goals, mission, strategic plans, current trends and issues, and job roles within the company.
Like Organizational Awareness, Service Awareness is important in ensuring good relationships and meeting customers' needs. The organization's capabilities, capacities, and constraints are also helpful to be aware of in Service Awareness. Try to know the technical experts who can respond to various customer requests and inquiries.
It can seem daunting at first, but the more you know about yourself and the environment in which you work, the better you can adapt to various situations.