Do you know yourself?

Yesterday we talked about maintaining self productivity in the workplace over time. We mentioned that part of the equation was dependent upon good self-awareness (in true blogging excellence I originally referred to it as “god” self-awareness which made a few readers wonder if I was developing a god complex: no, sometimes I just type too fast…).

Most of us can stand to improve our self-awareness. Its foolish – and potentially career-threatening – to wait for an annual review (or worse a critical incident) to get feedback from others about how you affect them. You need to seek that out.

But how to do so?

Try these:

  • Practice candor. Ed Catmull (Pixar/Disney) speaks about the power of candor vs. honesty. We all claim to honest, but its pretty hard sometimes. By practicing candor – a much less polarizing word – we encourage others to do so as well, as in, candidly telling you what they think about your ideas. Or you
  • Seek new interactions. With time our interactions with regular peers becomes a little predictable: its actually a tool the mind uses to help get us through our busy day. But we can miss things doing this as well. Meet new people – at work or in a social setting – and pay particular attention to how they respond to you. There’s a lot you can learn by examining how new people react to you. Find some new faces and pay attention
  • Check in with your boss. Seems odd but many of us avoid informal interactions with the boss. Don’t just wait for scheduled calls and meetings, find a reason to reach out periodically and give your boss license to critique you. Use the Start/Stop/Continue tool if need be to see what she wants you to be like going forward. It pays (no pun intended) to get your boss’ perspective
  • Study body-language. Its been estimated that up to 80% of communication is non-verbal so in all these interactions with teammates, new persons and your boss pay more attention to body language and tones. Its remarkable how much information can be gained just by watching posture, personal space, facial expressions and pauses. This information is there for the taking – watch how other people physically act around you (works on Skype as well)
  • Reflect and journal. The day is over and you’ve watched bodies, met with people and practiced candor: now what? Make some notes to yourself about your day. Journaling for just a few moments on some of your key interactions can pay dividends. You’ll find trends and themes and then be able to ask yourself if you like them, or if you’d like to change. Do this for several weeks before jumping to conclusions – behavior follows patterns over time

I know. At this point you may be saying, wow, this self-awareness thing is hard. Well, any new skill is hard until you master it, and let’s be clear, self-awareness is a skill. Its either well-honed or not, and if you choose, you can improve it.

There are other methods like testing and coaching that can increase your self-awareness too, but the simple steps outlined above can be employed right now wherever you are to gain more knowledge about yourself. And remember: an informed person is a powerful person.



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