Self-awareness is the ability to recognize moods, emotions, and drivers of our behavior and understand their impact on others and your job performance. People with strong self-awareness not only are able to identify their feelings but also understand why those feelings occur. They are also aware of their strengths and weaknesses and are not afraid to talk about them. They often have a self-depreciating sense of humor about themselves and welcome constructive criticism. That awareness also helps them avoid setting themselves for failures due to overpromising or overstretching on tasks.
- When you get in stressful situations start paying closer attention to the physical changes in your body. Those changes may be faster breathing, elevated blood pressure or sweaty palms
- Learn how to recognize your feelings: Start tracking your feelings by writing them down when you experiencing them in different, particularly stressful situations
- Create your list of strengths and weaknesses
- Think of people who you feel comfortable with and ask them to provide you their feedback. Ask them how they would describe your behavior under different circumstances, particularly during stress, and what they see as your strengths and weaknesses. Compare this list to your own and determine the areas for improvement
- If you don’t work well under tight deadlines, start working on careful time planning. Don’t be afraid to let your colleagues know why
- If you are facing a situation when you have to work with a demanding customer or partner, prepare in advance. Think how the interaction may develop, how your feelings may get impacted and identify the reasons that may make you feel frustrated. As you work with the customer, keep this in the back of your mind. This will help you turn your anger into something more constructive if all of a sudden you find yourself becoming angry
- Try to take only calculated – not just any –risks at work. Try to anticipate ‘worse’ outcomes and prepare a contingency plan. If you do fall behind on the project and the deadline is under threat, don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you are building your team and are looking for candidates with self-awareness, during an interview ask them to describe a situation when they got caught up in the emotions and did something they later regretted. Observe how they describe these experiences. Candidates with self-awareness will be frank and admit to the failure, often talking about it with a smile. Those who with lack of one, on the other hand, will feel uncomfortable and defensive.
Similarly, during performance evaluations, self-aware employees would neither be overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. They would be comfortable talking their limitations and honest about it. Those with low self-awareness, on the other hand, will interpret the feedback about improvement as a threat or an indication of failure.