Self-Awareness and its influences – Part Two
In my last post I talked about how my self-awareness helped me be more engaged at my work. Today, I’d like to take self-awareness to the next level. Some of the questions I asked myself once I realized this “self-awareness” were: now that I have self-awareness, what’s next? What does it really mean to have self-awareness? And most importantly, should I act/talk differently? How do I project this confidence I gained without being arrogant?
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, self- awareness is defined as: knowledge and awareness of your own personality or character. By definition, self-awareness is a good and positive thing to have. However, it’s what you elect to do with your self-awareness that makes the outcome good or bad. What I mean by outcome is how you act and interact with others and how people perceive you.
I remember the first time I realized how others perceived me. One of my colleagues used to chat with me about personal matters and we would be laughing and exchanging different experiences without any issues. However, any time I asked her a work related question, she would tense up and pretend to be busy to avoid answering my question. I found that to be very odd. After taking the StregthsFinder 2.0 personality test, one of the things mentioned seemed to align with my colleague’s situation. I decided to get my manager’s feedback on this specific situation.
I walked into his office and said: “How do I come across to you?” He was puzzled and asked for some explanation. I said: “When I need some information regarding a project from you or others, how do I come across? Am I nice asking about it? Am I mean?” He smiled and said: “You are assertive. When you want something from me, for example, you walk in asking for it and you don’t go away until you get what you came for.”
WOW! That was NOT what I expected. However, this is an aspect of my execution strengths that I discovered in my self-awareness. I remember another situation where another colleague told me: “Every time you come asking me for something you expect me to drop everything I do while you stand there waiting on me to take care of your needs. I can’t do that all the time, I’m getting old and can’t remember where I stopped in the task I was working on.”
Now this is the only colleague who spoke up and told me exactly what she didn’t like about our interaction. Ever since those two situations, I learned how to adjust my asking. It wasn’t easy to change and it took some practice to get it “right”.
The fact that I now know I’m assertive and others take me seriously when I ask for something doesn’t mean I should expect things done at the moment I ask for them. It’s a tool that I can use when the situation requires it. You see, self-awareness is NOT selfishness or doing what’s right for me only. It’s this awareness of how I come across to others so I can change my behavior according to the situation I’m in.
Self-awareness is a great tool to strengthen relationships and for being a more effective team member. If I didn’t stop to ask my manager about how others perceived me and if my colleague didn’t speak up about what bothered her, I wouldn’t have realized that my “simple” question about something and waiting for what I thought was a quick response are hindering my working relationships. I’m thankful for those experiences as they have enabled me to see how my strengths can also serve as a weakness unless I practice my self-awareness to make the “right” decision for a given situation.
Quran: And be not like those who forsook Allah, so He made them forsake their own souls: these it is that are the transgressors. (Surah Al Hashr 59:19)
Do you have self-awareness? If you do, how are you using it to help yourself and those around you? If not, what are you waiting for?
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