Business psychology

Self awareness: Do you know what you’re doing?

- April 13, 2008 2 MIN READ

However self-aware you consider yourself to be, it’s surprisingly common to underestimate your effect on others. Here I discuss the importance of self awareness.

In any social situation, most of us are adept at receiving signals from those around us. Our inner voice gives commentary like:

“She seems cheerful”
“He got out of the wrong side of bed!”
“I wonder why she’s so distracted today?”

Why is it, then, that when we think of a companion’s inner voice commentary as it relates to us, we feel distinctly uncomfortable?

The reason, I think, is most of us prefer to interpret incoming signals than focus on what we’re emitting to others.

For many of us, the last thing we are aware of is our effect.

I often show naivety whenever I learn the impact of something I have said and done.

It still knocks me sideways when a reader of Flying Solo – How to go it alone in business says it gave them the courage to go solo.

Equally, I am dismayed when a friend tells me a teasing remark of mine caused them to give away a new t-shirt they had bought.

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While knowing how to interpret signals from others is a skill of fundamental importance, we must also be aware that others are constantly tuning in to what we say and do. Self awareness is therefore also an important skill to have.

Once we recognise this, we can take full responsibility for our behaviour and actions.

I recommend those looking to hone an awareness of their influence start by showing good manners. Saying sorry, thank you and giving credit where it’s due will help you to attract and generate the positive interactions everyone needs to feel good.

Do you have any self awareness tips to share? Or stories about how an off the cuff remark has had a profound effect on you? Post a comment and let us know.