What is self-awareness?
Self-awareness is the ability to understand oneself – their thoughts, feelings, strengths, weaknesses. It is an important capability for leaders to develop as it allows them to assess their place in a team and in the workplace. Self-awareness is one of the key components of emotional intelligence (EI). In other words, it is all about knowing your emotions, your personal strengths and weaknesses, and having a strong sense of your own worth.
Emotional awareness is an ability to recognise your own emotions, and their effects. People who have this ability will:
•Know what emotions they are feeling at any given time, and why;
•Understand the links between their emotions and their thoughts and actions, including what they say;
•Understand how their feelings will therefore affect their performance; and
•Be guided in how they feel by their personal values.
Being aware of your own emotions, and how they affect your behaviour, is crucial to effective interaction with others. But it can also be crucial to your personal health and well-being.
Self-analysis or self-reflection
Self-reflection or self-analysis can be used to identify strengths to utilise, and weaknesses to develop. self-analysis is a vital skill to learn and develop for good emotional intelligence.
A good starting point is to be aware of your values, which can also be thought of as your personal ‘moral compass’. These values have an emotional value to us, which therefore means that many emotional responses come from some action or event that touches on those values.
If you are aware of your values, you can quickly see why you may have had a particularly emotional reaction to an event or person.
Understanding your own and others’ emotions also requires a good understanding of your personal strengths, weaknesses, inner resources and, perhaps most importantly, your limits. It can be particularly hard to admit to weaknesses and limits, especially if you are in a competitive and fast-moving work environment, but it is crucial for emotional intelligence and your own well-being. People who are good at self-assessment generally not only have a good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, they show a good sense of humour about themselves and their limitations. They are usually very reflective, learning from experience, and also open to feedback.
There are a number of different methods, techniques and tools which can be used to help you gain an understanding of yourself.
Developing your self-awareness
Though it may not necessarily be the first capability that comes to mind, developing your self-awareness can have a great impact on both your personal and professional development, and thus should not be neglected.
There are a number of different leadership capabilities and behaviours which can be improved significantly by a stronger sense of self-awareness, including:
1. Understanding the emotions of ourselves and others (emotional intelligence)
2. Communicating effectively with team members and other peers
3. Resolving conflict and friction in the workplace
4. Management of operational processes and tasks
5. Improving self-motivation by identifying and isolating tasks that inspire us
6 Choosing career paths and identifying the best opportunities
The first step towards improving self-awareness generally begins with tests and techniques that help us to examine and elucidate aspects of our character, feelings, motivations and qualities, helping us access information which was previously invisible to ourselves.
It can be very hard to admit to weaknesses, and many people may well be in a state of denial that they have any. Especially for those in senior positions, it can also be hard to get genuine, constructive feedback. This results in ‘blind spots’, problem areas which are completely invisible to the person concerned.
Common ‘blind spots’ include:
•Setting unrealistic goals for oneself or the organisation, and having unrealistic ideas of how easily tasks could be accomplished;
•‘Blind ambition’, where the person has to be ‘right’ at all times; and
•Relentless hard work, working long hours, and being at risk of burnout as a result.
These blind spots can make people very resistant to feedback, which makes it even harder to overcome the problem.
The solution? Get into a habit of seeking regular and honest feedback from those around you – and then act on it.
Now let us discuss the Johari Window for Self-Awareness
Understanding the Johari Window model
A Johari window is a psychological tool created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955. It’s a simple and useful tool for understanding and training:
•team development; and
•inter group relationships
It is one of the few tools out there that has an emphasis on “soft skills” such as behaviour, empathy, co-operation, inter group development and interpersonal development. It’s a great model to use because of its simplicity and also because it can be applied in a variety of situations and environments.
1. The Public Self/Open
The Public Self is the part of ourselves that we are happy to share with others and discuss openly. Thus you and I both see and can talk openly about this ‘me’ and gain a common view of who I am in this element.
The public self – what is known by the person about himself and is also known by others.
The aim should always be to develop the ‘open area’ for every person, because when we work in this area with others we are at our most effective and productive, and the group is at its most productive too. The public self can be seen as the space where good communications and cooperation occur, free from distractions, mistrust, confusion, conflict and misunderstanding.
2. Private Self
There are often parts of our selves that are too private to share with others. We hide these away and refuse to discuss them with other people or even expose them in any way.
Private elements may be embarrassing or shameful in some way. They may also be fearful or seek to avoid being discussed for reasons of vulnerability. Between the public and private selves, there are partly private, partly public aspects of our selves that we are prepared to share only with trusted others.
3. The Blind Self
We often assume that the public and private selves are all that we are. However, the views that others have of us may be different from those we have of ourselves. For example a person who considers themself as intelligent may be viewed as an arrogant and socially ignorant by others.
Our blind selves may remain blind because others will not discuss this part of us for a range of reasons. Perhaps they realize that we would be unable to accept what they see. Perhaps they have tried to discuss this and we have been so blind that we assume their views are invalid. They may also withhold this information as it gives them power over us.
4. The Undiscovered Self
Finally, the fourth self is one which neither us or nor other people see. This undiscovered self may include both good and bad things that may remain forever undiscovered or may one day be discovered, entering the private, blind or maybe even public selves.
Between the Blind and Undiscovered selves are partly hidden selves that only some people see. Psychologists and those who are more empathic, for example, may well see more than the average person.
We can define four different personas, based on which ‘self’ is the largest for each individual. If you use Microsoft Windows, you might want to think of having four windows open on the monitor at the same time. These panes of the windows can either expand or contract.
Let us also analyze the Johari Window for Self-Awareness this way:
1. Open Area – what is known by the person about himself and is also known by others. Traits and behaviors that both yourself and others are aware of. It includes anything about yourself that you are willing to share. This area drives clarity and builds trust.
The aim should always be to develop the ‘open area’ for every person, because when we work in this area with others we are at our most effective and productive, and the group is at its most productive too. The open area can be seen as the space where good communications and cooperation occur, free from distractions, mistrust, confusion, conflict and misunderstanding.
2. Blind Area – what is unknown by the person about himself but which others know. What others perceive, but you don’t. Important to note: not valuing your strengths can also be a blind spot. Feedback from others can make you more aware of your negative traits but also of the positive ones you are not appreciating.
This blind area is not an effective or productive space to be in. This blind area could also be referred to as ignorance about oneself, or issues in which one is deluded. It’s the broccoli in your teeth. A blind area could also include issues that others are deliberately withholding from a person.
3. Hidden Area – what the person knows about himself that others do not know. Aspects about yourself that you are aware of but might not want others to know. It can also include traits that you are not sharing with others without you being aware of.
The hidden area could also include sensitivities, fears, hidden agendas, manipulative intentions, secrets – anything that a person knows but does not reveal, for whatever reason. This might come from walls of self-preservation. People are asking themselves: Is there anything to hide? to prove? afraid of losing?
When you actively engage in disclosure, you tell others how you feel and other information about yourselfwhich will reduce the hidden area. This will increase the open area which enables better cooperation, trust, and team-working effectiveness.
4. Unknown Area – what is unknown by the person about yourself and is also unknown by others. What’s unknown to both you and anyone else.
Large unknown areas would typically be expected in younger people, and people who lack experience or self-belief.
Here are examples of unknown factors:
an ability that is under-estimated or un-tried through lack of opportunity, encouragement, confidence or training
a natural ability or aptitude that a person doesn’t realize they possess
a fear or aversion that a person does not know they have
conditioned behavior or attitudes from childhood
The Johari Window tool is ideal for increasing self-awareness. It focuses on understanding what’s visible (or not) to us and others.
Using the following link https://kevan.org/johari choose 5 adjectives that best describe yourself. Be objective and honest.
Fill In the Johari Window Panes
Where an adjective appears on both lists, place it in the Arena Quadrant.
•If an adjective appears on the individual’s list, but not on the group’s, place it in the Mask Quadrant.
•When an adjective appears on the group’s list, but not on the individual’s, put it in the Blind Spots quadrant.
•Any adjective that appeared on neither list can go in the Unconscious Quadrant.
•What can you do to reduce your Blind Spot and/or Facade, and move those traits into your Arena instead?
•How easy or difficult was it to select the adjectives to describe yourself?