Examples to gain self-awareness

Here are a few questions and possible exercises that can help you become more aware of yourself and of others.

  • When speaking with others, do they ever take a step back from you?  This could indicate that they are protecting their personal space. Respect their need for space and refrain from stepping in toward them.  If interacting with someone of a higher rank, stepping into their personal space could prevent you from getting the next assignment or role.

  • How positive are your thoughts?  Pay attention to the line of dialog that plays in your mind when you are not speaking. Consider keeping a notebook beside you to write your dialog down on paper.  Then read through it.  What is the content of the ongoing dialog you carry with yourself?  If your thoughts lean more negative than positive, it could be possible that others at work and in your personal life perceive you as critical or negative?  What ways can you create solutions to the thoughts running in your mind?

  • Do you feel or believe that you are always right and others are wrong?  Or that the ideas of others are not as good as yours?  If this is the case, others may see you as uncooperative and difficult to work with.  Consider the reasons that you are unwilling to consider the ideas and solutions of others.  The next time the opportunity arises, allow yourself to entertain ways that the ideas of others could work.  Then share your thoughts with them.

Their villainy and my virtue

“As long as we maintain a picture of others’ villainy and our own virtue, we feel morally justified in our anger or frustration.” - Joseph Grenny, Vital Smarts

I read this quote as part of a response from Joseph Grenny to a reader about a specific situation in that reader’s life.  I stopped and re-read it because the truth of this statement has depth and extension into a myriad of life’s interactions with other people. 

  • How do you view those with political views different from yours? How do you speak about them?

  • What about those who have different religious views from you?

  • How do you see people who grew up in different parts of your country? World?

  • How do you view those who are really wealthy? Those who are in poverty?

  • What do you believe about the person who just cut you off in traffic?

  • What do you think about the person at work who doesn’t do what you expect or who seems to be guarding their turf?

The answers contain stories that you may have begun to believe. That belief will help you feel justified.  It may also keep you feeling tense and angry, giving the situation unnecessary energy and power that keeps you from living with contentment and peace. It may rob you of humor and joy. 

Are there any of your stories that might be worth re-examining?

Walking into a meeting or a battle

Have you ever walked into a meeting & realized after a few minutes that what you really walked into was a political battle?  The other person brought their proverbial swords and chainmail. You brought a notebook or laptop for notes.

Political battles are incredibly frequent in many organizational cultures.  It is difficult to give a single recommendation on the approach to take in these situations because each is unique.  However, remember to remain calm, ask questions, and if needed, respectively end the meeting with an agreed follow up.  That will give your time to reflect and ask for more clarity.  

Eagerness or disregard

Recently I participated in a discussion with someone who kept interrupting me. At first the interruptions seemed like eagerness. The more it was done, I found myself getting both irritated by it and curious about the reason they were doing so.  It would be easy to make presumptions about their reasoning for doing so, however, that would also be unproductive.  Nonetheless, the constant interruptions felt like disregard.

In this particular situation, what I realized is that they may have perceived that my motives were not sincere.  Taking the time to explain my motives and intentions did deviate from the agenda. However, doing so helped us to achieve the goal.

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel disregarded, take a moment to reflect on the bigger picture and consider what the other person may be perceiving.  Then ask them questions about what you perceive.  It may result in a much more collaborative solution.

Severing integrity

One of the topics that I train teams and organizations on digs into some very specific ways to use techniques that de-escalate issues and decrease the duration of an issue.  

When I speak on this, I like to show “skills” or “techniques” that increase the duration of an issue, increase intensity, and increase the number of people involved.  These are known to damage or sever relationships when used consistently.  

  • Winning at all costs

  • Displaying anger

  • Demeaning others

  • Retaliating

  • Avoiding

  • Yielding

  • Hiding emotions

  • Self-criticizing

One of the hardest things to do is to hear a perspective that you disagree with at your core.  To acknowledge that even while disagreeing with someone who you may not even like, that they have made a valid point.  To acknowledge that our own experience creates a bias and a blind spot and that makes us angry.  

Injustice should make us angry.  Trading injustices should also make us angry.  We sever integrity and respect when we employ or cheer the very actions we previously lambasted.