Often in the workplace, we do not always behave in a way that reflects who we think we are — or who we want to be. We act out of habit or emotion without reflecting on whether our behavior aligns with our values and goals because it is uncomfortable. However, to be successful personally and professionally — we must develop self-awareness. But what exactly is self-awareness, and why is it important?
What is self-awareness?
Self-awareness is the ability to look into yourself and understand how your actions, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions align with who you think you are or want to be. It is to objectively reflect on everything about your daily life and see yourself as you are without judgment or denial.
Self-awareness means knowing your feelings, and behaviors and how they affect you and others. You may not always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to things through self-awareness.
Why is self-awareness important
When you look into yourself and understand who you are — your strengths, weaknesses, biases, experiences, and what motivates you — you are in a much better position to control how others perceive you.
With self-awareness, you can work on your weaknesses and play to your strengths. Furthermore, knowing how you come across to others allows you to manage interactions with them more effectively.
Last, your good and bad feelings will enable you to regulate your emotions in healthy ways, so they do not impact your work performance.
Self-awareness is one of the most important skills you can have in the workplace. You cannot improve or change what you do not know about yourself. When you understand yourself, you can work towards becoming a better person and employee.
So, here are 12 examples of self-awareness:
1. Reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses
Reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses is a vital part of self-awareness. It allows you to identify your personal biases and blind spots, which in turn can help you become a better employee or person.
For example, if you know that you get defensive when criticized, you can work on developing a thicker skin so that you can accept constructive feedback more efficiently.
On the other hand, if you find it easy to come up with ideas but need help to follow through on them, you may want to get someone to help you with the implementation.
Ultimately, understanding your strengths and weaknesses can make you become a more well-rounded employee and impact your team’s performance positively.
2. Being truthful when evaluating your performance
One of the hallmarks of self-awareness is being brutally truthful with ourselves. It is easy to pat ourselves on the back when we do well, but it is much more challenging to be frank with ourselves when we do not perform up to our standards.
However, you must be honest about your abilities and shortcomings to improve yourself. Exaggerating your abilities only skews your perception of reality and holds you back, but it also prevents you from growing and learning.
You will never reach your full potential if you think you are already great at everything. And on the other hand, being too hard on yourself can lead to feelings of discouragement and low self-esteem — leading to self-defeating behavior.
To get better at anything, we need to be honest about where we stand and what needs improvement. So, be truthful when evaluating your performance, both good and bad.
It will allow you to focus on improving where you need it most — becoming a better person and reaching your full potential.
Read also: 15 Examples of Commitments
3. Keeping an open mind when receiving feedback
Keep an open mind when considering feedback from others, both positive and negative. It can be challenging to take constructive criticism or suggestions for change, but keeping an open mind will help you grow as an individual and improve your work performance.
Remember that people have opinions and are just that — opinions. They may not always be correct, but listening to them is essential.
Not only will this show that you’re humble and willing to learn, but it will also make you appear more receptive and understanding to others. And that is always a good thing in the workplace.
4. Taking a step back before responding negatively
Taking a step back before responding to challenging situations or people can help diffuse a difficult situation in the workplace. You may communicate more effectively with others by providing some introspection into what is motivating your reaction.
For example, if you are angry or frustrated, try to avoid taking it out on your coworkers. Instead, take some time to calm down and reassess the situation. It is much better to deal with anger constructively than lashing out at the people around you.
So, pausing to reflect can help you better understand yourself, your triggers, and your boundaries. Taking a step back can prevent knee-jerk reactions and promote thoughtful responses that are more likely to benefit all involved.
5. Seeing every situation from different perspectives
Take a step back and try to see every situation from different perspectives. If you are talking with someone and they constantly interrupt or talk over you.
It can be very frustrating when someone needs to pay attention or listen to what you are saying. But try to understand their perspective instead of getting angry or annoyed.
They may be excited about the topic and cannot wait to share their thoughts. Or, perhaps, they are nervous and want to talk fast to get their point across.
If you understand where the other person is coming from, it is much easier to converse with them. You will also not take things personally, which can help keep your mood positive.
So, try to see every situation from different perspectives and give people a second chance. You may be surprised at how much better your interactions will be when you show some consideration for others.
6. Accepting responsibility for your actions
One typical example of self-awareness in the workplace is taking responsibility for your actions (and mistakes). When something goes wrong, rather than trying to place the blame on someone else, take a step back and assess what you could have done differently.
If you are having trouble meeting a tight deadline, be honest with yourself and ask for help. And if you inadvertently snap at a coworker, apologize and take ownership of your actions.
Accepting responsibility is holding yourself accountable to make better choices in the future, which can lead to improved performance at work.
Ultimately, being self-aware is a sign of maturity and responsibility. It demonstrates that you are willing to take ownership of your actions (and mistakes) and learn from them accordingly.
Read also: 17 Examples of Authenticity
7. Listening more than you speak
Good examples of self-awareness in the workplace include understanding our communication habits, knowing when we need a break, and recognizing our limits.
Do you talk over others and sometimes jump to conclusions or make assumptions about others without getting all the information? You must be aware of your habits and mindful of how you communicate.
Too often, we focus on what we want to say instead of listening. If we are not dominating conversations, we interrupt others a lot.
We pretend to be listening, but actually, we are busy planning our response that we ignore what the other person is saying — we are not listening to understand.
We must be aware of our tone, body language, and speaking habits and adjust them so that we communicate well with others — and that means listening more than talking crap.
8. Noticing when you are judgmental
Another excellent example of self-awareness is recognizing when our opinions are too harsh or narrow. Judging someone else’s beliefs or choices is easy, but such an attitude can be harmful.
Not only can it stall the conversation, but also likely to put the other person on the defensive.
Being critical of someone’s opinion is one thing, but if we take it too far, our actions can cause unnecessary hurt and damage to those around us.
Sometimes our judgments are based on fear rather than facts. Fear often causes us to make assumptions about others that may not even be true.
In that situation, we have to check our beliefs and opinions. Ask yourself questions such as “What makes me think this way? Is my perspective based on facts or personal opinions? Do I have enough information available here to come to this conclusion? Is there another way I could interpret this situation?”
Make a conscious effort to become aware of your prejudices before unfairly prejudging others.
9. Being aware of personal biases
Another example of self-awareness is being mindful of our biases when faced with a difficult situation. We may act or think in specific ways due to past experiences, environmental influences, and cultural norms, which can lead to making unfair conclusions or assumptions.
Being mindful of these biases allows us to step back and evaluate the situation objectively before taking action.
Another example of self-awareness is aware of how our emotions affect how we perceive things around us. Also, when facing difficult situations, our emotions cloud our judgment.
Taking a moment to acknowledge these feelings and their potential impact on our decision-making processes dramatically increases our chances of making the best choice possible.
Self-awareness is essential to make fair and unbiased decisions in difficult situations. Being mindful of personal biases allows us to take a step back from our preconceptions and consider all aspects objectively before acting upon them, and prevent misjudgments.
10. Knowing when to take breaks
A key component of self-awareness is knowing when it is time for a break from work — whether taking a quick walk around the office or going out for lunch with colleagues. Regular breaks rejuvenate your mind and body, ensuring you perform best when needed.
Of course, there are times when it is essential to push yourself beyond your limits and achieve great things.
However, if you are always putting pressure on yourself to work without a break, you will eventually reach a point where you can no longer produce quality work. Finding a balance between pushing yourself and taking care of yourself is crucial.
Read more: 17 Examples of Personal Aspirations
11. Setting realistic expectations
Setting yourself realistic goals is another excellent example of self-awareness. When realistic about your abilities, you are less likely to set yourself up for failure and more likely to be successful. You manage your own expectations better, leading to a more positive outlook and motivation.
Part of being realistic is when you know your limitations. It would be best if you were honest about what you are capable of or not capable of. Trying to do too much or taking on tasks that are too difficult will only lead to frustration and failure.
Failing miserably at something that is beyond your capabilities is going to make you look incompetent. So, it is best to set realistic expectations for yourself and avoid taking on tasks that are too far outside your capabilities.
But be bold and challenge yourself from time to time. Just ensure that the challenges you take on are attainable.
Pushing yourself too hard can have the opposite effect of what you want and can lead to discouragement or a feeling of incompetence. So be mindful that what you take is something you can realistically achieve.
12. Understanding your values
Knowing your values is an example of self-awareness. Values are the principles that guide our actions, behaviors, and choices. They are the things that are important in our lives and worth striving for.
When we know our values, we use them to make decisions that reflect who we are and what is important to us. This can be helpful in the workplace, as it can help us make choices that align with our personal beliefs and goals.
For example, if one of your values is integrity, you may choose not to carry out a task requiring you to compromise your morals or ethics. Or if one of your values is teamwork, you might be more likely to volunteer for projects that involve collaboration with others.
One way to understand your values is to ask yourself what is important to you in life. What makes you happy? What do you care about most? What are your biggest passions?
Once you have a better idea of what is important to you, you can start looking for clues in your everyday behavior.
Self-awareness is key to success in both personal and professional life. When you look into yourself and get to know who you are, it becomes easier to be genuine with others.
Having an accurate view of yourself allows you to make informed decisions that lead toward success rather than failure because you know your feelings, thoughts, behavior, and beliefs. Becoming self-aware requires practice and dedication but with time comes great rewards.