Self-Awareness is the foundation of all the soft skills. Self-Awareness is to guide your behavior and taking the control of your life. ‘Self-Awareness’, the word itself says the meaning, that is knowing, understanding and accepting yourself, including your strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, thoughts, emotions etc.
Author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 Travis Bradberry says, “self-awareness is not about discovering deep, dark secrets or unconscious motivations, but, rather, it comes from developing a straightforward and honest understanding of what makes you tick. People high in self-awareness are remarkably clear in their understanding of what they do well, what motivates and satisfies them, and which people and situations push their buttons.”
The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations developed a framework for understanding self-awareness. They break it down into three competencies: emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment, and self-confidence.
Emotional Awareness: Emotional awareness means knowing when feelings are present in others and us. It is the ability to recognize your emotions and their effects. Emotional Awareness is the heart of the Emotional Intelligence. We can increase our emotional awareness through monitoring our emotions. We can live the happier and more fulfilling life if we are emotionally aware. We should be able to know how we are feeling at different situations of life should be aware what we enjoy the most and dislike the most, who we feel safe with and who we feel understood by!
When we say that we want to be successful in our life, we may consider it in terms of money, education, status, luxuries, property or other materialistic things, but it is sad to mention that it is unlikely we will actually be happy unless we are aware of our own feelings. When we become aware of our own feelings, we definitely find our own individual happiness, straight from the heart.
Self-assessment is the ability to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, and limits. In order to evaluate yourself, you must be open to candid feedback and continuous learning and self-development. You should be open to new perspectives. Self-assessment can happen in the moment (you can think, “Hey, I’m good at this!” or, “Oh, I’ve reached my limit of that!), but it’s best done when you set aside a time and place for self-reflection. While reflecting is often a solitary exercise, the more extroverted among us often gain insight when talking to a friend or mentor. Many times those close to us know us better than they know ourselves and asking them for insights can be quite illuminating. Both styles of reflection are equally useful and everyone should practice both. The payoff is perspective and ability to laugh at yourself, which is quite liberating!
Self-Confidence is a by-product of emotional awareness and accurate self-reflection. Many people project a false confidence that enables them to get certain things done, but this has its limits. True self-confidence reveals itself as sureness of self-worth and capabilities. Self-confident people have the power to try new things, accept challenges, and voice unpopular/unique views. They are decisive despite uncertainties and pressures. Self-confidence comes naturally when you are aware of the impact of your emotional landscape and own your strengths and weaknesses. For example, confidence allows you to say, “I’m sorry, but I’m not an expert in that, perhaps you should ask someone else advice.”
Hopefully you can see how even within the foundation of self-awareness, the three competencies build on each other. Once you have this solid foundation, it will be easy to master the rest of the soft skills. In the next post, I will discuss how you can demonstrate your soft skills in your resume and cover letter. In the meantime, check out these great resources on self-awareness:
They are all important, but when you are lacking self-awareness, it can really hold you back from picking up the other skills. The only way to genuinely understand your emotions so that you can manage them effectively is to spend enough time thinking through them to figure out where they come from and why they are there. Emotions always serve a purpose. Emotions always come from somewhere. They are reactions to the world around you. Many times emotions seem to arise out of thin air, and it is important to understand why something gets a reaction out of you. Self-awareness is not about discovering deep, dark secrets or unconscious motivations, but, rather, it comes from developing a straightforward and honest understanding of what makes you tick. People high in self-awareness are remarkably clear in their understanding of what they do well, what motivates and satisfies them, and which people and situations push their buttons.
To become self-aware, you need a great deal of high quality, objective feedback on your emotions and your behavior. If you have people in your life that can do this constructively, that is great. It is also highly unusual. That is never an easy conversation to have. There is a much easier way to get the feedback you need and that is through an emotional intelligence test. The Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book includes access to our Emotional Intelligence Appraisal test for this very purpose. The test gives you a clear picture of your emotional intelligence strengths and weaknesses, and this is something that you can do privately. Even though Talent Smart sells the test separately from the book for $40, we decided to include a passcode to the test with each copy because getting tested is essential to increasing your self-awareness and increasing your self-awareness is essential to increasing your emotional intelligence. We have to walk our talk on this one, even if it means giving readers a nice perk with the book.
Social awareness is a tough one for many people to increase because to be socially aware, you have to spot and understand people’s emotions while you’re right there in the middle of it — a contributing, yet astutely aware, participant in the interaction.
Listening and observing are the most important elements of social awareness. To listen well and accurately observe what is going on around you, you have to stop bad habits. You have to stop talking, stop the monologue that is running through your mind; stop anticipating the point the other person is about to make, and stop thinking ahead to what you are going to say next. It takes practice to really watch people as you interact with them, to get a good sense of what they are thinking and feeling.