The case of Emotional Intelligence
– Self-Awareness –
What is it?
Self awareness is an internal process. As D. Goleman says, it is “knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources and intuitions”. The “knowing” indicates your ability to describe your likes and dislikes, to notice your internal reactions, to observe your body response and how your behavior is received by others.
For example, as a global leader, you may demonstrate good self-awareness if:
– You know your strengths and weaknesses;
– You notice how your communication style may be more or less effective depending on the context and people (different country, different communication style!);
– You are conscious of what triggers your reactions in unfamiliar situations;
Being self-aware is about noticing what is happening, as you were watching a movie.
Important: awareness is the step before change. At this stage, you do not try to change anything, you simply acknowledge what is.
Awareness is the step that comes before change
So, how can you become more self-aware?
Here are 2 well researched and proven techniques. They have worked well for many of my clients so far. I hope they’ll work well also for you.
Keeping a journal can really help you become more self-aware. At first, it may fell like a waste of time and (why not) a bit uncomfortable, but with practice it may become a nice “escape”.
You can write freely about your day, or you can use guiding questions.
For example you could ask yourself: “From 1 to 10 (1 being terrible and 10 being fantastic), how was my day? What made it what it was? And what could have made it 1-2 points better?”
When journaling, a key part is to go back to what you wrote and reflect on that. Look for patterns (recurring thoughts, behaviors and emotions), for what you consistently like or dislike, for what makes you happy or sad, and for what gives you satisfaction or dissatisfaction. This is data about who you are.
Hint: your journal can be paper or paperless, you choose. Most of my clients prefer a paper notebook; they leave a notebook in a place where they can see it (e.g. bedside table) and that helps them establish this new routine.
During the day, you can practice self-awareness by simply taking the time to notice your behaviors.
For example: you want to become more aware of how you listen. You could do this by reflecting on conversations and by breaking these interactions in 3 parts: beginning – middle – end.
Beginning: notice your physical and emotional state before entering a conversation. Are you fresh, tired, curious, distracted? What are you thinking and feeling right now?
Middle: notice changes and shifts during the conversation. For example, you entered the conversation with curiosity, but now you are getting bored and distracted. What is going on? What turned your curiosity down? What are you thinking?
End: evaluate the conversation. What went well? What made you feel engaged? What distracted you? How did you feel overall? Evaluation will provide you with powerful insights on “how you listen” and “why you listen the way you listen”.
Once you know what your baseline is, you can start planning for improvements.
This is just an example; you can apply this same process to almost anything. Take a skill, a situation, a habit you want to become more aware of and remind yourself to Mental Scan several times a day.
Hint: we are our habits. The more you practice, the easier it will become to use the Mental scan. You will find yourself “scanning” in automatic and in just a few seconds.
“Without self-awareness we are as babies in the cradles”
– Virginia Woolf –
Choose your tool and become more self-aware! I am here to support you if you need me.