By: Kathy Shalhoub
Have you ever wondered why some people are cut out for management and some aren’t? The answer is simple: those people are usually better managers. Why? Because they have an important essential quality that most good managers have: self-awareness.
Whether you’re managing your self or others, self-awareness translates into having a good relationship with your self first and foremost.
My mom, a business management consultant was giving a seminar about emotional intelligence and the role it plays in your success to a huge group of businesspeople. Her first question to them was: How many of you would benefit from having a better relationship with the people around you?
A few hands went up.
Then she asked: How many of you would benefit from having a better relationship with your selves?
ALL hands went up.
We all want to have better relationships and funnily enough, our relationships with other people are only as good as the relationship we have with our selves. We judge other people and we respond to them in a way that is directly related to how we feel about ourselves.
So how do we develop a better relationship with our selves?
There’s this cool little model called The Johari Window Model that I think is a pretty descent tool for increasing self-awareness, for personal and group development and for understanding relationships. The model is based on 4 windows that grow or shrink depending on who you are relating to and the quality of that relationship.
The four windows of the Johari Model are:
- The open self (Arena): This is the part of your self that you know about and are comfortable with, and that others know about and are comfortable with.
- The blind self (Blind Spot): This is the area where all the things others know about you but you don’t know or ignore about your self exist. This is your blind spot.
- The hidden self (Façade): This area is where you put everything that you know about yourself but no one else knows about you. Feelings, information, fears, secrets, hidden agendas, etc… all go here.
- The unknown self (Unknown): This area contains information, feelings, abilities, behaviors, and attitudes that neither you nor anyone else know about.
For today, I’m just going to focus on the ‘blind self’. To know what’s in your blind spot, you need to ask others for feedback. And by thinking about the feedback that you consistently get from people around you and opening yourself to the possibility that what they are saying may be true, you are increasing your self-awareness.
To increase your self-awareness, you must open yourself to criticism, not by taking it as a simple truth but by looking for patterns that recur and translating them into something meaningful to you. For example, I used to hear the critique ‘You’re too argumentative” ALL the time but I never agreed with it. “No I’m not! I’m just trying to get the facts straight.” But over time and age, I started to realize that if everyone thought I was too argumentative, then, ahem, perhaps I was?
The language we use in our self-talk is critical in how we take this feedback. Feedback is neutral and we can translate it into positive or negative meanings so it’s important that we consciously replace the words we use so that they feel constructive and not destructive. Instead of telling myself to stop arguing, I tell myself to listen more.
Second, you must understand the subtle difference between a reaction and a response. A reaction is simply that: an instinct taking over. A response is infinitely more emotionally intelligent, because you are taking a split second to make a decision: do I argue my point or do I try to be a better listener? Aha, now I have become aware of my behavior and can take a moment to change it, I have become self-aware!
Figuring out what’s in our blind spot is truly how we develop a better relationship with the person we call ‘me’.
Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.