Back to Basics: Being Self-Aware In The Workplace

Each of us are unique individuals filled with strengths, abilities, weaknesses, and flaws, all stitched together like a quirky quilt. It is that uniqueness that makes us all special, that differentiates us from others, and keeps the world interesting. With that being said, when working with other humans there are times that those quirky traits and differences can create conflict and pose challenges, which is why having a healthy amount of self-awareness is critical to professional success.

Being self-aware does not mean that you can't be your authentic self; it simply means that you take the time to be consciously aware of what makes you tick, triggers that you may have, and how you may be perceived by others - and being able to make adjustments when appropriate. Having this deeper insight about yourself with help propel you to greater success by strengthening your emotional intelligence and guiding your interactions with others to drive positive outcomes.

Acknowledging Your Deeper Motives

One of the hardest but most enlightening questions you can ask yourself is, "what is my motive?" We all have reasons and deeper motivations behind the things we do, and the first step to growth is taking the time to identify your motives. Motives, while we most often hear them in conjunction with crimes, aren't negative to the core - they are very simply the "why" behind your personal choice, and that motivation could be different for everyone.

Every choice you make, whether it is applying for that team leader position or whether or not you friend your co-workers on social media, has a reason behind it. Acknowledging your motives (positive, negative, or fear-driven) is the first step of self-awareness and will help you make the best possible choices that are geared to your personal goals. One other key to professional success and personal happiness is refraining from jumping to conclusions and assigning motives to others. Again, motives are deeply personal, therefore no matter the observations you have made or interactions you have had - you do not have all the information needed to make such a judgement call.

Being Aware Of Different Communication Styles

How you communicate with others is directly tied to your own personality and preferences, so unless you only work with people that share your same style of communication, it is important that you recognize that many different styles, and change your approach depending on your audience. Also, make a concerted effort to recognize your individual style and how it can come across to others - and whether or not it helps or hinders results and relationships.

From how you speak, to the phrasing you choose, to the body language you display - your communication style has a significant impact on how your message is received. The more effort you put into adjusting or mirroring the style of the recipient of the message, the more apt you are to achieve the intended result. If you experience a communication breakdown, stop. Take a moment to breathe, step back, read your audience's reaction, and adjust. It is a sign of strength to be able to take a moment to acknowledge the disconnect and re-engage with a different approach. You will find this strategy is effective in both in-person and digital communication.

Tempering Emotional Responses

Triggers. Ticks. Pet-Peeves. You have them, just like everyone else - and the guttural annoyance they create within you can sometimes manifest into a full-blown emotional response. Emotional responses, while natural, can create a professional challenge for you - so proactively taking steps to identify what sets you off, developing strategies to prevent any potential emotional outbursts that may display as anger, anxiety, crying, or inappropriate laughter, and recognizing how to address ongoing issues in a more formal way, will serve you well. What are situations that have a history of setting you off - last minute deadlines, getting interrupted, or excessive noise? When in a situation like that and you are nearing an emotional response, what warning signs is your body giving you (flushed cheeks, heart racing, nervousness, lip biting)?

By making note of the situations that trigger you and your body's signals, you can strategize ways to preempt an emotional response - such as a quick walk outside, putting on headphones when it is noisy, or creating a to-do list to keep you focused on the things you can control. Of course, if you are experiencing an issue that goes beyond an annoyance and is resulting in a hostile or troubled working environment, take the time to make note of the facts and bring it to the attention of leadership in a professional way.

Contributing to a Comfortable Work Environment

Unless you are a sole proprietor, you are likely an inhabitant of a delicate worksite eco-system. And, as a member of a shared workspace, it is important to be a positive contributor to your work environment. Be mindful about the cleanliness of your work area, the noise you emit from your space, your personal work habits, the smells you bring into the space - and how these things can impact others, so you can do your part to make things comfortable for all.

Being able to set boundaries for shared work environments is key to building successful relationships, eliminating petty squabbles, and driving productivity for all. Before you walk away from the running microwave and fill the office with the unrelenting smell of burnt popcorn, leave that half-full cup o' java at your desk over the weekend, or get the urge to angrily type that email reply while incessantly clicking your pen - pause and consider if you are contributing to a comfortable work environment.

Recognizing Your Level of Engagement

Are you checked-in or have you checked-out and just keep showing up every day? It is important, not only to your professional success but to your happiness as well, to ask yourself this question regularly. How engaged you are at work is a choice that you make. While there could be issues that lead to your being disengaged or checked-out, if you stay in that state of mind - you have made that choice. If you are checked-in, it doesn't mean that you blindly agree to everything that happens in the organization - it means that you care enough to succeed anyway, and actively look for opportunities to positively impact results. Being checked-in doesn't mean you don't have a bad day, it means that you are committed enough to put a bad day behind you. If you are checked-in, you make a personal choice to perform to the best of your ability - and that is key to long-term success. 

Now if you have found that you are simply checked-out, but still keep showing up anyway - you are not doing yourself any favors. Chances are your work days are dragging on like "The Long Night" episode of Game of Thrones - you were there, it felt really dark, things happened, but you aren't quite sure what those things were. If that is where you are professionally - it is time to make a change.

If you are ready to make a change, Manpower is here! Contact us to explore your options.