Improve our self-awareness – Based on her research and coaching experiences, Andrea announces her personal goal for 2024: improving her self-awareness. Learn the distinction between consciousness, self-consciousness, and self-awareness. Andrea challenges listeners to diagnose their own internal and external self-awareness levels and commit to three specific goals for improvement in 2024, just like she did!
CONNECT WITH ANDREA & TALK ABOUT TALK
- Website: TalkAboutTalk.com
- Communication Coaching Newsletter: https://talkabouttalk.com/blog/#newsletter-signup
- Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@talkabouttalkyoutube/
- Ep.121 – Self-Awareness – https://www.talkabouttalk.com/121-self-awareness/
- Ep.96 – The 3 Point Body Language Scan – https://www.talkabouttalk.com/96-3pt-body-language-scan/
Happy new year! For me, a new calendar year is a blank slate. I’m optimistic about what’s ahead. I’m also big on goals. On looking back, assessing, and then looking forward with purpose and focus.
Based on all the research, the reading and the coaching I did over the past year, I decided that the area where I personally want to focus this year is SELF-AWARENESS. I encourage you to do the same.
After I challenged myself to come up with one, meta-level communication goal for myself for 2024, I decided to create an episode where I share with you exactly how I’m thinking about that goal and how I will make it happen. Again, my hope is that this will inspire you to do the same.
Most of us think we are SELF-AWARE. But research indicates that only 10-15% of us are technically considered highly SELF-AWARE.
Way back in episode 121. I shared a story about Ashley a high potential sr executive that I was coaching. We’re talking high potential for the CEO position. After coaching Ashley for several weeks, she told me that she was very excited because she had a moment, an awakening, in the middle of one of her team meetings, when she suddenly became aware of her thoughts, or her body language, and of how others were perceiving her. Basically she suddenly became aware of her own awareness. This made me very happy!
But I was also shocked, frankly, that she hadn’t consciously experienced that before. It was like an awakening that unlocked her communication effectiveness.
Since then, I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about self-awareness. For me, self-awareness belongs right up there with adopting a growth mindset in terms of the most important things we can focus on to improve our communication, our performance, and our life.
Yes, it’s that big.
Welcome to TAT episode 148 – where I’m going to share with you my communication goal for 2024, and how I’m going to achieve it. Spoiler alert – its all about self-awareness.
First, let me briefly introduce myself. My name is Dr. Andrea Wojnicki and I’m your executive communication coach. Please call me Andrea!
I’m the founder of Talk About Talk, where I coach communication skills to ambitious executives like you so I can help you elevate your communication, your confidence and your clarity, so you’ll get noticed and your career will soar!
That’s my goal here. I want to help you accelerate your career trajectory.
If you go to the Talk About Talk.com website, you’ll find many resources to help you out. There’s information there about one-on-one coaching, online courses, bootcamps which I run every few months, corporate workshops, the archive of this bi-weekly podcast, AND, I really hope you’ll sign up for the Talk About Talk newsletter. That newsletter is your chance to get free communication coaching from me every week.
OK – let’s talk self-awareness. I’m going to start by briefly defining of self-awareness and why its important. In other words why, with all of the other things I could be focusing on for 2024, why did I decide to focus on self-awareness?,
Then I’m going to share several very tactical ways that we all can improve your self-awareness. And at the end, I’m going to share with you the 3 things that I’m personally committing to boost my self-awareness. Of course it’s three things. It’s always three right?
The power of three. Some things never change.
OK definitions. What is self-awareness?
Many people confuse self-awareness with consciousness.
Consciousness is a more general term. To be conscious is to simply be aware. To be UNconscious, is to have no awareness. So when we’re conscious, we’re aware.
All sorts of animals can certainly be conscious. Your dog. That squirrel that ran across the street. But that doesn’t mean they have self-awareness.
Self-awareness, what we’re talking about here, is really about being conscious of our own consciousness. It’s a meta-awareness.
Simply put, Self-awareness is recognition of the self. It is one’s recognition of one’s own being, in terms of things like emotions, triggers, reactions, and the impact of those reactions.
This is different from self-consciousness. Usually people who are self-conscious are nervous. Self-consciousness is about a negative self-perception.
Did you get all that?
It’s not that complicated. Self awareness is being conscious of your SELF. Of course. It’s consciousness of your consciousness or meta-awareness, and that’s different from simple awareness or from self-consciousness.
We all have some degree of self-awareness. How would you rate yourself?
As I mentioned, most people say they have higher than average self awareness. But research shows that only 10-15% of us actually have high self-awareness.
As a communication coach, its easy for me to convince myself that I’m one of those 10% with high self awareness. But then every now and then I get some feedback, directly , or ore often indirectly, that shows me I have some work to do. Or I see myself on video and I think – YOWZA – you got some work to do girl!
That’s what inspired this resolution for myself and it’s also what inspired this episode.
Also – based on my work particularly over the past year, I’ve concluded that elevating your self-awareness is one of the areas where people get the most traction in terns of improving their communication skills and their performance in whatever they do.
And yes, this is backed by research. Self-awareness has a significant positive impact on us in several ways, including improving our confidence, our influence, our creativity, our ability to collaborate, our ability to regulate our emotions, and self-awareness decreases our stress levels and makes us happier.
Wow – count me in!
So let’s break it down. Let’s dig into the types of self-awareness.
First, there’s internal self-awareness, also referred to as private or INTROSPECTIVE self-awareness
Introspective self-awareness is about being conscious of your feelings, emotions, desires, beliefs and even your own body.
Its both mental and physical. It’s your mental consciousness, and also your Bodily self awareness – How are you feeling physically. This is being aware of your blood pressure, your physiological stress signals, your body language.
I sometimes get the tingles when I’m in coaching sessions with my clients. This is one way I experience internal self awareness. Honestly I love it when this happens. It often happens when I’m coaching someone on their personal brand and we end up articulating their unique superpower in a way that really resonates with them. It is so powerful. I feel the tingles. Like a spider is tunning up and down my arms. It’s a visceral, physical reaction.
That’s an extreme way of experiencing internal bodily self-awareness.
Let me share a few other examples of internal self awareness.
Let’s make this real.
Consider for example what you’re thinking and feeling when you notice yourself feeling anxious before an important meeting. Your brain might be shifting to imposter syndrome, and your body might be heating up., ready for fight flight or freeze. Noticing these things is internal self awareness.
Or another example – you might notice your apprehension about disagreeing with your boss when you know you’re right. Suddenly you’re conscious of your inner desire to blurt out your convictions. And you’re conscious of trying to appear in control. THAT is self-awareness.
Internal self awareness is really about being conscious of what you’re feeling – mentally & physically.
External self-awareness, on the other hand is more public.
This is about what’s going on in the social context, how am I being perceived, and what impact am I having on the dynamic?
There’s a phenomenon called the looking glass self that I often share with my clients to help illustrate external self awareness.
Imagine you are a third party, you have a camera and you’re looking down at the situation, watching the players in the room, including yourself, and noticing the impact that you’re having on others… This is a great exercise to make external self awareness more real.
If you’ve ever been criticized for showing a lack of self-awareness, it’s probably external or social self-awareness that was being referenced. It’s about how we are perceived by others, and what impact we have on the social dynamic.
This is an Interesting dynamic that I’ve noticed. Its this: when we evaluate our own self awareness, we tend to focus on our internal self awareness. When we evaluate others self-awareness, we focus on their external self-awareness
Over the past year, a few of my clients declared to me that they’re extremely self-aware. I quickly realized they are off the charts in terms of one type of self awareness, and lacking in another. It can be very productive for us all to diagnose our relative levels of internal and external self awareness. That way we can focus more on where we’re deficient.
I’ve shared the story before of a client I’ll call Betty. That’s not her real name. Betty was very bright and technically exceptional. She knew her stuff. She was high IQ, very creative, and very ambitious. But Betty was not well-liked. She told me that she’d received feedback that she was arrogant. I spoke with her manager, as I often do with my clients – I check in with 1-2 of their managers to make sure we’re focusing on the right things. Anyway, her boss confirmed to me that, yes, Betty does come across as arrogant. When I brought up the topic again with Betty, she argued and justified herself, telling me, and I quote, “I’m not arrogant. I am very self-aware.”
Betty is very high on internal self-awareness. She thinks about what she thinks about. But she’s low on external self-awareness. She focuses less on her impact in the social dynamic.
I shared this dynamic with Betty and she wholeheartedly agreed.
People like Betty with low external self awareness might come across as arrogant, or awkward. People with low external self awareness often have people whispering things like “Does she even know how she sounds?”
Is this YOU?
If not, ask yourself whether you might have high eternal self awareness but low internal who told me this definitely is that case for him. He told me that he is the youngest of many many siblings. I don’t remember how many exactly, but lots. Like 8 or something. As the baby of the family, he felt like an observer of all the dynamics (remember the looking glass self?) and he was very focused on how he fit into this crazy big family. He ended up being off the charts for external self awareness. However, as he confided to me, his internal self awareness is lacking. Id run him and his team through a personal branding workshop, where we were focusing on our professional identity. That’s when he had this epiphany. He had never taken the time to think about his own identity and he was very outwardly focused. He has a lot of work to do on his internal self-awareness.
If you met this guy, you would never guess. Actually, I was kind of excited for him. Like imagine you have this new awareness about yourself that can open up all sorts of opportunity and advantage for you.
So now I encourage you to ask yourself – where can I get the most traction?
Internal or external self-awareness?
Personally, I’m focusing on both. I can see opportunity for improvement in both internal and external self-awareness. Maybe slightly more in external.
So now what?
I’ve got several specific tasks, tactics, things you can do to boost your self-awareness. I’m going to share these suggestions for you now. Then I’m gonna reveal which 3 I’m personally working on in 2024.
For internal self-awareness, the general advice to up your self awareness is to be curious and focused on what you’re thinking and feeling. A great place to start is to journal. If you’ve never journaled before, it’s not a big deal. Grab a piece of paper, or a fancy new journal, whatever you like, and just start writing. Write about what you’re grateful for, what inspires you, and what stresses you out. Sometimes writing the words can make it real.
When you’re living your life, working and interacting with others, you can boost your self awareness by focusing and eliminating distractions. Be more focused. Less multi-tasking. One thing at a time. Turn off our phone. Focus. Listen to what others are saying, of course, but also listen to what’s going on in your own mind.
Here’s another suggestion. Be mindful of your goals or objective. Here’s a tactic that I know has helped many of my clients. Before every meeting, write down one business objective and one personal communication objective. Maybe write them in your notebook or on the agenda. During the meeting, be mindful of your communication objective. It could be a meta-objective, like being more empathetic, or of demonstrating your leadership, or being more confident. Or it could be an immediate term objective, like when you’re in a meeting with a client and your objective is to demonstrate your responsiveness to their concerns. Its about being mindful. What’s my communication goal here?
I love that tactic.
Here’s another one: Focus on your words. Three ways you can do t his. The first is PAUSING. As in pause a moment before any words come out of your mouth. This is a great one, especially when things are heated. I’ve been using this one and I have to tell you, it works. I’ve never regretted pausing. My best parenting moments are when I paused. Hmm.
The second way to focus on your words is to consider the valence of your verbal and your self talk – is it positive, neutral or negative?
Why is that?
Be curious. Be aware. And then make a shift if need be, perhaps to more positive verbal or internal self-talk.
The third suggestion in terms of your words is to focus on a mantra. If you’ve listened to the TAT episodes focus on confidence, you’ve probably heard me talk about mantras. They focus your mind. So maybe come up with a sentence or phrase that focuses your mind on what you WANT to focus on.
SO those are my suggestions for increasing your internal self awareness in terms of your mental focus. You could start journaling – write down your thoughts. You could eliminate distractions and focus. You could create a specific communication focused goal or objective for meetings and interactions. And you cold also focus on your words – by pausing your words, by considering the valence of your words, and by reciting the words of a mantra to focus your thoughts.
Now. What about physically, your bodily self awareness?
The obvious tactic here is to take note of your physical state. Your breathing, your body temperature, your body language.
This is like when I get the tingles when my clients have epiphanies, especially with regards to their personal brand. That visceral, physical reaction.
Your physical reaction to your environment can be positive or negative.
As the dancer Martha Graham says, “The Body never lies”
A simple way to check in with your physical state is to run through the 3-Point Body Language Scan:
The 3 points are Your Posture, your hands, and your eyes. Check in with all three of these things. Are you sitting or standing up straight or are you slouching? Why?
Are you expansive or making yourself small?
Are your hands hidden or are you using them to communicate?
Are you using jerky movements or slow purposeful movements ?
And for eyes, of course its about eye contact. Are your eyes shifting around or are you focusing on who’s talking?
There’s a lot more to this, which you can learn about in ep96. In the meantime though, when you’re aware of your body language, which I hope is more often than not, just think 3-point body language scan.
OK – moving on to external self awareness.
When it comes to social self-awareness, I have 4 suggestions for you here.
The first is generally being empathetic. Scanning the room, as they say, scanning others for how you are impacting them. Being other-oriented. Tuning in to others. Watching their body language, especially in their interactions with you. How are they responding to you?
The second is Listening. So tracking the ratio of you talking versus others talking, listening in a truly collaborative way.
And the third is asking for feedback!
This is a great way to improve our communication. As my friend Sharon Mah-Gin says, feedback is a gift!
Ask the people with whom you interact for feedback on how you can improve your communication.
The last suggestion for how to improve your external self awareness is to put that whole ‘looking glass self idea into action. Record yourself, then watch yourself, as an interested observer. My clients who have done this all rapidly accelerate their communication skill development. More so than just about any other exercise. Why?
Because you’re looking at yourself as a third party. You see yourself in action and you know what others see.
So those are my 4 suggestions for improving your external self awareness.
- Focus on being empathetic
- Listen keenly
- Ask for feedback
- Record and observe yourself.
And that’s it for the suggestions I have for you.
Here’s my challenge to myself – and to you, if you so choose:
Diagnose yourself in terms of your self awareness – your internal self awareness and your external self-awareness.
Personally, I think I need to work on both. What about you?
Then, once you’ve diagnosed yourself, identify 3 goals for yourself to improve your self-awareness – and your communication.
Personally, I’m going to do three things. Yes, of course three. And I’m conscious of the fact that I’m committing to this publicly, on this podcast. The research shows that therefore I’m more likely to be successful. So I’m publicly committing to three things:
- Writing down my communication goal for every meeting or significant interaction. To get me thinking at a meta level.
- Seeking more feedback from others – personally and professionally.
- Recording myself on video and watching myself. Whether it’s a LinkedIn Live or a an in person corporate workshop, I’m committing to recording and watching more of these.
Yes, these are things I recommend to my clients all the time. I know they work.
So – what three things are you gonna try?
If you need a summary of your options, the transcript for this episode is in the shownotes. You can find it on the tat.com website. Here are also links in the shownotes to several other podcast episodes that will supplement this one.
So – what did you think about this episode? Are you inspired? What are your communication goals for 2024?
I’d love to hear. Please leave me a voice message on the talkabouttalk.com website, or message me on LinkedIn.
And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave me a review on Apple or Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. And please share this episode with a friend who might also find it helpful.
I hope you have a fantastic 2024.
And I hope to talk soon.