What Is Self-Awareness? (And How To Become More Self-Aware)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

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Self-awareness is a trait that helps you become more conscious of your feelings, strengths and weaknesses. Cultivating this skill set can help you evaluate yourself, manage your emotions, align your behaviour with values and understand your self-worth. Increasing your self-awareness is essential to improving your workplace productivity and relationship with others. In this article, we answer “What is self-awareness?” explore its importance and benefits, understand the steps to become self-aware and discover examples of self-awareness in a job interview, at a new job and during a performance review.

What is self-awareness?

Knowing the answer to the question, “What is self-awareness?” can help you excel in the workplace. Self-awareness is your ability to focus on how your actions, emotions and strengths align with your mental and emotional state. Being self-aware helps in understanding that your perception of yourself might differ from how others see or perceive you. It helps you make an informed decision to improve your life. When you are self-aware, you can:

  • recognise your strengths and weaknesses

  • recognise your needs and feelings

  • understand how your behaviour affects others

  • develop a growth mindset and learn from your mistakes

  • know the feelings of others

Using self-awareness, you can understand your challenges and strengths and know what can help you thrive in a competitive work environment. This self-assessment makes an in-depth assessment and analysis of your surroundings. For instance, you might know that you enjoy playing mobile games during your lunch break, but self-awareness helps you know the specific reason for this. You might realise that you like playing games to destress yourself or spend time away from the workspace. Self-awareness allows you to spend more time and effort understanding yourself better.

Related: How To Practise Self-Discipline In The Workplace

Importance of self-awareness

Self-awareness is important because it helps in your personal and professional life. When you know your capabilities, you can reduce your weakness and enhance your strengths. It can help you set achievable organisational goals and create strategies to achieve them. Using this trait, you can understand the feelings of others and develop healthier and more meaningful workplace relationships.

Using self-awareness, you can measure how much you know yourself and how far you might go to understand your traits, skills and behaviour. You can even analyse the effect your thoughts, skill and feelings have on others in your professional and personal life. This helps in achieving higher job satisfaction. It can also identify what you like about a role, how you can build a successful career and ways that can keep you motivated at the workplace.

Benefits of being self-aware

Here are a few benefits of being self-aware:

  • Ensures empathy toward others: When you are self-aware, you are more empathetic. This can help you build long-term relationships.

  • Improves critical thinking skills: To become self-aware, reflect on yourself and your actions. You do this by conducting in-depth analysis, which can improve your critical thinking skills.

  • Improves leadership skills: Self-awareness in leadership is understanding how your personality, habits and traits affect your interaction with others. Self-awareness leads to personal growth and control that can help you improve your leadership capabilities.

  • Provides more self-control: Being self-aware allows you to understand your emotions but not react to them. This can help you calmly respond to workplace situations because, instead of getting angry, you demonstrate more self-control.

  • Increases creativity: Self-awareness can increase your creativity and help you find creative solutions to workplace problems.

  • Increases adaptability: Being self-aware can help you become adaptable because you have experience implementing changes in your behaviour and traits.

  • Ensures higher self-esteem: Another benefit of being self-aware is higher self-esteem and confidence. When developing self-awareness, you realise you can learn from your failures and increase your confidence.

Related: Adaptability: An Essential Skill For Changing Workplaces

How to increase your self-awareness

To increase your self-awareness, follow these steps:

1. Search for people who can help you

Search for a friend, colleague, former manager or family member who is ready to work with you as a mentor and help you increase self-awareness. Focus on choosing someone who can offer constructive, thoughtful and honest feedback about your thoughts and actions. The viewpoint of a mentor can help you see yourself from a different perspective. As these mentors know you well, they can provide constructive feedback to help you become self-aware. Ensure to meet your mentor periodically to measure your progress.

2. Accept constructive criticism and be open to feedback

Listening and accepting feedback and constructive criticism is a great way to increase self-awareness. So, receive feedback from your mentors and apply them in your daily activities. Actively listening to someone else's perspective can give you deeper insights into areas of improvement. When you are open to receiving feedback, you can conduct an in-depth and comprehensive assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Also, to increase your self-awareness, avoid getting defensive because your opinion might differ from your mentor's opinion.

Related: 20 Examples Of Feedback In The Workplace (With Examples)

3. Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is paying attention to what is happening at the moment and being aware of your surroundings. Practising mindfulness enhances your ability to decrease stress, regulate emotions and address anxiety. Regularly practising mindfulness increases your focus and allows you to adjust your thoughts and thinking without a personal bias. Practising mindfulness is essential for increasing self-awareness because it can enhance job performance and increase your ability to overcome adverse situations.

Related: Performance Improvement Plan: Benefits, Process And Examples

4. Know your strengths and weaknesses

To increase self-awareness, identifying your strengths and weaknesses is essential. When you know your weaknesses, you can work toward addressing them. Improving your weaknesses and enhancing your strengths is an essential aspect of self-awareness. When you are aware of your capabilities, you can better explain the emotional reactions of the past. While it might be challenging to accept your limits, it helps you improve yourself, develop self-awareness and increase your emotional intelligence. This exercise ensures that you excel in the fast-paced competitive work environment.

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths And Weaknesses?"

5. Conduct self-assessment

You cannot develop and increase self-awareness in a day because it is an ongoing process. For becoming self-aware, making consistent efforts is essential. Conducting regular self-assessment helps in analysing areas where you excel and where you can grow. When conducting a self-assessment, consider your mentor's feedback to track your progress. While assessing yourself, take notes on your thoughts and feelings. Making notes of your progress helps you understand the elements for your growth and improvement. You can even conduct a self-assessment using personality and aptitude tests.

6. Ask for feedback at work

Apart from consulting friends or family members, focus on using a formal process to get feedback. Formalised feedback allows you to self-reflect on your weaknesses and strengths. Focus on writing strengths and weaknesses that you did not realise you had before. This helps you become more self-aware of your capabilities. After you receive feedback, write the main takeaways.

Examples of self-awareness

Here are a few examples of self-awareness that help you understand its importance and how it applies to the workplace:

Self-awareness in a job interview

You can impress your potential employer by exhibiting self-awareness during a job interview. Usually, employers ask about your weaknesses to assess your self-awareness. Here are some tips for expressing your self-awareness during an interview:

  • openly talk about your weaknesses

  • tell your employers about specific tasks on which you may require help or support

  • balance your information by giving details about your strengths and areas where you can improve and learn

  • clearly explain how you plan to improve your skills and capabilities

Self-awareness at a new job

Showing self-awareness at a new job helps you establish this skill as your core competency. Your colleagues and managers are likely to rely on your skill set for reliable assessment. Here are some tips for expressing your self-awareness at a new job:

  • seek help when you are unaware of a term or process

  • ask for coaching and training when you need it

  • focus on your strengths and suggest areas of improvements

  • assess your core competencies to know where you can fit in the team

Self-awareness during a work evaluation

Performance reviews, work evaluations and appraisals can provide opportunities to increase your awareness. The evaluation and performance meetings provide information to increase your self-awareness. Here are some tips for expressing your self-awareness during a work evaluation:

  • admit your weaknesses and seek advice on ways to overcome your weakness

  • evaluate your core strengths and support them with facts such as performance statistics

  • request training and get access to new tools to facilitate professional growth

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