Examples of Self-Awareness in the Workplace (With Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 18 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself, your actions, your thoughts and your emotions and see how they align with your standards. Individuals possessing high self-awareness can objectively evaluate their emotions, allowing them to improve their workplace relations and increase their productivity. Cultivating good self-awareness at work can help you to interact better with colleagues and supervisors, creating a more harmonious environment. In this article, we define what self-awareness is, list its key benefits and show how to develop it in the workplace.

What is self-awareness?

Being able to focus on the positives and understand emotional triggers are some examples of self-awareness in everyday life. Often, external factors you cannot control can determine your mood, and one thing that self-awareness can help you control is how you perceive your own life. This typically requires you to interpret both mental and emotional states. In general, there are two types of self-awareness, public and private:

  • Public self-awareness: Public self-awareness is the ability to be aware of how you appear to others. This characteristic allows you to adhere to social norms and behave in socially acceptable ways.

  • Private self-awareness: Private self-awareness is the ability to reflect on or notice your internal state of mind. Individuals exhibiting private self-awareness can practise self-reflection and develop an awareness of their feelings and reactions.

Examples of self-awareness

Here are examples of self-awareness and how it can apply to your work:

Self-awareness in a job interview

Interviewers can ask you for examples of self-awareness to see how well you understand your abilities. An interviewer may ask about your weaknesses and how you'd improve on these. Many people have areas that may benefit from improvement, and showing that you're aware of these and have a plan to develop them can set you apart from other applicants. Here's an example:

Dylan is at an interview where the employer asks about his weaknesses. He replies that his greatest weakness is that he sometimes concentrates too much on the finer details of a project. He's working to improve this by focusing his attention on longer-term goals and delegating tasks to teammates so he can work on more important areas. Working this way helps Dylan ensure that he maintains the quality of his work while still being able to deliver projects that meet deadlines.

Related: 10 Interview Hacks to Help You Prepare for a Job Interview

Self-awareness in your job

To succeed in your role and advance in your career, it may benefit you to work on your self-awareness in the workplace. Being self-aware can help both you and your team to thrive, as your colleagues may be more aware of your capabilities and work methods. To demonstrate self-awareness at work, be open with your manager about what you think you can improve on and self-evaluate your talents based on shared insights with team members and other colleagues. Here's an example:

Tom struggles with completing management reports on time and notices a sizeable gap in the quality of work between his colleagues and himself. The reason for this is that he's never had to write these types of reports before and is struggling to understand how to structure and develop the narrative.

On noticing this, Tom meets with his manager to try to gain some insight and tips on how to write and portray the information better. His manager suggests a mentorship program that allows Tom to improve his writing skills for reports and other company documents. This helps to greatly improve his performance in this area.

Related: How to Improve Observation Skills in the Workplace

Self-awareness in performance feedback

Performance reviews use self-awareness questions to help the organisation evaluate the alignment between a company's objectives and an employee's competencies. When done correctly, performance reviews can help provide valuable information to enhance your self-awareness. If you're due for a performance review, acknowledge any feedback your manager or colleagues have about you, create a plan and take action to implement any changes necessary to improve. Here's an example:

Cindy just had her annual performance review, and in her feedback, her manager and teammates suggest that while she is dependable, she could work on taking more initiative on projects and tasks. Cindy realises that the reason for this is that she's uncertain about how other team members see her when she gives her own opinions.

She decides to become more self-aware of how her actions affect her teammates and takes the steps to observe colleagues who succeed at taking initiative so she can learn from them. She also takes a public speaking course that enables her to gain insight into how to structure her thoughts. This allows her to slowly gain confidence and become an outstanding contributor to her company.

Benefits of self-awareness

Self-awareness allows you to clarify your thoughts, feelings, behaviours and values and recognise the effects that others have on you and vice versa. Understanding how others view you allows you to empathise with those from different backgrounds and those who have different perspectives. Self-awareness can also help you to:

  • Improve your skills by understanding your strengths and weaknesses

  • Improve your happiness at work by aligning your actions with your ideals

  • Become a better leader by understanding others

  • Strengthen personal and work relationships by managing emotions

  • Improve your decision-making by being aware of the significance of your actions

7 steps on how to be more self-aware at work

Practising self-awareness allows you to react more positively to new and different situations. You can follow these steps to guide you towards a greater level of personal understanding:

1. Write a plan and prioritise it

A good way to help you become more self-aware is to write down what you want to do so you can monitor your progress. You can keep a diary or balance sheet to record your personal traits and how they may change. This can assist you in understanding your strengths and weaknesses and allow you to add new traits if you believe they can benefit you. Writing your priorities can also help you focus on what you want to achieve and avoid any distractions.

Related: What Are Critical Success Factors? Benefits and Examples

2. Keep an open mind

Regulating your emotions allows you to be more receptive to other people's ideas. Keeping an open mind may help you understand and acknowledge different points of view on how to solve a business problem. It may help you be more proactive and allow you to think more critically and rationally. It can also help you consider new perspectives, which is essential for career growth.

Related: 12 Cognitive Activities to Enhance Your Thinking Skills

3. Understand your emotional triggers

Being self-aware enables you to identify your emotions as they happen. On any day, you may experience a range of emotions, which often relate to specific events, such as speaking to a manager or client. Your response can vary depending on the circumstances and your frame of mind at that moment. Recognising emotional triggers may take time, but it can have positive effects on working relationships and help you deal with potential challenges.

4. Practise mindfulness

Being mindful is allowing yourself to deal with situations in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past. Mindfulness at work gives you the time and space to be present, which can lead to resilience, mental agility and self-awareness. Also, mindfulness may reduce emotional fatigue and increase openness to new ideas. It can also reduce workplace stress by raising your awareness of physical sensations, thoughts and emotions and how you can resolve them.

5. Know your capabilities

Understanding what you're capable of allows you to choose challenging tasks that don't exceed your abilities. Knowing your capabilities and strengths can give you a new appreciation for characteristics that you previously undervalued in yourself. Because of this, it may provide you with clarity about your role, allowing you to use your strengths to boost your confidence and productivity.

6. Seek honest feedback from others

One aspect of being self-aware is understanding what others think about you. If you're working, seek colleagues or friends in the office who you can talk to and ask them for feedback on your work or decisions. Seeking a mentor who can give you the benefit of their experience may be especially helpful.

Related: Why Is Feedback Important in the Workplace? (With Tips)

7. Reassess regularly

It can benefit you to assess your self-awareness regularly to keep yourself up to date. You can schedule regular meetings with your mentor or team to reflect on how you deal with issues and which behaviours you can work on. If you work alone, consider keeping a journal and updating it regularly, pinpointing things you've improved on and aspects you think would benefit from improvement. Personality tests, work evaluations and aptitude tests can also help you with your self-awareness.

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