Most people don’t associate their work performance with their emotional patterns and personality. That’s because we’ve been taught to separate it and to only approach work in a very logical way.
In the day-to-day, this typically involves looking only at tasks to fulfill, then goal-setting and achieving. We’ve been conditioned to ignore the emotions associated with these tasks. Instead, we’re taught to rinse, lather, repeat, and keep our heads down.
In using this outdated industrial worldview, it’s easy to forget that we’re human, that we each come with our own quirks, emotions, history, trauma, and subconscious beliefs. And to top that all off, we all think and act a little differently.
Business is about working together with all types of people successfully. When you factor these emotional aspects into a work environment, you can see that there’s a lot of room for conflict, confusion, and disagreement.
With that friction, though, there’s also a lot of opportunity for creativity, innovation, and collaboration.
What I’ve found is that the more self-aware you are, the more you’re able to work successfully within an organization, a team, and in your own business.
I didn’t start becoming self-aware until 2018 when I really had no other choice. I realized I was repeating unhelpful behaviors that were resulting in the same type of interpersonal conflicts at work and the wrong kinds of jobs.
I wasn’t picking the right jobs and that would show up as frustration in not being able to perform. It wasn’t until I walked away and took some time to work on myself that I came back to work with a completely new perspective.
I now see a world of a difference it’s made in my day-to-day work to be self-aware. It’s resulted in my ability in selecting a better job, and then performing that job with more clear communication, collaboration, and opportunity for innovation.
When you become aware of your inner world and change it, your outer world changes for the better too.
Here’s the thing. Most people aren’t in a self-aware relationship with themselves. That’s because it takes a lot of hard work to consistently reflect on where and who you are.
For a lot of people, that involves having to look at what they would much rather ignore. Others don’t take the time for a reflective practice because they don’t see the value. So even a small increase in awareness of ourselves would make a noticeable difference in our workplace.
What if we all learned our triggers so we manage our stress better or were brave enough to propose what we think, even if it’s indirect disagreement with another, without viewing it as confrontation?
This type of change in behavior involves looking at your past, releasing emotions that may have never been processed, creating new mindset patterns, and having compassion for yourself through it all.
Imagine if almost everyone did this? I believe our entire workforce would look a lot more connected, collaborative, and innovative. That translates to success for everyone.
One important point before we move forward: If you don’t have a meditation practice, it’s going to be very hard to be self-aware.
Even with journaling and working with a skilled therapist and coach, meditation is going to give you insight into yourself that only you can access. It doesn’t have to be a lot; you can start with just meditating five minutes a day.
Here’s how being self-aware helps you be successful at work.
Knowing Yourself Helps You Know Others
The more intimate of a relationship you can create with yourself, the more intimate and positive relationships you can cultivate with others.
Your relationship with yourself is ultimately the most important one you’ll have because it truly does set the tone for your other relationships.
When you have self-trust, you can trust others. When you have self-respect, you can respect others. When you acknowledge your achievements for yourself, you can acknowledge achievements in others.
When you are able to own where you are coming up short, you don’t act out unconsciously in small ways of spite. That’s known as passive-aggressive behavior and is quite common because it stems from the feeling of not believing that you have the ability to actually express yourself authentically.
Instead, when you’re self-aware, you see the issue — say, taking on too much work because of a history of codependency — and you correct it.
I’m now able to resolve issues at work with much more ease because the way I approach issues is less about defending my ego than it used to be. In other words, I’m not reacting from a hurt place of an old wound, of not being able to confront my dad (who struggled with alcoholism) when I was younger.
I can see the other person’s perspective now because my own pain isn’t blocking this. I can see their perspective and still maintain my own, and be at peace with that. I can also recognize the signs in myself that let me know when I’m approaching burnout and I set boundaries to prevent that.
Think of how being self-aware in this way saves you and your company costs, time, and energy. The work can be done more efficiently when emotions are managed well. It also contributes to a positive and open company culture.
You Have More Awareness Of Your Patterns As They Come Up
You can address issues as they come up with others, and you might also notice you have fewer interpersonal issues when you’re at peace with yourself.
Say for example you know that you have a tendency to be very self-focused — once you get started on a project you don’t really come up for air or connect with your colleagues.
If you’re aware of this, you can pick up on when your behavior starts alienating others and you can take the action of intentionally connecting with your team by setting it as an item on your calendar.
When you see an old pattern in behavior that shows up, you can break that pattern by acting in a new way. You’ll find that with a meditation practice, you can very quickly pinpoint a root cause for why you’re acting the way that you are.
I’ve found that my clients are able to see an old pattern come up with their heightened awareness (from meditation and coaching) and take a different action very quickly to resolve conflicts in a healthy way.
That’s the greatest benefit of meditation practice: It benefits you more off the pillow, in your day-to-day life.
No matter how much healing work you do you might have remnants of ingrained beliefs that are no longer serving you, so being aware of them and working around them puts you at an advantage.
You Communicate More Effectively
When you’re in clear communication with yourself, whether that’s through a reflective practice like meditation, working with a coach, therapy, or journaling, and/or all the above, you’re better able to communicate with others.
That’s because you realize that everyone has a different way of communicating and you make sure to communicate proactively so that others you work with know where you stand.
This way you address issues as they come up instead of burying your head in the sand and letting issues fester, which quickly turns into resentment.
When you’re self-aware, you realize with your own healing that you’re better equipped to address the root cause of an issue before it snowballs into something bigger.
If you aren’t self-aware, you might not even realize that you haven’t communicated enough and you might not see that by shifting your communication style you can create more productive, mutually beneficial relationships.
What if like me, you grew up in a family with an alcoholic parent, and you were yelled at when you spoke out on what was going on. You were yelled at even times you didn’t expect to be, and you felt like you had to walk on eggshells. As a result, you internalized the belief that it’s not always safe to communicate what you’re doing or thinking.
If you’re aware of that pattern, then you’re able to heal it by choosing a new behavior like communicating an update on a project even if at first you tell yourself it’s not necessary or that it could create an unwanted reaction from your manager.
You see, it’s not a helpful or true belief, so you’re able to go around the pattern by taking action. If you’re not self-aware in this situation, you will hold back information you think could get a negative reaction, and this causes frustration from your team and/or manager.
How you show up in your work has a lot to do with your core beliefs and upbringing, so by healing this and even by just becoming aware of it, you show up as a better employee.
Being Consistent In Working On Yourself Translates To Being Consistent In Learning And Developing Your Job Skills
When you work on your personal development, a natural by-product of that is your drive to work on your professional development. They are one and the same really, and so by wanting to invest in your growth, your company and/or business both benefit.
No matter what type of role you’re in, continuously learning benefits not only grows you but also grows your team and company. This is an excellent quality in candidates that companies are always looking for.
No one but you is going to look out for your career development, so you are able to drive this consistently and put it in your own hands. The skills you continuously add on will benefit you no matter what company or job you’re in.
So in order for your team to perform, make today the day you start to become more self-aware. Start by meditating five minutes daily for a few weeks, then slowly increase the time.
You don’t need to be meditating all the time. After all, it’s the benefits you’ll see after your practice ends.
Being self-aware not only improves your performance and your team’s performance at work, but it also improves your relationships at work and in other areas of your life as well.
Overall, this leads to being more efficient, communicative, and collaborative on your team. People like to work with people that they like and whom they feel good in their presence. It doesn’t take a lot to get started with, but if you stick with these tools to become more aware of yourself, you will be more successful at work, and this benefits everyone.