Developing self-awareness to navigate work challenges & build confidence
It’s hard to feel confident at work 100% of the time. Even the best of us have moments of uncertainty.
Ask yourself: when was the last time you went to work and felt a bit unsure of yourself? Perhaps you were recently promoted, and the imposter syndrome is real, or your working day consists of a manager who questions or micromanages you.
There’s no shortage of situations that can humble us or knock us off our game when working in the corporate world, but there is a way to restore our faith in ourselves and approach our working selves differently too.
The importance of self-awareness in personal growth
Oxford defines confidence as 'a belief in your own ability to do things and be successful.'
The definition above requires our knowing what our abilities are (and on the flip side, making peace with things we’re not so great at). Once we understand our abilities, it helps to know how to speak to them, and how to best apply this knowledge in the workplace.
Studies show that, while most of us think we are self-aware (95%), only 10-15% of us actually are (source).
At Insights, we help people know themselves better using the Jungian theories of introversion vs extroversion, thinking vs feeling and perceiving vs. sensing. Personality preferences are plotted on a four-colour wheel, and we communicate how and why people behave as they do through the Insights Discovery language of colour energies.
The result is a psychometric model that’s deceivingly simple. Below are the Insights colour energies on a good day (left/top) and a bad day (right/bottom)
The Insights Discovery personal profile provides a deep dive into how you may behave in the workplace on a good day or under stress, and what likely motivates that behaviour. It also provides insight into your communication preferences, strengths and weaknesses, and why your interactions may flow well with some but feel strained with others.
Knowing yourself better and having the language to speak to your own style of working when talking to others are critical skills for not only being successful in the workplace, but for feeling grounded and confident.
Get comfortable in your own skin – the awareness advantage
“Greater self-awareness leads to greater self-confidence. Being deeply aware of who we are, what we value and what we’re good at are the key foundations for building confidence and making it a habit.”
At Insights we talk about the awareness advantage, but why is awareness so important? Because when we know ourselves and understand our strengths and foibles, we are in a position to leverage the former and mitigate the latter. We begin the critical process of learning to trust ourselves.
At a prosaic level, self-awareness allows us to predict challenging situations and get ahead of them. For example, a conversation with a difficult colleague or a project that doesn’t play to your strengths and is therefore likely to become a source of fatigue.
The more we know about ourselves, the more we can rely on our talents to carry us through and trust that we will succeed, and on the flip side, forgive ourselves for those talents we have yet to develop.
Practical tips to cultivate self-awareness
This is where the Insights language of colour energies plays a key role.
If you’ve done an Insights Discovery workshop, you’ll already know your leading colour energy, and you may even know your colleagues’ leading colour energies.
When we know our leading colour energy (ies), we get a better sense of what we’re really good at, what we’re not so good at, and we are shown how others may perceive us. Blind spots are made visible, and how we perceive others and how we inadvertently stereotype them becomes obvious too.
It can be confronting work, especially for those of us who idealise certain ways of being. For example, an introvert who always forces themselves to be ‘out there’; socialising and acting the life of the party. But as much as we might feel confronted by our true selves, it’s also freeing to have our true selves validated.
When we feel safe enough to show our authentic selves to our colleagues, we can start to take on roles that feel more natural to us and that leverage our natural talents; roles in which we’re likely to succeed. We may feel a sense of purpose because we are doing work that’s aligned with how we like to work, and in understanding our own strengths and weaknesses, we can release worry about those things we don’t do well, and stop trying to hide them from others.
When we no longer have to be good at everything, we begin to understand that it’s better to leverage our strengths, step back from those things we’re not great at (yet), and invite those with complementary strengths to the team.
It’s a 180˚ shift in perspective. Rather than worrying about yourself, you acknowledge that everyone around you is probably worrying about themselves, so you can step back! Now you have the ability to dovetail their skillset with yours, creating new and strategic collaborations.
How self-awareness enhances emotional intelligence and cultivates a sense of calm
When we are feeling insecure, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of activity around us, particularly if we’re surrounded by reactive colleagues.
But if we feel secure in ourselves and have developed sufficient self-awareness, we’re rarely thrown off by the drama around us. Imagine walking into a room where people are challenging each other, and emotions are running high. Rather than getting caught up in the drama, you can stay grounded, focused and calm in the middle of that room.
This particular advantage of awareness is rarely mentioned, but it’s impactful, nonetheless. When we master our reactions and learn to focus on others, rather than worrying about their focusing on us, we create the mental space to act strategically and with agility and grace.
This is what confidence feels like, this is how we empower ourselves, even in the toughest workplaces.
Remember too: It’s hard to be thrown off by criticism if you’re already aware of the particular weakness cited and are actively working on it. So even when darts are thrown at us, we can stay grounded and keep unwelcome comments in perspective. The irony is that learning to stay grounded in a situation where we are under fire expands our confidence because now we can add ‘resilience’ to our toolbox.
How self-awareness enhances emotional intelligence
There’s no easy fix for self-confidence but knowing ourselves better and learning to appreciate our authentic strengths and accept our (equally authentic) weaknesses is a strong start. This kind of self-awareness is the fuel that allows us to make better choices about the roles we accept, the people we partner with, how we communicate with others, and how we act and react when we’re feeling excited or stressed.
These actions give us the opportunity to set ourselves – and others – up for success, which in turn leads to greater self-esteem and self-confidence.
For more information on how self-awareness can help you in the workplace, download our Self awareness and your potential eBook here