Help your team to
get to know themselves
Self-awareness is key to a more fulfilling life in the workplace and at home
By Angela Civitella
Developing self-awareness is important for better relationships and for a more fulfilling life, both in the workplace and at home.
With a good understanding of how we relate to others, we can adjust our behaviour so that we deal with them positively. By understanding what upsets us, we can improve our self-control. And by understanding our weaknesses, we can learn how to manage them, and reach our goals despite them.
However, it’s difficult to be objective when we think about ourselves, and how others actually see us can be quite different from what we think they see.
There are ways in which people can develop self-awareness on their own. However, coaching can be a better way of helping people view their own actions and reactions objectively, so it’s useful for helping people to build self-awareness.
… it’s difficult to be objective when we think about ourselves, and how others actually see us can be quite different from what we think they see.
Here we will look at six approaches that you can use to help others build this self-awareness.
Approach 1: Using psychometric tests
Psychometric tests are useful for giving people an objective view of how they behave and how they compare in outlook with others. The answers they give categorize them by the personality traits or preferences they show and then provide some commentary on these.
Of course, none of these tools captures the richness and uniqueness of an individual person. But they can point out the similarities and differences between people.
Once the people you’re coaching have taken these tests, you can explore what the test results mean, and help them think about what they have learned about themselves, and the way they interact with other people.
Approach 2: Sampling new experiences
We often discover new things about ourselves when we’re in unusual situations, or facing new challenges. Our reactions or responses to new environments, new people, or new demands can help us understand how we deal with some of the more familiar aspects of our lives. However, rather than waiting for new experiences to arrive, it can be really valuable to look for them proactively.
‘Our reactions or responses to new environments, new people, or new demands can help us understand how we deal with some of the more familiar aspects of our lives.’
We can do this for ourselves by taking different types of vacations, or experimenting with new hobbies, for example. We may find hidden talents, or things about ourselves that we didn’t know about – particularly when the new activities are stimulating and energizing.
One way of doing this in the workplace is to encourage people to explore unfamiliar roles or situations. The advantage of using coaching in these situations is that you can help the person you’re coaching explore which new roles to try, and you can then help them analyze the experience afterward.
As a coach, the key is to help them interpret the experience, and ensure that any learning from it passes back into the coached person’s day-to-day life.
Approach 3: Telling your life story
There’s a big difference between reading a résumé and meeting a candidate at a job interview. Likewise, it can be very revealing to hear someone’s life story first hand.
An experienced coach who listens to someone talk about their life will see and hear so much more than simple facts. These stories can reveal whether people really understand who they are, and why their lives have turned out in the way they have.
‘There’s a big difference between reading a résumé and meeting a candidate at a job interview. Likewise, it can be very revealing to hear someone’s life story first hand.’
Do they understand the impact of the way they were raised, and the influence of their friends and family on the decisions they’ve made so far? What types of emotional journeys have they taken? Is their life full of joy, or weighed down with deep fears or anger? To what extent do their past experiences affect their current experiences? Do they accept themselves for who they are, or do they fight against this, and have a false self-perception?
Whatever the content of the story, a coach’s questions and feedback often make the difference between a story that’s just told and a story that’s really heard and understood by the person being coached as much as by the coach.
Approach 4: Daily writing
It’s often said that to write well, you have to write every day. By writing down your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis, you build fluency – particularly, emotional fluency. This habit also captures the mood of the moment – when reviewed at a later date, the collection of writing can help the writer understand the range of emotions he or she has experienced.
For the creative writer, this is an exercise of skill and fantasy building. But for people who write about their experiences and feelings, this regular writing improves their self-awareness.
In coaching, a coachee’s daily journal is great resource to use. The journals can often be an excellent prompt for discussion during your coaching conversations.
‘Describing the role each of us plays – at work, within our family group, across our circle of friends, or in our local community – builds a picture of how we see ourselves relative to others.’
Approach 5: Defining your role
We all play many roles in life. To some, we are colleagues; to others, we may be family or friends. Describing the role each of us plays – at work, within our family group, across our circle of friends, or in our local community – builds a picture of how we see ourselves relative to others.
In coaching, the way the person being coached perceives his or her role can help you understand their underlying motivation for achieving tasks and goals. It can also help explain why coachee’s may fail to make progress towards their goals and objectives. If you have issues with people in these areas, take your time to explore their understanding of their roles – this may provide a great opportunity to help people improve their performance.
Approach 6: Using the coach as a mirror
The very best coaches are careful to tell the people they’re coaching precisely the truth they need; at precisely the time they need it. When they do this, they are the perfect “mirror” for coachees to see themselves as they really are.
To do this well, coaches need to invest time and attention in understanding how people see their lives, what they’re sensitive about, what energizes them, and what makes them lose energy. Within a safe and trusted coaching relationship, coachees should expect that, when asked, their coach will tell them honestly what they’ve seen and heard.
As well as providing this valuable feedback, the coach’s role here is to help the people they’re coaching to be honest and straightforward when observing their own behaviours and actions.
‘The very best coaches are careful to tell the people they’re coaching precisely the truth they need; at precisely the time they need it. When they do this, they are the perfect “mirror” for coachees to see themselves as they really are.’
With high levels of self-awareness, we can find the right direction in life, and we can build better relationships with other people. Coaching is great for helping your people build this self-awareness.
As a coach, you can help the people you’re coaching interpret and understand information about themselves, and there are six main approaches you can use to do this. These include examining feedback, analyzing outcomes from psychometric tests, learning from new experiences, and considering people’s life stories.
Try using these approaches with your people – you’ll be surprised by how powerful they can be!
Image: Public Domain
Angela Civitella, a certified management business coach with more than 20 years of proven ability as a negotiator, strategist, and problem-solver creates sound and solid synergies with those in quest of improving their leadership and team building skills. You can reach Angela at 514 254-2400 • linkedin.com/in/angelacivitella/ • intinde.com • @intinde