In recent years, many executives in upper management have become more focused on improving the self-awareness of their employees. There are very good reasons for undertaking this task because studies have shown over and over again that whenever we view ourselves clearly, we benefit greatly. It allows us to be more creative and make better decisions. We are also more confident, we communicate more clearly, and we cultivate stronger relationships with others.
If you have ever sought a definition for self-awareness, it is quite possible that you have seen several of them. This is most likely the primary reason that our collective self-awareness as a society is not improving. The most common way to define self-awareness is to see it as the difference between how we view ourselves and how we believe other people see us.
The first component of every self-awareness study has always been internal self-awareness – which is how subjects view themselves. This is how we see things like our passions, our values, and our goals are fitting into our environment.
The second component has always been external self-awareness, which is our understanding of how other people are viewing us – and how they see our actions and words fitting into the common environment that we share with them.
The Relationship between Internal and External Self-Awareness
Most people would naturally assume that people who have high internal self-awareness would also have high external self-awareness – and vice versa. But research indicates that there is no correlation at all between internal and external self-awareness, which is not the best news for mankind.
In spite of living in the most educated society that has ever existed in the history of man, our self-awareness levels do not seem to be improving. It implies that we are capable of gaining knowledge, but not as capable of gaining wisdom. This is quite shameful because wisdom is the most honorable manner of applying knowledge.
Obstacles of Self-Awareness
Contrary to common belief, research has sadly indicated that humans do not learn from their life experiences in all cases. This means that they are not always willing to seek the truth or even weed out false data and information. Many of them are not willing to question their assumptions. The only obvious reason for this behavior is power and personal reward.
The problem with power is that leaders tend to overestimate their own skills and abilities. Studies have shown that high level leaders just about always overvalue their skills relative lower-level leaders.
Introspection Doesn’t Always Improve Self-Awareness
Another assumption is that more introspection will improve our level of self-awareness. But again, this turns out to be yet another assumption that is wrong. Can we not see that all these wrong assumptions we have about self-awareness is evidence that we have low self-awareness as a society?
This actually proved to be one of the most shocking discoveries from self-awareness studies. Research tells us that introspective people are actually less self-aware and tend to have experience less job satisfaction and overall well-being.
Listed below are several articles that indicate our society has very low self-awareness as a whole:
The Dunning-Kruger Effect Shows Why Some People Think They’re Great Even When Their Work Is Terrible
If you’ve ever dealt with someone whose performance stinks, and they’re not only clueless that their performance stinks but they’re confident that their performance is good, you likely saw the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action. The Dunning-Kruger Effect Shows Why Some People Think They’re Great Even When Their Work Is Terrible
People Don’t Know When They’re Being Jerks
According to a study posted on the psychology preprint server PsyArXiv, people are relatively accurate judges, moment to moment, of whether they’re acting outgoing or shy. They’re also good judges of whether their behavior is conscientious and reliable or a bit more haphazard. But people aren’t quite as good at gauging whether they’re being rude. People Don’t Know When They’re Being Jerks
How Your Brain Lies with Confirmation Bias – D-brief
Confirmation bias is a particularly prominent way humans get things wrong. Make a decision, or even just hold an opinion on something, and from then on your sneaky brain will make you think any new information will support your previous choice. Whether you’re considering whom to support in the next election or what schools to apply to, confirmation bias can subtly reinforce our already-formed opinions if we’re not careful. How Your Brain Lies with Confirmation Bias – D-brief
What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)
As an organizational psychologist and executive coach, I’ve had a ringside seat to the power of leadership self-awareness for nearly 15 years. I’ve also seen how attainable this skill is. Yet, when I first began to delve into the research on self-awareness, I was surprised by the striking gap between the science and the practice of self-awareness. All things considered, we knew surprisingly little about improving this critical skill. What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)