The importance of self awareness

By Matt Swanson

“If reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t keep people with no shame down.” Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

Self-awareness has been broadly defined as, “knowledge and awareness of one’s own personality or character”. Self-awareness of the areas in our personality or character that need to be adjusted or fine-tuned is what I’m concerned about.

A lack of self-awareness is one of the main reasons we, and our team members, do not achieve the exceptional customer service we desire. We are genuine, friendly, kind people but we fail to realize that we are not always treating people accordingly. We have developed a lack of self-awareness of our own negative behaviors, facial expressions, verbal and non-verbal signals that we are sending toward our customers. We don’t realize that often we are sending out a message that we are not intending to send.

This is one of the reasons there can be such a discrepancy between how we view ourselves and how our customers and potential customers view us.

There’s an interesting phenomenon in reality TV – if you can spot it. Participants often show behavioral changes because they’re forced self-awareness from watching how they behave on screen. We watch people go through the process of realizing truths about themselves, that they were previously blind too, even though they were obvious to those around them.

We learn from this that it is possible and even quite common for individuals to become blind to the reality of the message their behavior is really sending. The bottom line is we can think we are providing extraordinary customer service but in reality our behavior is sending the opposite message.

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” Rosalynn Carter.

One of the hardest tasks great leaders have is leading those people to those places they don’t readily want to go. Helping someone become more self-aware is often akin to helping someone see their negative traits they did not see before. No doubt a precarious task!

In this area especially, it is of absolute importance that leaders lead by EXAMPLE. This task requires leaders to be humble and transparent enough to see where they can grow in their own self-awareness. They must demonstrate that they want and need assistance in seeing the things that they don’t see.

Once a leader has established that they are willing to learn from others input, they in turn will be much more effective in providing constructive critique to others. Leaders must work at “seeing” and “feeling” the things that customers “see” and “feel”. Then they must consistently and fervently go about changing the environment and behavior in their environment. That’s when we create an extraordinary atmosphere that appeals to every customer and makes them feel welcomed, reassured and significant.

These changes only come as the leader and team become more self-aware and therefore able to make significant change in each other and in themselves. After all, you cannot change what you do not see.

One Comment on “The importance of self awareness”

  1. Johari’s window comes to mind. Your example is revelant and important. And it translates perfectly in a live classroom setting. Thank you Matt.

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