“We all have blind spots. To deny it is to prove it.” ~ Russ Ramsey
Ever been in a conversation with a person who had no idea how their words were negatively impacting you? Ever had a boss who was clueless about how their angry rants were demoralizing you and your work peers? Their gaping blind spots were visible to everyone except themselves.
It’s easy to identify blind spots in other people. Much harder to identify our own. (A friend pointed out to me, “That’s why they call them blind spots!”) So, I’m asking you to read this post not with others in mind . . . rather, with yourself and yourself only in mind.
Perhaps the most effective cure for our blind-spotted-ness is developing self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to have a clear perception of your personality: strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions. Self-awareness helps you to understand how other people perceive you, your attitude, and your responses to them. It’s a critical factor in healthy relationships.
The question is, how do we become more self-aware? How do we get better at discovering our own blind spots? I think one approach involves asking ourselves three important questions:
Question 1: What’s it like to be on the other side of me?
Ask yourself: “How do I come off to others, really? What responses do my words and behaviors evoke in people? Am I likeable?” Likeability is much more than being a nice guy or gal. It’s the ability to create good emotions in other people. Do other people feel better after having been around me . . . or worse? Do they feel valued, or marginalized?
I tend to think I’m wonderful to be around, but it doesn’t really matter what I think about that. It’s what other people think about it that truly matters. A good exercise for all of us would be to ask people—who we know will tell us the truth: What’s it like to be on the other side of my words, my personality, my behavior?” And then brace ourselves. It takes real maturity to accept honest feedback from our truth-telling friends.
Question 2: What can I do to get better?
Once we get unfiltered feedback on how our personality impacts people, it’s not always easy to know what next steps to take. Here is where we might want to ask those who’ve given us their perspective on how we come off toward them, to take it one step further. Ask them, “How do you think I can get better?” You may want grab pen and paper to take notes.
Asking this second question speaks to our teachability. Teachable people gradually mature and get better at creating good emotions in their work peers, friends, and family. Unteachable people stay immature, and continue to create negative feelings in those who are in the path of their unaware words and behaviors.
Question 3: Who can take the journey with me toward a better version of myself?
King Solomon wrote: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.” If nobody is speaking into our life and challenging us to grow, we’ll likely remain blissfully non-self-aware. But those near us will be less than blissful. And they may begin avoiding us. Becoming self-aware doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Left to ourselves, it’s a safe bet we’ll continue living in denial. We’ll wonder why people tend to not initiate time with us. Left to our own devices, a lack of self-awareness will tend to fester, and limit the potential of our relationships. Find a mentor or someone who’s a bit further down the journey of life, who can walk alongside on your self-awareness journey.
You may be wondering, “why does this ‘self-awareness stuff’ matter? Why should I bother working on it?”
Jenni Catron explains: “A study by the organizational consulting firm, Green Peak Partners, and Cornell University examined 72 executives at public and private companies and found that “a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success.” The study also showed that while experience, confidence, ability to make tough decisions, and other so-called ‘hard skills’ were important, the researchers concluded that self-awareness was the key differentiator for the most successful leaders. The executives most likely to deliver good bottom-line results are actually self-aware leaders who are especially good at working with individuals and in teams.”
I would argue the same dynamics work in personal relationships as well. There is much to be gained when we grow in self-awareness. And much to be lost if we don’t.
So . . . are you in touch with what it’s like to be on the other side of you? If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure,” don’t despair. You can become more self-aware. Work your way through the above three questions on a regular basis. Invite people to speak into your life. Ask God to help you see yourself more accurately.
Those who rub shoulders with you will be grateful.
I’m rooting and praying for you!