What you think of yourself vs what others think of you could be like the difference between a horse and a seahorse. Why does it matter how well we know ourselves? What can we do to get a greater understanding of what others think about us? How do misperceptions of oneself even originate?
Self-Awareness is at the heart of emotional intelligence. The better you know how others perceive your actions, the easier it is for you to cater your communication in the way you want to be perceived. How others interpret you can be based on what you say to what you do to how you look. For example, Jay Cutler (the quarterback for the Chicago Bears) gives the impression that he doesn’t care when he plays football and many would care to argue that this is because of his face. Jay Cutler has a bad case of RBF (Resting Bitch Face) which turns people off and causes people to not like him, regardless of whether he is a likeable guy. If Jay Cutler made more of an effort to smile more, people would probably like him more. The point of this example is to convey that how self-aware you are can directly impact how well others like you.
Impressions are created in seconds, whether that is what you heard about somebody, saw in or on somebody, or what you perceive about somebody. Self-Awareness is the ability to understand what people think about you and emotional intelligence is the ability to cater your communication through language, body, and perception to the message you would like to embody.
It matters how well we know ourselves because the more self-aware we are, the happier we will be. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and learning where your place is based on those strengths and weaknesses is paramount to finding the place where your perceptions meet reality. If you have an unrealistic perspective of yourself, you will consistently be disappointed because you will expect to be treated in a certain way and consistently not receive that response.
We gain a greater understanding of ourselves by listening to the feedback of others. The biggest difficulty people have with this sentence is the word “listening”. Humans possess an inherent drive to not admit our flaws. It is natural for people to get defensive when a flaw is pointed out because to us, flaws are a sign of vulnerability. What most humans don’t understand is that other humans like when people can admit their own flaws. For example, many comedians are extremely successful because they can make fun of themselves. Kevin Hart is hilarious because he fully understands how short he is and all of the downfalls (and silly upsides) to being short. People see this vulnerability in another person and it makes them comfortable to be vulnerable themselves.
Misperceptions of oneself build when we see an idealized version of what we think we can mold ourselves into. For example, many university business schools inform their students that employers are looking for students who have strong work ethic, listening skills, and communication skills. Many students, with the desire to eventually get a job from such an employer, tell themselves that they are strong in all of those skills (whether or not they have worked to develop those skills). When those “aspirational” strengths become so encoded into one’s mental view of ourselves, we build an unrealistic idea of how people perceive who we are.
Ambition In Motion is a company that helps young professionals develop key soft skills, emotional intelligence, and self-awareness. Ambition In Motion helps young professionals gain a realistic idea of what it means to be in the working world and helps unite a company’s business goals with a young professional’s personal goals. These skills directly correlate to higher job satisfaction, productivity, and retention.