Don’t get stuck in the perception that communication is all about what you say. It rarely occurs to people that listening is the most important part of communication. In order to listen deeply to others we must have increased self-awareness that allows for a level of listening that is free from our own assumptions and judgments. It is our own assumptions and judgments that can lead to poor communication outcomes.
What is self-awareness?
By definition, self-awareness is the psychological state of knowing oneself. It is a form of self-reflection that allows us to understand our own relationship between thoughts, feelings, intentions, beliefs, values, assumptions, biases, fears and expectations and how that relates to our reactions and behaviours when responding to others. It forms an understanding of our internal filters and how they affect the way we see and hear others.
It can be common that when we hear something that contradicts our values or interests, we tend to react by becoming defensive which immediately reduces our ability to listen effectively and make choices when we respond. Self-awareness is a skill that can be developed to enhance understanding of your emotional triggers and judgements.
Why does self-awareness lead to better communication?
Self-awareness allows for listening that is free of the assumptions and judgments that compromise healthy communication. Understanding our own filters that color our communication style can allow us the space to decide how to respond to others, with the intention of communicating clearly and with purpose.
Being aware of your communication traits, behaviours and feelings can allow you to catch yourself when you move into a defensive mindset, or become upset with someone. It gives you an understanding of why you feel like you do and allows you to thoughtfully respond rather than react to the situation.
When we react it is based on emotion and defensiveness and our ability to listen is compromised. When we respond our communication can be crafted to become a powerful tool that can facilitate problem solving and emotional connection.
How do I increase my self-awareness?
Create space and time for yourself to self analyse. Use tools such as Extended DISC®* profiling to discover more about your behavioural traits. Process your thoughts through journalling. This allows you time to be reflective and to refer back to previous situations and make comparisons. Asking for feedback from varied sources can also help your self-understanding and identifying areas to further develop. Self-awareness is a skill which requires dedication and practice to improve.
Knowing how self-awareness can affect communication can improve every relationship in your life. It’s incumbent on each of us to listen – deeply listen- to what accumulates and stirs within ourselves to ensure we communicate constructively and in a way that is not influenced by our assumptions and beliefs but is considerate of what the other person is trying to say.
How can we help?
If you want to transform your communication skills, understand your communication styles and increase your self-awareness, join our Communication Skills workshop today.
*Extended DISC® is an assessment tool designed to help individuals, teams and organisations to become more successful by providing accurate respondent information and individual suggestions for appropriate style adaptions in a range of workplace environments and circumstances. The reports provide user friendly information that changes the way individuals communicate, interact and work together.
Blog written by Jo Riley | ATI-Mirage’s Lead Consultant PD & Wellness