In my previous blog post, if you answered the 18 questions honestly, you will broadly know whether you tend towards assertiveness. This is the first step in self-awareness. The challenge now is to ‘take a look’ at yourself: observe and analyse the choices you make every day. Reflect by playing back in your mind how you were at different times of the day: your body language, how you communicated, your thoughts, how you felt, what emotions were present. This type of self-observation gets you to a level of awareness of why you behave (or do not behave) the way you do in different situations. With the belief firmly in mind: we can only change ourselves not other people, how we think and behave can hinder or open up other people to be more themselves with us. It affects their ability to be their true and authentic selves and we have the choice then as to whether we want to spend time with them or not, but at least we will get to experience them as they truly are. So, it is a win/win: a win for you because you have heightened self-awareness from where you can grow and develop your strengths and a win for them, because you are allowing them to be their true selves, ‘warts and all’. From that position, we can achieve so much more that is positive and life-affirming such as resolve conflict, increase confidence and self-esteem, dissolve anger and fear, influence and persuade, help and support: it is an enriching experience for all involved.
While observing yourself and your choices, take into account the following:
My Thinking and Beliefs:
|Everyone else is inferior||It’s not good to upset people||People deserve respect|
|People should be more like me||People will think badly of me||We all live by different rules and all have rights|
|People should behave as I think they should||People won’t like me||People and their behaviour are two different things|
|I win/you lose||I lose/you win||We both win|
|Raised volume||Weak voiced and Sighs||Medium volume and pace|
|Rapid speech||Hesitant speech||Emphasis/inflection on key words|
|Tone of voice displaying instruction, sarcasm, criticism, ridicule ….||Tone of voice undermines conviction||Steady tone and pitch|
My body language:
|Finger wagging/pointing/jabbing and similar threatening, impatient gestures||Hand-wringing, fidgeting, frequently shifting posture when under pressure||Encouraging/attentive movements Gestures support words said|
|Extremes of facial expression||Changing facial expression reflecting needs of other person||Facial expression supports/encourages communication; otherwise empathetic/ attentive|
|Excessive eye contact||Minimal eye contact||Effective eye contact|
|Full open and ‘expansive’ posture||‘Shrinking’ and closed posture protective gestures||Open posture and gestures|
|Comfortable distances not maintained||Distance maintained from other person||Comfortable distance according to circumstances|
|Should, ought and other authoritarian words used as instructions to others||Frequent justifications and permission-seeking statements||Factual rather than emotive/personal words|
|Generally dismissive of others||Inconspicuous||Attentive and Listening|
|Self-centred||Quick to agree||Displays genuine interest in others|
|Critical of person, uses ‘put-downs’, sarcasm, ridicule, exaggeration, generalisations||Criticises self||Criticises behaviour not person|
|Rejects all critcism outright||Takes criticism personally/as proof of self-depreciation||Accepts valid criticism and learns from mistakes|
|Suggestions/requests given as orders||Rambling||Authoritative|
|Abrupt||Reluctant to get to the point||States needs, feelings openly|
|Uses questions to threaten others; can bully||Is indirect and vague, opts out often||Questions effectively to seek understanding|
|Makes quick decisions in favour of self||Avoids situations and decisions||Makes informed balanced decisions|
|Allocates blame to others||Hides true feelings, accepts blame, blames self||Looks for solutions to benefit both parties|
Take some precious time out of your busy schedule to do some self-observation and reflection, you won’t regret it. In my next blog post I will share with you what you can do to change: the tips, tactics and approaches most favoured by the clients I have worked with in coaching and training workshops.
Take a look at yourself, and appreciate who you are.
Anne Marie Crowley BA MSc Dip.Coaching, based in Cork Ireland, is a free-lance Coach and Trainer in the field of behavioural change for individuals and business. Anne Marie is the founder of Crowley Personal and Business Change.