Self-Awareness Improves Communication
A guest post by Marie W. Watts
Good communication skills are vital to building trust. Without it, we will be unable to bridge the racial divide in this country. The first step in developing your ability to express yourself effectively is to master self-awareness. Tuning into our own feelings, thoughts, and actions is paramount. Also, we need to be able to recognize how our behavior affects others.
I was raised in a rather stoic household. On the one hand, keeping my feelings hidden worked well when my younger brother jumped out and yelled “Boo!” He soon abandoned the game because I did not react. Additionally, when investigating employment discrimination complaints, knowing how to keep a poker face worked perfectly. No one knew my thoughts about the situation.
However, my inability to telegraph internal emotions caused issues in other sectors of my life. I remember my daughter saying to me, “You don’t care.” At first, my tendency was to ignore her accusation. After all, the statement was incorrect. Thankfully, I faced the uncomfortable feedback and, with some analysis, understood that I was not displaying outward signs through body language and tone of voice that reflected my emotions. Others aren’t mind readers, after all. From that point, I began a conscientious effort to use tone and facial expressions to communicate my sentiments to my loved ones and others.
Emotions play a powerful role in our lives. They are neither good nor bad—they just are. We can learn to control them or let them control us. Identifying feelings and the behaviors they elicit is paramount. Only when we know what pushes our buttons, why we do what we do, and how we react under stress can we deal with the upheaval. We can choose to consciously make choices to improve the outcome of those circumstances instead of shutting down.
The following steps can help improve self-awareness:
· Understand what you desire and why.
· Determine your strengths and weaknesses.
· Do things that make you feel good.
· Acknowledge your feelings.
· Analyze your emotional triggers. Do not be afraid to seek professional assistance to help you identify and work through them.
· Reflect on your thoughts and feelings.
· Ask for feedback.
· Monitor your self-talk by dwelling on the positives and not the negatives.
As our self-awareness increases, so does our confidence. The resulting enhanced communication skills will improve relationships with those who are different from ourselves, allowing us to be the change we seek. Additionally, it leads to a higher level of happiness. And we can all use more joy in our lives!
Marie W. Watts is a former employment discrimination investigator and human resource consultant with over twenty-five years of experience. In pursuit of justice in the workplace, she’s been from jails to corporate boardrooms seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly of humans at work.
A popular diversity and employment discrimination trainer, Marie has trained thousands of employees to recognize their own biases and prejudices and avoid discriminating against others in the workplace. She has brought her experiences to life in the trilogy Warriors For Equal Rights about the struggles of ordinary people who work at the little-known federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
She and her husband live on a ranch in central Texas. In her spare time, she supports a historic house and hangs out with her grandsons. For more information about Marie and her stories about life, visit www.mariewatts.com.
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