Self-Awareness: Here’s how to get it


Self-Awareness is crucially important in today’s workplace environment, as well as socially, personally and professionally. 

Self-Awareness leads to an understanding of our own behaviour allowing us to adjust our behaviour to the people around us. Not only does this allow for a culture of cohesion, it also helps build a tolerance of each other and a shared understanding.

Join Becky as we look at what Self-Awareness really is, why it’s important and how the Extended DISC® Grow & Development Assessment can help you build your Self-Awareness.


Today’s topic, self-awareness, is extensive, so we’re going to narrow it down and mainly focus on introducing the new Grow and Develop assessment and how you can use it to develop awareness. Sometimes I feel we get a little bit stuck in using the same DISC profile reports repeatedly. Yet, we can gain a vast amount of information from some of the other reports that we tend not to use. I wanted to point this out because we could be missing some vital information that is helpful for yourself or clients you might be coaching or your employees. So today, I’m going to be mentioning the Grow and Develop assessment and the 360 feedback report. 

What is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness is a crucial thing for today’s business environment and crucial socially, personally and professionally. Why? Well, self-awareness in the workplace is the thing that can lead to a better understanding of how our behaviour works, which in turn allows us to adjust our interactions with the people around us. If we understand ourselves better in situations, we can understand other’s differences and similarities, which builds on a culture of tolerance and leads to more effective interactions. 

What are the Benefits of Self-Awareness?

There seems to be an endless list of benefits of self-awareness. Some of the most poignant are increased job satisfaction, better creativity, increased staff retention, effective communication and increased productivity. 

The top 10 benefits of self-awareness are:

  1. Increased job satisfaction
  2. Better creativity
  3. Increased staff retention
  4. Effective Communication
  5. Increased productivity
  6. Better manage emotions
  7. Higher confidence levels
  8. More equipped to cope with stress
  9. Better time management
  10. Improved decision-making skills

Remarkably, even though many people believe they are self-aware, true self-awareness can be quite rare. It’s estimated that only 10-15% of people studied accurately fit the criteria of self-awareness.

How to Become More Self Aware?

Self-awareness tends to get divided into two aspects, internal and external. These aspects help us become more self-aware, and only through focusing on both aspects can we become self-aware. The two types of awareness are internal and external. 

Internal Self-Awareness

Internal self-awareness, sometimes known as self-knowledge, is an understanding of who we are and how we are similar to or different from others. Internal self-awareness refers to how we see our various personality traits, values, attitudes and behaviours, but it’s more than that. It’s knowing yourself through your weaknesses, strengths, motivators and things that might push your buttons and make you react. For example, you may work better under pressure, while others need a more deliberate and planned approach. Or, you may like a lot of freedom and autonomy when you work, while others prefer to have boundaries and expectations well established in their work-life. So, though we can all cope when we’re not in our ideal situation, we can begin to feel demotivated or disconnected if it happens repetitively. Knowing yourself is the key to improving yourself, and understanding your behavioural style is a fundamental part of that. Understanding who you are and why you react the way you do is a significant step to self-knowledge. It’s this first type of self-awareness that is linked with increased job and relationship satisfaction. 

External Self-Awareness

However, it’s all about self-knowledge. The other aspect is being aware of how consistent or inconsistent our self-view is compared to an external appraisal. External self-awareness is all about how other people see us and their perceptions of us. The definition of external self-awareness is the ability to understand how others see you and how you incorporate those views into your evaluation of yourself. So, external self-awareness is associated with greater levels of empathy in understanding others perspectives. External self-awareness is essential for transforming self-knowledge beyond personal analysis into an accurate well-balanced self-awareness. For that reason, I recommend using a 360 review tool as part of anyone’s development plan and not always just for leadership development.

Why is Self-Awareness Important?

So, why is self-awareness important? As individuals, the more we understand why we might be reacting or acting in a certain way, the more we can frame a situation to suit us and learn not to take things personally. For example, understanding why it might not be the best time for you to approach a client if you’re emotionally geared up and need processing time. Or that you might be pushing the boundaries on a sale to get that win, which is your motivator. However, be understanding and be prepared for the accounts person to be annoyed as they don’t have a form for your out-of-the-box deal you’ve just completed, which could trigger their annoyance. The deal is outside the rules, and rules are important to that accountant. So it can be one of their de-motivators. 

We certainly can’t learn everyone’s buttons and triggers, good or bad, as we are all a bit unique, and we all have areas that might trigger us for our reasons. There is a behavioural trend that we can apply to certain styles of people. For example, the way we might react and interact in stressful situations, what fears will trigger us, what we tend to avoid, what frustrates us and what frustrates others about us, and our motivators. We can learn all these factors using the easy framework of Extended DISC®. 

How to Improve Self-Awareness in the Workplace

There are many strategies to improve self-awareness in the workplace. A DISC assessment is one way to improve workplace self-awareness.

Can a DISC assessment help with self-awareness? Yes! of course. Internal self-awareness means knowing:

  • your traits 
  • your needs
  • your habits
  • how you manage emotions
  • your strengths
  • knowing what can cause you to experience stress and how to reduce it
  • how you tend to make decisions

You can gain all this knowledge from a DISC personality test. It can give you insight into how you might like to lead or even motivate others, especially if you’re in leadership. The above areas are where consultants and hr professionals can use the Extended DISC® Grow and Develop assessment to develop self-awareness in the workplace. Understandably the standard Extended DISC® assessment can offer a plethora of information that individuals can use in self-development. Sometimes we forget that specialised reports can yield excellent information too. The Grow and Develop assessment has much of the standard information and other insights in particular areas that individuals can apply to increase self-knowledge. 

These insights from the Grow and Develop assessment are wonderful if you’re conducting self-development with someone or creating a personal development plan. I tend to run this report myself whenever I’m looking at working further with someone in a development or coaching capacity. I run it firstly for myself to provide me with insights about the person. I then also give it to the manager to help them develop self-awareness and understand how to coach others. Finally, I run it for each team member as it holds vital information on how individuals like to be managed, team connections, empathy areas and more. After all, management involves coaching and information grouped in such a practical way is beneficial to help managers develop self-awareness in the workplace. Let’s look at some of the areas of the Grow and Develop assessment. 

About You Page

First, let’s look at the ‘About You’ page. This page discusses the following areas:

  • Your avoidance areas
  • Your decision-making preferences at a glance
  • Your ideal manager 
  • Your communication style

This is an excellent overview of your behavioural style and is wonderful for developing self-awareness in the workplace. It gets feedback rolling in coaching sessions and is an effective icebreaker as it gets the person talking about each of the little snippets. I can spend quite a bit of time on this page getting the person’s perception of themselves and how it fits with the assessment. It’s an excellent page to ensure that they understand that this is gathering their raw or natural behaviours, not ones they have developed or learned to adjust. 

Learning Styles Page

Next, we’ll look at the learning style page. Much has been written on learning styles, and you only need to Google it to see all the information that comes forward in this field. Nothing can beat learning when it’s applied accurately and directly to the person being assessed. Do you know your preferred learning style? I found out in the corporate world that people don’t even know what a preferred style is. In brief, a learning style is an individuals approach to learning based on strengths, weaknesses and preferences. Knowing yourself and how you learn is vital if you want to achieve the best of your ability. When it comes to processing information, our brains are in the hot seat. It’s where all the thinking, learning and decision making takes place. If you know your learning style, then you can learn in a more thoughtful way that suits you. I find this very important for developing leaders and how to manage individuals as well.

Preferred Job Content

Next, we will look at the preferred job content diamond. If you know your preferred job content or preferred work environment. You can match this with your needs and wants and link them to your motivators and de-motivators in the workplace. I have a ringside view of people unaware of what they may need in their job position. I watch them feel quite discontented without them knowing why they feel that way. I’m not saying that they, or you, can’t do a job outside your preferred natural environment. We all have to do aspects of our jobs that make us feel quite uncomfortable. However, there are fundamentals to try to work into the surroundings that help keep you engaged and connected. For example, think of a strong D personality who is being micromanaged and given many rules and boundaries. As you can see on the diamond on the screen (12:20), a high D style prefers freedom regarding their job environment. Of course, they can work within boundaries. Still, they prefer to make their decisions within that framework themselves. They need to feel that they have the authority and freedom to do so. Looking at the C style quadrant on the diamond, you can see two aspects: a clear role and the ability for concentration. Not being given any parameters or expectations of their role can hinder a C style, especially when their job description hasn’t been kept up to date with the actual job scope, which happens regularly. For a C type working in a chaotic environment can be demotivating as they prefer to concentrate.  

These days more and more companies are setting up their open planned offices using DISC theory. In the middle of the office are all the I styles, next is the S style, then the D styles are in the outer circle. The C styles are then nicely tucked away in the corners to keep them out of the chaos and give them that quietness when they need to concentrate. So, in using the Grow and Develop assessment, evaluate your preferred style and see where you sit on the job content diamond. Often we are attracted to industries where we can get a certain amount of factors that we need in our environment but not always. 

Self-Awareness and Time Management

Self-awareness and time management is a significant factor in the workplace. When I work with people doing their personal development plans, time management tends to be the most significant area in which people request additional coaching help. Many people struggle to implement good time management even though they are supposedly natural time managers, such as an S or a C who enjoy planning, lists and structures. While they might be natural at time management, they can sometimes struggle to prioritise what comes at them daily. So that means even though they like plans and structures, they are at the mercy of whatever comes their way that day or, worse been delegated that day. So get to know what you’re like at time management. A lot of improved productivity and job satisfaction results from implementing preferred time management structures.

Self-Awareness and Communication

The next competency group is communication. Communication is the way that others observe, hear and interact with us. Communication is probably the number one area in which we experience conflict. Everything from our delivery of what we say, our speed, tone, words, volume to how we express our opinions readily or tend to hold back. Communication also incorporates how we tend to talk, whether in detail and explanations versus big picture and short sentences. In the Grow and Develop assessment, there are unique competencies allocated to you out of hundreds available. They describe your top five most natural ways to communicate and your bottom five ways. So these are fantastic to discuss in coaching situations and to build self-awareness in the communication area. Remember, under pressure, we tend to revert to our natural style unless we are consciously aware of what we do and how to avoid it if it’s hindering us. We may also need different communication styles for different situations.

Self-Awareness and Empathy 

This competency group is unique to the Grow and Develop assessment.  Self-awareness and empathy are closely related and connected. Once we become more aware of what makes us who we are, we can better understand the differences between ourselves and others and what makes them who they are. In a nutshell, empathy is the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences or emotions. Many studies demonstrate that the more awareness gained, the more ability there is for empathy. Using the grow and develop assessment, you can review your own or discuss the natural or not as natural areas of empathy with a coach.

Self-Awareness and Prioritising 

The following section is Prioritising. We tend not to develop self-awareness and prioritising as much as we should through our schooling and beyond. We use it a bit during our academic years as we need to prioritise study. By the time we get into the workplace, we have issues and questions coming at us, and we often don’t learn to prioritise. Prioritising is the ability to identify and determine the importance of each task. Add pressure, miscommunications, other people’s bias to that and at times, many of us can find it hard to determine what’s important to attend to first. Some charts and structures can help you with this but first, learn what you tend to be like at it naturally. Learn if you have developed processes over the years to help you deal with it, or you like 80% of the workforce and fall into whatever comes at you at the day. 

Self-Awareness and Independence

As you can see on the slide (18:13), independence measures the tendency of a persons eagerness to take action and make independent decisions. Independence is the ability to think or act for oneself without support and being resourceful in the face of challenges. While it’s good self-awareness to know this about yourself, your actual job position may not always require independence, and some aspects of it may need a lot of independence. Remember that you can analyse independence in different elements. For example, you may work well independently without structures provided to you, but you may not be as independent in managing your time effectively. Though we tend to think of Cs and Ds wanting to work autonomously and independently, don’t think that the I and S styles don’t want independence in many other ways. Ensure that you have a good run-through of the competencies and all the different types of independence in different situations.

Self-Awareness and Initiative 

When you show initiative, you do things without being told. You do them before they need doing. You find out what you need to know, and you spot and take advantage of opportunities that others might pass by. Mostly it’s about acting rather than reacting. Most of us have seen initiative and action in the workplace. For example, maybe you’ve seen a young manager who fills her boss’s shoes when she’s sick, and the rest of the team is a bit unsure of what to do. We see it around us all the time, and it’s becoming increasingly important in the workplace as companies want employees who can think on their feet and take action without waiting for someone to tell them what to do. This type of flexibility and courage pushes teams and organisations to become innovative.

Self-Awareness and Self-Development

Finally, the last competency group in the Grow and Develop assessment is Self-Development. We know that we learn differently from each other, and self-development is no different. Some of you will learn self-knowledge faster through specific guidance, while some will learn better through self-exploration. It’s a simple fact that we all have different personalities and need unique input for our self-development. Self-awareness in this area means that you can identify what and how you might learn self-development in the best way that suits you, and that’s pretty important if you’re going through a personal development journey or a plan, especially with a coachee. As a coach, work out how a person likes to learn but, more importantly, how they like to learn self-development aspects. 

Stress: Causes and Relievers

Stress is an important topic regarding work and the workplace. There is still a debate over the exact definition is of stress. However, what’s important to understand is that it’s how our bodies and minds respond to stimuli, things like events or situations that are either perceived or real. So that means what causes one person’s stress does not necessarily do so for another. Remember, not all stress is bad. Some stress can be motivating, and it’s that kind of stress that keeps us moving forward. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle though all too often characterised by distress rather than stress in some way. 

Stress awareness is one of the least understood in the workplace. I often hear people say, ‘gosh, that stresses me out’, but they have no idea why it did or never learned how to manage or alleviate it. The Grow and Develop assessment includes all the three factors of stress, the causes, signs, and stress release. Stress awareness is a valuable part of self-knowledge. Know your triggers and work to alleviate them where possible.

As you can see on the slide (23:02), there is a graphic called the Overuse Diamond. We all tend to be very aware of some of our most used strength areas. So, people always tend to be surprised when I train this aspect of overuse. When we emphasise our strengths so much, we overuse them, and they become a hindrance. Others can get very frustrated or even hinder your progress or progression at work. If ever there is a big blind spot in people’s self-awareness, this tends to be it. 

We feel comfortable using our strengths, but we don’t realise how blind we can be to how frequently we’re emphasising them. The other area in which we do this is when we are under pressure. Under pressure, we tend to emphasise strengths that we are comfortable using. For example, an I style is open, and they naturally like to engage with people and can be quite naturally persuasive. I see it repeatedly that under pressure or high emotion, they can become highly disruptive in a team. They can become very indiscreet with the message or information that they’re talking about or giving away. In addition, the emotionally charged I style can start sub teaming behind the scenes as they are naturally persuasive with people. Get to know your areas of overuse, realise when you might be doing it and under what sort of circumstances. This can lead to great self-awareness as it also helps change how others see you.

Self-Awareness in a Team

Self-awareness in a team is essential. We should all know what we bring to a team, such as our DISC team role, strengths, and challenges. There is nothing better to watch a high-performing team in action when team members utilise their strengths, work with their preferred role, or are paired with a convergent or complementary style that they are consciously aware of how to work with. The team page in the Grow and Develop assessment looks at aspects of a team, all broken down. I find this quite fantastic to coach with, especially in leadership or designing a team. There’s some great information in here, especially under the improving your performance heading. 

Today I wanted to demonstrate some of the differences in the Grow and Develop assessment. They’re subtle differences, but when you’re coaching, a team leader or on your personal development journey, this information is vital for self-knowledge, especially if you apply it quickly and effectively while it’s lumped into very practical information such as Grow and Develop assessment.

360 Feedback for Self-Awareness

We have focused on self-awareness today, and all that we have talked about so far is related to internal self-awareness. However, there are two self-awareness factors, the second being external self-awareness. Let’s look at that now. Learning about your external input can take self-knowledge to the next level. You can gain external feedback by using a 360 feedback assessment from FinxS. 

So, what is a 360 feedback report? It’s not part of the behaviour assessment. It’s a very different tool with a set of different questions. It let’s direct reports, managers, and peers answer a series of questions, usually anonymously, about you. Those questions can relate to behaviour, skills or competencies. The people assessing you tend to be from all the different hierarchical levels. So the result tends to be quite well-rounded feedback as to how others might perceive you. The results can highlight areas like blind spots. These are areas or things we really might not see about ourselves, but others see and might have an opinion on. These blind spots can also outline when we might be being a bit too critical of ourselves. Either way, the feedback can be illuminating at times a bit confronting, but opinions matter, so we need to consider them as part of our learning. A 360 feedback report delivered effectively can be incredible for self-development and self-awareness, especially in leadership development. Contact the HR Profiling team if you would like to explore the use of 360 assessments in your organisation. 

Today I’ve highlighted the importance of self-awareness in the workplace. Understanding ourselves, including how we interact with others, helps us understand our impact on those around us, whether it’s a team, clients or even family members. Many tend to stop their self-awareness journey at the internal stage. They enjoy analysing a profile or assessment and gaining self-knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with that, and this stage can take quite a while, depending on your learning style. However, external self-awareness and the perception of others is highly valuable for self-development. Whether those perceptions are accurate or inaccurate, they often impact our success levels and need to be taken on board too. Extended DISC® and HR Profiling can offer you tools covering both aspects of self-awareness, such as the Grow and Develop assessment for internal and the open 360 feedback report for external. Using these two tools together can give you a powerful tool for your self-awareness journey. I highly recommend both these tools when creating personal development plans and assessments throughout a year’s journey with a client or employee.