The Self-Awareness Guy

Leadership, Empathy and Workplace Relationships

It’s easy to become so focused on your own perspective that you forget that other people exist and you become a benevolent Tyrannosaurus walking around telling people what they should think and do.  This approach works really well if you have a workplace where only you work there but is less effective if anyone else is involved.  A lot of the interpersonal issues that arise in the workplace are due to leadership that doesn’t understand that people perform better when they’re listened to, valued and understood; treated with empathy.

In workplace relationships, walking in someone else’s shoes can help you practice empathy towards others and understand them better.  Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s experience and point of view and it’s useful in the workplace because it allows for deeper interactions and connecting with people on a meaningful level.

In various leadership workshops, participants ask me why their employees or c0-workers behave a certain ways and what they can do about it.  This is a great opportunity to introduce the idea that they can put themselves in that person’s shoes and learn about them without projecting their own needs and ideas on them.  Try a few of the following things to increase your empathic ability:

  1. Listen actively without talking.
  2. Put yourself in that person’s situation and imagine you’re going through the same thing.
  3. Ask questions that allow the person to tell you more about himself or herself instead of yes and no questions.
  4. Keep in mind that what you’re hearing isn’t about you; it’s about them.
  5. Try to accept anything the person says as simply their reality rather than something you have to react to.

Try these ideas over a period of time.  Empathy is about really understanding that there are other valid points of view in the world.  Those perspectives may not be yours but they mean as much to the other person as your worldview does to you.

Once you’re able to connect with someone else’s reality, you’re on your way to genuinely understanding other people and showing them that you respect their point of view and experience.  The result will be that you’ll connect with people more easily and work with them more effectively.  Imagine a workplace where you actually understand why people do the things they do.  What will you do to practice empathy in your workplace?

Take care,


Self-Awareness and Your Quality of Life

Your level of self-awareness greatly affects your quality of life. The more you’re in touch with why you think, feel and do the things you do, the more consciously and happily you can live. Consider these two examples of people with different perspectives:

  1. Person A goes through life appearing to be confident, is outwardly successful, seems to have everything anyone would dream of having but is deeply insecure and realizes it’s all a mirage.
  2. Person B lives life with confidence, sometimes has doubts and shows vulnerability, but when he (or she) looks in the mirror, he knows he’s looking at a real person who is living authentically.

The difference between these two examples is that one person has to pretend to be someone else. Genuine fulfillment and happiness arise from looking at your strengths and areas for improvement and continuously working on being the real you inside and outside. What will you do to live a quality life?

Take care,


What is Your Dream Life?

Our dreams are a reflection of who we really are. I’m not talking about the dreams where you are riding a horse through the shopping mall, these are the dreams about what you really want to do with your life. These dreams come from a genuine place inside you and reflect your true self. Perhaps they link you to when you were a child and wished you would be an actor or when you graduated from high school and anticipated being a great mathematician.

Then life gets in the way but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can literally tap into your dreams at any time and give them the prominent place in your life that they deserve. Ask yourself the following questions as you connect with what you really want to do with your life.

1. If money or subsistence were of no concern, what would I do with my life above all else?

2. What am I really good at that brings me joy and I could do forever?

3. What career path would bring me true joy in life?

4. What can I do for hours without thinking about time?

The answers to these questions will help you start steering your life toward what you really want to do. You call the shots and get to decide in what direction you move. You choose whether you follow the path toward your dreams or follow an alternate course. I wish you great success in your journey.

Take care,


The Difference Between Team Building and Team Bonding

I facilitate many team building workshops and the participants sometimes get confused when they realize they aren’t going to be climbing a tree or catching each other as they fall backward. It’s a natural reaction because a lot of what is presented as team building might actually be team bonding. Here’s the difference:

Team Building

  • Focuses on behaviors and their effect on workplace functioning.
  • Helps people learn how to work with each other and get along well.
  • Builds skills like communication, planning, problem-solving and conflict resolution.
  • Builds empathy and compassion.
  • Encourages long-term behavior change.
  • Helps people build genuine connections.
  • Is practiced over time.
  • Encourages deeper discussion and processing.

Team Bonding

  • Focus on fun activities.
  • Brings people together by encouraging collaboration and teamwork.
  • Helps people see each other in a different light.
  • Allows people to connect in a different setting.
  • Usually a one-time activity.
  • Helps people get out of the workplace and relax.
  • Encourages people to have fun together.
  • Sometimes asks people to think about the implications of the activities on their workplace.

Both approaches are valid and have their strengths. The major difference is that team building is a long-term process that creates behavioral change while team bonding tends to be a short-term, fun experience. If you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up then team bonding is your thing. If you’re looking at foundation building and long-term change then team building will help you get there.

As a leader, you get to choose what kind of workplace you create. I’ve found that highly successful (and happy) organizations commit to a long-term team building approach that helps people think and behave in ways that benefit them and their work environment. Learning effective team building takes time and effort but it creates lasting success and a company culture that encourages positive behaviors. What will you do to practice effective team building in your organization?

Take care


Self-Awareness and Thinking about Others

Perhaps you’ve met individuals who assure you they possess self-awareness and then trample all over other people. It’s like the boss who says she’s wonderful and caring and shouts at her employees or the husband who says he’s a great guy but does things that deeply hurt his spouse.

When you have a high level of self-awareness you naturally think about others. The more comfortable and knowledgeable you are about what drives your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, the more likely you will be to feel happy and balanced and treat other people in a caring, compassionate way. If you solely care about your money, your power, your own success, your immediate needs, your safety, or your own point of view, you’re less likely to think about other people.

The key to living a genuinely fulfilling, happy life is to realize that you can take care of yourself and others, not just one or the other. As you become healthier and more tuned in to who you are deep inside, you’re much more likely to help others do the same. What will you do to keep building your self-awareness and thinking about others?

Take care,