3 Self-Awareness Exercises to Build Emotional Intelligence

August 24, 2021

Many people assume that self-awareness comes naturally, but having a heightened sense of your emotional well-being can be a challenge for many of us.

Luckily, with practice and training, you can learn to increase your self-awareness and knowledge, and find healthy and positive ways to reframe your thoughts, feelings, actions, and responses to others.

What is Self-Awareness?

“Awareness” is knowing what’s happening around you, while “self-awareness” is knowing what you’re experiencing and having the ability to understand why we do the things we do.

There’s a large body of research that shows the range of unconscious biases and blind spots people have. In the bestselling book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman shows that, despite our confidence in our own self-knowledge, we’re usually wrong.

Why Do We Lack Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness, like any skill, needs to be developed through four stages starting with unconscious incompetence. Think of this as when we first try riding a bike or learning a new instrument: that lack of knowledge is unconscious incompetence in action.

Unfortunately because of the discomfort unconscious incompetence can cause most people go through life without developing their self-awareness. 

However, studies have shown a strong link between self-awareness and high emotional intelligence, making self-awareness a critical skill for both personal and professional success.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

“Emotional intelligence” (or EQ) refers to our ability to recognize, understand, manage, and reason with our emotions.

As workplaces become more diverse, emotional intelligence had become a must-have skill for both employees and leaders alike. 

In fact, EQ is so important that a survey of over 500 HR managers found that skills like resilience, trustworthiness, and confidence ranked as “more important” than experience and education.

Luckily, there are a multitude of self-awareness exercises designed to increase our resilience and emotional intelligence. Here are three to get you started:

1. Take Time to Understand Your Temperament

A good way to assess your self-awareness is to perform temperament analysis on yourself. Temperament is made up of feelings and tendencies that are influenced by four factors, which are:

  1. Genetic inheritance
  2. Physical attributes
  3. Lite experiences
  4. Environmental conditions

Tob get a better understanding of your own temperament, try answering some of these questions:

  • Which three adjectives best describe your overall temperament?
  • Using the three answers, compare how much each one is driven by one of the four factors listed above
  • Ask yourself: how do these factors impact me on a personal level?
  • Then ask: which of these factors do you want to change, and why?

2. Regulate Your Emotions With Healthy Responses

It’s no secret that accepting criticism can be difficult, especially when the criticism makes us feel defensive and evokes strong emotional reactions.

For example, when someone says something like:

  • You don’t understand
  • You disrespect others’ time
  • You don’t take responsibility

Respond with:

  • Yes, I don’t understand
  • Yes, I can be disrespectful of others’ time
  • Yes, I don’t take responsibility

By learning to accept criticism without taking it to heart, you can not only disarm the person criticizing you, but you can also learn to regulate your emotions in difficult situations in the future.

Invest in your personal growth and click here to sign up for our resilience training programs.

3. Do an Emotional Intelligence Assessment

Leaders are tasked with shaping, communicating, and guiding their organization towards success, but too often a lack of self-awareness can get in the way of those goals.

One of the easiest ways to identify gaps in your self-awareness is to invest in emotional intelligence assessments and coaching. You can also start by reviewing this list of negative behaviours and rating yourself on a scale from “rarely” to “often”:

  • I lead lead by example and “walk the talk”
  • I stay focused on one task at a time and don’t stretch myself too thin
  • I give regularly clear, consistent direction 
  • I praise others for their efforts and contributions often
  • I take responsibility for failure and accept me role in every outcome, good or bad
  • I regularly show personal commitment to others and our shared goals

If you find yourself replying “rarely” then that’s a good indication that your self-awareness and EQ are low.

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence Today

By taking the time to reflect, learn, and grow, you can develop your self-awareness and enhance your emotional intelligence to manage stressful situations, develop deeper relationships, and react to conflict in healthier ways.

Start today by registering for our leadership development program and learn your true capabilities, beliefs, and attitudes. You can also subscribe to our newsletter for tips and resources just like this one. Click here to join our mailing list of +1200 subscribers.