Are you too busy to develop self awareness?

When I go on conferences, business talks or parties and meet people, they ask me what my profession is and I tell them that I am an Executive Coach. When I mention I  specialise in self awareness and conflict management, they usually answer quite quickly, saying: “I have no conflicts!”  My reply is: “Oh, that’s great for you! I have my first conflict in the morning, when my alarm clock rings at 6.00 a.m., telling me, it is time to get up.”

It is really time to wake up and get a realistic view that throughout the day we all are dealing with a lot of conflict situations. Conflicts come around whether we are working in a money-oriented business structure and/or running a relationship-oriented family business with our husband or wife, kids, parents, friends or other connections. Developing self awareness around these situations can help to reduce conflicts and tensions.

The road to success and happiness

There is no doubt that for humans whether consciously or unconsciously, success and happiness are our goals. On the way to achieving these goals, we have to manage a lot of situations which are unsatisfying and difficult.

When I am working with clients and during our sessions, when they have time and space to talk openly, people usually become increasingly transparent, talking about self awareness, conflict situations and difficult people they have to deal with. While in the coaching session, I focus my clients on conflict management.  This is about developing resilience and finding solutions for a healthy mindset. It is always interesting for me to listen carefully to my clients during the first sessions. Usually, they talk a lot about other people, especially one or two who are like “red rags ” in their eyes.

Unguided missiles

One of my clients was talking about “unguided missiles “. This is a quite good picture to describe a horrible situation in a business context in which he was working.  Some other examples of disruptive or conflict situations I’ve heard from clients are:

  • conflicted meetings which they describe like a “battlefield
  • harsh and demeaning words used in meetings, conversations
  • people answering like a commander before they have fully listened to clients
  • ignorance
  • arrogant and demeaning behaviour

All these are situations which can be described as missile behaviour. Often when clients experience such behaviour at work and they are also experiencing personal struggles it can all just get too much.  Such pressure can lead to an unbalanced mindset where innovative thinking, productive doing and happy feelings, as well as wellbeing, end up going down the drain.

Finding ways to manage conflicted situations

1. Develop observing skills

Being an observer creates a psychological shift from being the actor in the play (the experiencer) to being the person watching the play (the observer).  When you master this shift you enable yourself to pause and detach yourself from the situation.  Being detached and unemotional means your mind is free to consider options and widen the possibilities of deciding what the situation means for you.

2. Develop self awareness

Once you have practised being an observer, you can become a master at self awareness. You can do this by reflecting.  Reflective thinking is like a muscle and can be developed.  Reflecting means to not only reflect on the behaviour of those involved in conflicted situations, but also on your own behaviours and reactions.  Sometimes writing down how you feel and how you want to instinctively react is powerful.  This helps to get the emotion out of the situation and means you can consider alternative responses which may be more effective.

3. Develop resilience

Developing resilience means you can cope better with situations.  Like building a muscle, resilience can be learned and mastered and grown.   Allowing yourself to observe and reflect and become aware of your own feelings, thoughts and reactions give you the power to choose a response.  Resilience simply means choosing a response which honours you, and when truly mastered honours the other or others too.  This means you take considered action once you are free of any emotional burn.

When you are experiencing missile behaviour, you need to find a way to observe, reflect and then develop a response that both honours yourself and the other people involved.  That may mean temporarily or permanently removing yourself from a situation which does not honour you.  These three simple skills are essential if we are to develop self awareness and take the road to success and happiness.

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Barbara Landers-Schultz

Working with EY, Arthur D. Little, Inc and in Top Management position, Barbara Landers-Schultz developed MHCM™ – Mental Health Care Management for Leaders to accompany clients in unfolding their potential and in conflict and crisis situations in particular in keeping their autonomy and individual charisma. She is working as a counselor,coach and pschotherapist. Furthermore she is Director at Institute for Leadership Dynamics GmbH in Berlin responsible for Mental Health Care and conflict resolution.