Have you ever had the uncomfortable experience of hearing your own recorded voice played back to you and thought, “Yikes, do I really sound like that?” We go through life hearing ourselves from the inside of our own heads. Yet, when we listen to a recording, we realize that we experience ourselves differently than those around us. It is helpful to expand this realization beyond just our physical voice and to consider how our entire approach is experienced by others. Left to ourselves, we often inaccurately assess how we impact the people around us. Da Vinci once said:
“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”
When we rely too much on our inner voice and our own opinions of our self, we lose our grasp on the reality around us and, essentially deceive ourselves. To overcome this deception and to truly develop, we must step out of our own opinions of ourselves and seek the truth as it is reflected off the world around us. To improve, we need feedback.
How To Leverage Feedback, Build Greater Self-Awareness, and Get Out of Your Own Head:
- Build healthy attitudes about feedback. Learn to seek, recognize, and appreciate feedback. You are a human being. You have ego and emotion that will try to protect your sense of self. This can make you resistant to feedback. Learn to recognize and manage your own defensiveness. At DecisionWise, we often use the SARA model to help those we coach recognize their emotions during feedback. SARA stands for Shock, Anger, Resistance, and Acceptance – stages that we see people pass through as they receive feedback.
- Regularly gather feedback through a 360 degree feedback instrument. The 360 approach helps you compare your perceptions with those of your supervisor, peers, direct reports and others. It is a great way to build self-awareness and provides unique opportunities for meaningful discussions afterward. In particular, 360 feedback is at its most powerful when it is effectively debriefed by a coach.
- Learn to be present. One of my favorite self-coaching questions is, “What experience am I creating?” You can apply this question in general, or in the current moment. For example, “What experience am I creating for my team this year?” or “What experience am I creating for the person I am talking to right now?” These questions can help you be present and give you the opportunity to create a deliberate experience.
It can be uncomfortable to step outside the comfort of our own opinions of ourselves and to understand the experience we are creating for others. However, it is necessary for real development. To grow we must be willing to hear our voice through the ears of others and to understand how they experience our interactions with them. If you aren’t getting the outcomes you were hoping for in your interaction with others, it could be time to step out of your own head.