In this article we’re going to explore a bit more deeply the phenomenon of self awareness and how that relates to our overall and ongoing process of communication.
Self Awareness & Perception Awareness
Most of you know that I’m a teacher and it’s the beginning of the new school year…! One of the first lessons of the year focuses on “professionalism.” We first define the term, we attempt to understand it, and we revisit it continuously throughout the year as we attempt to live it – at least for an hour a day, that is. My students have little experience with the working world, so during our process of defining the term, I find it helpful to incorporate a sports analogy. The professional athlete is someone many students can relate to and quite a few even aspire to be one. The professional athlete is expected to perform at his or her highest level at all times. They are expected to respectfully wear the uniform of their team and comport themselves in a respectful, polished manner. Even aggressive sports like football more often than not produce players who show high levels of professionalism on and off the field. After our discussion, we come up with a simple definition for professionalism that will guide us through to the end of the school year (and hopefully beyond): Doing our best, trying our hardest, at all times, in all ways.
Unless the student is a senior who realizes that their high school career will soon be over, it’s difficult for students to find the desire and the motivation to give one hundred percent 100% of the time. I expect them to (well, maybe 90% of the time) because that’s my job, but I’m not shocked when it doesn’t always happen. These are not professionals in my classroom (yet). However, we treat this room as an office where professionalism abounds. That includes constant, loving reminders to the students regarding language, dress, and behavior. The love is necessary otherwise the corrections can result in defiance.
While in this “professional” environment, one or our main, though less obvious goals for the year is the awareness of our actions and of our plain “beingness” – how we are being perceived as we are just being us. As we’ve mentioned numerous times in several articles, when we are among others, we are always communicating – always. Even if we’re just standing or sitting there in the room, we are communicating through our posture and our facial expression, through our dress and our actions. A former teaching colleague of mine (who happened to be a retired naval commander who was challenged by the fact that when he gave orders to students, they didn’t always obey…!) offered the phrase “perception awareness” when considering this phenomenon. He often offered remarks such as, “These kids do not possess any perception awareness,” meaning that the students don’t realize what they’re communicating. They don’t understand how it appears to their co-workers or to the boss when they lower their adjustable office chairs to the ground and type on a keyboard looking like a biker riding on his chopper. They don’t understand what they’re communicating when their pants ride around their thighs or when their skirts barely cover them. They don’t understand how their clothes, makeup, hair, odor, speech, writing, resumes all combine to form an amalgam that is perceived as who they are. Is this really who they are?
The first step to success in the working world, not only for these kids but for every one of us, is this perception awareness. How are we being perceived? What are we communicating? This is not to be construed with any kind of debilitating self-consciousness. We just need to understand the affect we have on our environment and those in our environment just through our being there. There is ultimate power in our presence and when we are aware of it and can access it, anything is possible.
So that’s it for perception awareness and self awareness. If you are interested in becoming more aware of your self you might want to practice some of the exercises on The Best Communication Activities page. Many of those exercises can be adapted to individual self awareness activities. Check out some of the other articles on site, including Models of Communication, for more self awareness theory. As always, please drop us an email if you have comments or questions. We’re getting spammed to death, so we’ve disconnected the commenting abilities. Also, please share this article on your favorite forums and social media.