ATD Blog

Self-Awareness: The First Step to Mastering EQ

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Welcome to our continuing conversation about the importance of social and emotional intelligence (SEI) in the success of our professional careers.

Last month I encouraged you to think about the EQ smart people you have known at work and the impact they have made in their colleagues’ engagement, performance, and ultimately in the company’s bottom line. By watching SEI in action we can see the positive and powerful ripple effect of understanding and using one’s emotions wisely in the workplace.

And then I challenged you on a more personal level. I asked you to rate yourself honestly in the four SEI areas: self-awareness, self-management, other awareness/empathy, and relationship management. If you are like me, I certainly have lots of strengths, some blind spots, and a number of areas that could be improved because of their potential positive impact in the executive career coaching and corporate training that I love to do.

So let’s work on enhancing our SEI together by starting with our “self-awareness.” This is the cornerstone of all social and emotional intelligence. Nothing can happen without strong self-awareness; we can’t manage our own behavior effectively at work, connect and communicate with our colleagues, or even build productive working relationships without self-awareness.


But what is self-awareness? Here’s a definition, which draws from the latest SEI research: Emotional self-awareness is the ability to tune in to your own emotions “in the moment,” be able to name these feelings accurately, connect them to their sources, recognize how they impact your effectiveness in life, and finally be able to use these emotions as a valuable source of insight and information about yourself.


Now that we know what self-awareness is and how important it is to our professional careers, let’s take it up a notch and challenge ourselves to improve in this area starting today. Here’s how to get started with three easy steps.

  1. Check in with yourself several times a day and name how you are feeling in that moment.
  2.  Identify what the source of the feeling is – what is triggering it? (The source is often tied to your values.)
  3. Ask yourself: “Is this feeling serving me well at this time”? (Be willing to learn.)

You have an excellent start here. Let’s continue our conversation next month with my SEI blog post on how to use your own new stronger self-awareness to self-manage your emotions and behavior at work each day. See you then.

About the Author

Katherine (Kit) Prendergast, PCC, holds coaching certifications in Social & Emotional Intelligence (SEI); Executive Leadership Development (CELDC), and Career Management (CCMC). As the owner of Career Connections of Sierra Nevada, a well-established coaching and training company in Northern Nevada, Kit brings  a wealth of experience, expertise, and energy to inspire you to create the life you truly want at this time. She welcomes coaching and training clients nationally and internationally. 

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