“The best mirror is an old friend.” — George Herbert
The more you know about yourself, the more you can skillfully motivate yourself, play to your strengths, limit your liabilities, and make the most of any situation.
Socrates taught us to “Know thyself” … but how?
What are some of the more effective ways we can learn about our patterns for thinking, feeling, and doing?
10 Tools to Know Yourself with Skill
Here are some of the tools, lenses, and techniques that I’ve found to be helpful for self-awareness:
1. Abstract, Concrete, Random, Sequential
Are you comfortable learning abstract concepts or do you prefer concrete examples? Do you prefer to follow information sequentially or do you prefer a more random approach? Dr. Anthony F. Gregorc identified 4 learning styles: Abstract Concrete, Abstract Sequential, Concrete Random, and Concrete Sequential. Think about how you can use this for structuring your own learning approach or how you can tailor your approach when you interact with others. See Links on Abstract/Random/Concrete/Sequential.
2. The 5 Thinking Styles
How do you make sense of the world? Your thinking style can help explain why you think or act the way you do. In Coping with Difficult Bosses, Richard Bramson identified five thinking styles: Synthesist, Idealist, Pragmatic Thinker, Analyst Thinker, Realist Thinker . Synthesists are creative thinkers that thinks in terms of opposites. Idealists believe in lofty goals and high standards. Pragmatic thinkers are interested in practical, short-term results. Analyst thinkers are methodical, and pay attention to accuracy and detail. Realists thinkers are doers that base reality on whatever their senses – sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch – tell them it is.
3. The Satir Categories
The Satir Categories explain how you use language. Virginia Satir was one of the most effective family therapists ever and NLP adopted the Satir Categories for improving communication effectiveness. The Satir Categories are: Blamer, Placater, Computer, Distracter, and Leveler. The Blamer blames other people. The Placater wants to make everybody happy and avoids conflict. The Distracter distracts people from the issue and uses generalizations instead of specifics. The Leveler stays congruent and is focused on the facts.
4. The 7 NLP Meta-programs
Metaprograms are simply your default patterns in strategies or thinking styles In Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement, Tony Robbins identifies 7 NLP Meta-programs: Towards or Away, External or Internal, Sorting By Self or Sorting by Others, Matcher or Mismatcher, Convincer Strategy, Possibility vs. Necessity, Independent, Cooperative and Proximity Working Styles.
5. The 6 Styles Under Stress
When you know your style under stress, you can recognize it and choose a more effective approach. In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, identify 6 styles under stress: Masking, Avoiding, Withdrawing, Controlling, Labeling, Attacking. Masking is understating or selectively showing your true opinions. Avoiding is shying away from sensitive topics. Withdrawing is existing a conversation or exiting a room. Controlling is coercing others to your opinion. Labeling is putting a label on people or ideas so you can dismiss them as a stereotype or category. Attacking is belittling or threatening.
6. The Lens of Human Understanding
Do you tend to focus more on task or people? Do you tend to act more aggressively or passively? In Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst, Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner offer a simple model for understanding behavior: Task Focus, People Focus, Aggressive, and Passive.
7. The Johari Window
The Johari Window, created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, is a model for knowing and sharing yourself with skill. It consists of four quadrants: Open Self, Blind Self, Hidden Self, Unknown Self. The Open Self is what others know about you and you know too. Blind Self is what others know about you, but you don’t. Hidden Self is what others don’t know about you, but you do. Unknown Self is what others don’t know about you, and you don’t either.
8. The 10 Types of Difficult People
What are some difficult behaviors that might cause others to think of you as a difficult person? If you know what these patterns are you can change them or respond more effectively. In Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst, Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner identify 10 types of difficult people patterns: Tank, Sniper, Know-It-All, Think-They-Know-It-All, Grenade Person, Yes Person, Maybe Person, Nothing Person, No Person, Whiners.
9. The 16 Myers-Briggs Type Indicators
The Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) is a lens for understanding your behavior based on four pairs of preferences: extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and judgment vs. perception. Extraversion and introversion are where you draw energy from. Sensing and intuition are how you gather and perceive information. Thinking and feeling are how you make decisions. Judging and perception are how you relate to the outside world.
10. Discover your “Why”
Why do you do what you do? When you know your purpose, you know when you’re on path or when you’re off and it’s easier for you to summon your inner strength and live your values. It’s also a way to keep your thinking, feeling, and doing congruent. See Discover Your Why.
Photo by Tina Keller.