Currently, I have to deal with someone on a regular basis that is completely unaware of how they come off and who unknowingly operates under a skewed sense of reality.
In order to cope with this, I’ve tried all sorts of things. I’ve discovered over time that really, there’s only one way to deal with people who lack self-awareness.
The best way to deal with someone like this is to be aware of your reaction to how they are. Once you are aware of how you are, you can make changes in yourself that help you work more powerfully with someone’s lack of self-awareness.
In this article, I will cover the Major signs of a lack of awareness and cover the things that I’ve tried that don’t work when dealing with someone unaware of themselves.
The old serenity poem talks about understanding the differences between what you can control and what you can’t control. “Other people” fall squarely in the category of something you cannot control. You cannot control others, you can only control your reaction to them. Understand that many people aren’t really connected to how their behaviors influence their environment.
When you’re dealing with a jerk, it is natural for our defense mechanisms to be triggered. Your fight or flight response can be set off, and your own self-awareness may fail.
The Problem isn’t Always a Lack of Self Awareness
I sometimes carry around a special coin. On one side of the coin it has the word “react” engraved on it, and on the other side “respond.” I keep it with me so that I ask myself if I am reacting or responding to a person who appears to be unaware of their behavior.
The process of going through these questions will reveal whether or not I am also possibly not being self-aware, and it helps me to identify what is mine to own in the situation. In other words, what am I contributing that may lead to discord?
The Display of a Complete Lack of Awareness
Psych2go did quite a bit of research on meta-cognition which is a higher level of thinking (thinking about thinking). It’s the ability to think about what you are thinking about. They created a video covering the 10 major signs of a lack of self-awareness.
Here are 10 signs you lack self-awareness
I’ve summarized them as follows
- Low EI or a low level of emotional intelligence
- Often found shutting others down and lack of communication
- Blame others (and unaware of the impact)
- Lack of empathy
- Can’t explain the reasons behind their own actions and cannot analyze themselves from an outside point of you
- Suppressed emotions and operate in denial
- Lack of the ability to see personal limitations and weaknesses
- A lack of knowing who you are and self-identity
- Get off task
- Trouble with scheduling and time management
Tasha Eurich is an author of a book entitled “Insight.”
She was a keynote speaker on Ted talks and went over the concepts of self-awareness. After spending thousands of hours researching and analyzing data she discovered that self-awareness only shows up in about 10 to 15% of the population.
However, when polled 95% of people believe that they are self-aware.
Further, she explained that people that lack self-awareness tend to ask themselves the question of “why” which tends to lead you further away from being self-aware, and instead people that are actually quite self-aware will ask themselves the question of “what.”
What causes Lack of Self Awareness?
I think a lot of times that we would like to quickly diagnose a person that we don’t get along with as a narcissist or as having some sort of lack of self-awareness.
But the reality is that we can often be shortsighted when it comes to understanding others. A lot of times if they don’t agree with our way of thinking or our perspective, we want to write off their behavior and label them. It’s important to take a moment for self-reflection in these cases.
One great way to become more self-aware is to pretend that you are outside of your body watching yourself. Then, take note of what you notice. Suppose you are driving, pretend you are outside the car traveling alongside the car, and just notice yourself.
Eckhard Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” encourages readers to notice the “I” that notices itself. It argues that there are 2 layers of the human experience. Just like Meta-cognition, which is thinking about ourselves thinking or how we think. Recognizing this can be a massive step in developing self-awareness.
Think about what is going on and what it looks like from the outside. If you had a mediator come into a situation you are faced with, who was unbiased, what would they think about the situation?
Communication is always a result of a hidden commitment.
If I tell my child that I don’t want him to play outside it’s not because I don’t want him to have fun, rather, it is because I don’t wanna see him get hit by a car. Unfortunately, my child can’t see the commitment, and only hears my dad doesn’t want me to have fun.
So when you were looking at what causes the lack of self-awareness, you will want to also take inventory of your own emotions. What are your agendas?
Start looking for the hidden commitment behind the messages you send and the messages of others.
Why is it important for you to get your way in a very specific situation?
Try to determine whether or not the person that is rubbing you the wrong way, is really someone who is lacking in self-awareness or whether they have a hidden commitment that you might not be aware of.
Once you’ve done this, and you’re pretty clear on the fact that the person is being unreasonable, don’t be surprised. As we learned from the Ted talks 95% of people lack developed self-awareness.
Being able to see self objectively gives you superpowers.
Believe it or not, if you find that you were in an environment where there are many people that are lacking in self-awareness, you can actually start to see this as a superpower. Why? When you were self-aware you become more aware of others.
As you see the reasons and motivations behind your behaviors, you’ll be able to determine what the belief systems are behind others’ behaviors, such that, they are taking a set of actions.
I forget which book I read it in. But you can always use behaviors and actions and trace them back to core beliefs. For instance, if someone always has to be right, there must be a core belief in place that if they are wrong it would mean something traumatic for their ego.
I have found that as I become more aware of what drives me, I become hyper-aware of others. It also seems to be the especially yucky stuff that opens my eyes the most. For instance, if I find myself being manipulative, I recognize manipulation in others more easily.
We all want to think that we’re better than that., But I have found that in most cases human existence is quite similar. We are all capable I’m doing bad things. As you begin to love yourself for your weaknesses, you’ll begin to see others with a different set of eyes.
In my case, I have a young man in my life, Who many people don’t like that much. The funny thing is I really like the kid. The reason is he reminds me of me.
When I was his age I was quite self-centered and I lacked self-awareness and failed to understand just how self-centered I was. Everything felt like a surprise to me. When my girlfriend didn’t want to speak with me, when my friends didn’t want to hang out, and I wasn’t able to accomplish some of my goals, I didn’t realize what type of role my self-centeredness was playing. That is the hard part when it comes to self-awareness.
Start asking yourself the tough questions.
How can you help someone become self aware?
Self-awareness can’t really be taught unless the person really wants to learn and wants to do the heavy lifting and hard work of looking closely at their weaknesses and limitations.
So if you find yourself dealing with someone who is simply a jerk, take inventory of how you react and respond to their shenanigans.
It is helpful to set clear boundaries for yourself when it comes to people like this. But setting boundaries isn’t always as easy as you might think.
Self Aware and Setting Healthy Boundaries
So the only thing that you can control is your response to their lack of self-awareness. In reality, there is no real cause of the lack of awareness other than a lack of experience or the need to develop this skill.
What do you call someone who lacks self-awareness?
Generally speaking, it will depend on what type of negative behavior shows up due to the lack of awareness. Typically, you can refer to someone who lacks self-awareness as “disconnected.” Sometimes they are referred to as clueless, self-absorbed, mean, or abrasive.
If it is a clinical diagnosis such as no self-awareness disorder, it is typically referred to as: anosognosia.
How to Deal with Someone Who Lacks Self-Awareness in the Workplace
Dealing with office jerks–
So how do you effectively deal with office jerks? Yes, this is a skill worth its weight in gold. Office jerks know exactly how to push your buttons, and working with someone for extended amounts of time can be toxic.
So what can you do about it?
If people can’t get a rise out of you; usually they will give up trying to harass you. Begin to recognize what you contribute to the situation. Maybe you make yourself an easy target. Maybe you are asking for whatever this person is doing.
Of course, the safest advice is to have a conversation with human resources if it gets out of hand.
However, make sure that you’re willing to speak up.
Lately, I’ve been reading a book called not nice. In the book, the author talks about the difficulty that some of us have in asserting ourselves. We have difficulties in seeing how we’re feeling in a given situation. Paragraph suppose your boss wants to have a conversation, but you’re going to be late to an event.
What do you do? Do you stand around and have the conversation? Or do you clearly let your boss know that you have another engagement to get to?
Of us really want to seem rude, but there’s a fine line between stuffing your feelings, your needs, your wants, and your emotions,.
If you find yourself clearly inhibited when it comes to saying something that is important to you, you can be clear that you are struggling with self-expression.
If you’re struggling with self-expression, you were most likely stress stressing about you were perceived identity.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to be like just like anyone else. But, sometimes my I need to be light can actually stand in the way of really good things happening. For instance, I had a client who was quite difficult for me to manage. I found over time that I just sort of kept moving my boundaries closer and closer in. I had a problem expressing to the client that I could not work with them in the same way that I had previously.
On one hand, I was struggling emotionally with the situation and on the other, it was actually keeping me from earning a proper income as well. I realize that my need to be liked needed to be weighed against my bank account.
When I discovered that I really wasn’t being authentic with a client I got real with them. Once I got real with them I found a lot of freedom in discussing a new way to work together one that would work for them but one that would also work for me.
Your feelings matter. Do they matter to you? Do you value yourself enough to stand up and say what you need?
Setting healthy boundaries
Depending on your upbringing, you may find it difficult to set boundaries. I find that when I try to set boundaries with certain individuals they take it as a sign to charge the boundaries. Just simply recognize that people are going to try your boundaries a lot.
Recognize that when you are very specific and clear about where you begin an end and where your boundaries are and what you will all right and what you won’t tolerate, there will be individuals that want to push hard against them.
I find that if you hold the line long enough people will also fall in line. An example of this is how I work with my kids. Well I know that I’m probably not the most love dad, my kids like to test me. So in those cases, I realize it becomes a game of endurance. The question is how long can you outlast the person pushing against your boundaries?
It might be super uncomfortable, and you might be tempted to give in. But, if you give in, you are showing that person exactly at what point you will break. You’re communicating your breaking point and teaching them how to bound past your boundaries. It’s important in this case is to hold your ground.
Take some time and get clear on what you will tolerate and what you won’t tolerate. Write those things down. It’s important to write them down so that when someone presses against your boundaries you know they need to remain in place.
Otherwise, if you’re navigating on feelings alone, you might think oh well this doesn’t feel that bad, I’ll go along with what they want. However, this is a mistake. You need to make sure that you are clear on your own boundaries and that you hold the line.
Summary of how to deal with someone who isn’t very self aware
To summarize, first, make sure it isn’t you. Be clear that your only job is to take inventory of your own emotions. Your job is to be self-aware and to recognize what is motivating you and your discomfort in any given situation, whether it be in the workplace at home, or at play.
By doing so, you’ll be able to see your own behavior and beliefs objectively and see the behavior and beliefs of those around you more objectively. Pay close attention to the commitment behind what someone is saying.
This will rule out any real cause that they are trying to do harm. If they were involved in the game of asserting their will over yours, then you will have to practice holding your boundaries freeze in place.
Remember that boundaries and not being nice require endurance. It also goes without saying that if you are in a particularly toxic environment, and you don’t have the strength to make a difference in the environment, you’ll need to look for an alternative place for yourself.
This might mean changing jobs, moving, or finding a new group of friends. I’ll warn you, however, that if you take this road prematurely, chances are you will simply find someone similar in the next career position, relationship, or group of friends. It’s difficult when it is someone close to you, for example, if your husband lacks self-awareness (or your wife creates drama), it will require patience and communication to make positive changes.
I always feel that if we don’t figure it out the first time, we will be on the treadmill until we ultimately we learned our lesson.
Make sure to watch the videos that I’ve included in this article and share them on social media. I believe that this information should get out to a lot more people. The fact that you have made it this far and you continue to read to the end, tells me that you were someone who is committed and serious about living the life of your dreams and having relationships that work.
I applaud you for your efforts. Stay strong!