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Got Blind Spots?

Blind spots. We all have them, some more than others. You know what they are – those areas that we don’t realize we are impacting others in an unintended way, but everyone else knows about them. They are so easy to spot in other people – the individual that thinks they are a great communicator, but everyone is frustrated with how much they lack the ability to communicate; or the individual that states they aren’t a perfectionist after they nitpick everything in a report you sent them; or the person that jumps in, constantly interrupting you to finish your sentences, as they are boasting about what a good listener they are. Here’s the scary part though – we have them as well, others know about them, but we are blind to them – which is why they are called blind spots. We don’t want to fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger Effect right? That’s where the least competent people tend to be the most confident in their abilities.

So how do we become more aware of our blind spots? Well, let’s first define three areas where we can have a pretty big blind spot. These were identified by Dr. Tasha Eurich in her book, Insight. They are:

Knowledge Blindness: This is when we have a general belief about our abilities and we apply it to a specific situation. Such as, “I’m good at math, so I’d be a good analyst or researcher.” Or “I’m good at being innovative so I’d be a good entrepreneur.”

Emotion Blindness: This is when we think we are very carefully and logically deciding, but ultimately, it is our “gut” or intuition that makes the decision.

Behavior Blindness: This is the inability to see our own behavior as clearly and objectively as others can see it. For example, giving a presentation and thinking you bombed it when it was very well received by the audience. Or the opposite – thinking you aced a job interview when you really did a poor job.

Regardless of which areas our blind spots fall in, there are some strategies for becoming more aware of them. Again, these are from the research conducted by Dr. Eurich and her team.

  1. Identify and confront your assumptions – this is easy to say and very hard to do. An example of this strategy in action would be to question whether you’d truly be a good entrepreneur if you’re innovative in nature. You could identify a self-assessment online about what it takes to be an entrepreneur (there are several) and take it with extreme honesty.
  2. Keep learning – especially in those areas you think you already know a lot. This is a big one for me – since I speak about self-awareness and teach it in the classroom, I am constantly reading as much as I can on the subject as new research comes out each month.
  3. Seek feedback on your abilities and behaviors – this means asking folks to provide you with honest feedback on your performance, how you communicate, or in whatever other areas you believe you may have a blind spot. This also means to make sure you surround yourself with people that will tell you the truth and find ways to make it easier for them to be honest with you as us humans generally have trouble both giving and receiving critical feedback.

There you have it folks – different ways we can be blind to our impact on others and strategies for putting the spot light on those blind spots. This takes courage AND I know you can do it!

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