Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Can You Teach Awareness?

Awareness: 1) Having knowledge; conscious; cognizant; 2) Informed; alert; knowledgeable; sophisticated.

What is awareness?

It is the ability to sense your surroundings, being attuned to the signals from the environment. Unless you focus on your body, you may not be aware of too many things that may affect you. Physiological needs like hunger, thirst, the heat, cold and pain can arouse our attention.

I have noticed that some people are not aware of their own presence. They are not cognizant of how they may be physically too near a person, or if they invade another person’s personal space. Just tonight, an elderly lady bumped into me as she walked and did not apologise or even notice my presence. Apparently, I was not part of the information her brain collected.

I have encountered Learning Objectives that include ‘Be aware of…’ or 'Develop awareness in...' How do you teach awareness? After all, it is an individual’s choice to be focused about themselves and on others. You will not be aware of something unless you know what you are looking for. Your knowledge of first aid is only useful when you are aware that a person is injured, or not responsive to stimuli. The guides of ABC (Airway, Breathing and Circulation) are only relevant when you conduct the diagnostics. Without such knowledge, we may not be aware if it may be an emergency situation.

Yoga practitioners focus on their breathing and how their body responses to postures. You can be aware of your physical discomfort, or you focus on your breathing. When you are focused on one area, you may miss other areas. Oftentimes, when we are confused or panic, we lose awareness of certain things. Thus, you may be unaware of other sources of information and stimuli that may be present. So, awareness is a form of presence of mind.

Teachers are important in your study of your awareness. Until your swim coach points out your unnatural swimming style, you may not be aware of the degree of corrections you have to make to your swim-strokes. Unless you can identify and calibrate a person’s tells, you may not really know if they are being honest. If your interviewing skills are not thorough and comprehensive, you may lack the awareness of whether your staff is ready for a promotion, or yearn for a switch of departments.

Thus, it is important to be aware of your immediate environment. More importantly, it is vital to relate to the people around you. They have their awareness about us, which may be our blind spots.

Are you aware of how your staff feels about your management style?

What is your awareness of the changes in your marketplace?

How aware are you about the unspoken language of dissent in your company?

Are you aware of what is available on the company’s grapevine?

Are you aware of the concerns that your team has about the implementation of the new initiative?

If you are not aware, then you are not. Start noticing. Leaders have strong presence of mind.

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