We interact with people all day long. Some we know well, others we may only know casually. Yet, how often do you ask yourself: How well do I know myself? How aware am I of how I show up, how I impact others, and how I am impacted by others throughout the day?

In this Tip we are going to focus on you, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll discover something about yourself that you didn’t know and that will make the difference in that next interaction you have.

Let’s start with some questions only you can answer. Think about individuals you interact with regularly. These could include co-workers, a manager, a client, a partner, a child, a parent, or a best friend. Now, consider these questions:

    • What do others do that builds your trust in them? When you are trusting of others, how does that impact your work, relationships, and life?
    • What do others do that erodes your trust in them? When you don’t trust someone, what thoughts, feelings, and behaviors might you exhibit? How does a lack of trust impact your ability to work and be in a relationship with another person?
    • What do others do that causes you to become reactive or get upset? When you get upset or reactive, what happens inside of you? Do your thoughts or emotions run wild? Does your body physically react in some way, such as feeling flushed, feeling your heart beating, or some part of you becoming constricted? How do you typically deal with this reactivity? Do you get ready to fight? Do you withdraw, freeze, or appease the other just to get the interaction over with?
    • What causes you to get defensive? What do you experience when you are defensive? Do you know how others experience you in these moments? What do others do that helps you lessen your defensiveness?
    • What or who causes you to be stressed? What does stress look and feel like in you? What is your tolerance for stress? Some have a high tolerance and often don’t notice or admit to themselves that they are stressed, yet inwardly, their anxiety level is high. What are the outward cues and signals that you send that you are stressed? What do you want others to do when they notice you are stressed? How do you de-stress?
    • What do you do that motivates and energizes you? When you are motivated and energized, what does that look and feel like? What do you do to sustain your motivation? What are the things that happen in a day that demotivate you? What does that look and feel like? How do you handle these situations?
    • What do you do that helps you relax, stay healthy, and have fun?


You may not be able to answer all these questions today, but maybe there is one that jumped out at you to be explored further. Here are a few things to get you started:

    • Pay attention to your interactions today. Be an observer of you today — no judgments, no criticism, just observe. Make note of something you become aware of today.
    • Ask a close friend that you have a high level of trust with to give you some feedback on one of the questions you are struggling to answer. Remember they are giving their perspective — it is not the truth; it is their truth. Take it in, and let it sit with you and see if what was shared feels true for you. Don’t be surprised if you hear something you don’t know about yourself — this is called a blind spot. Sometimes others can see in us things we are not yet able to see in ourselves, and sometimes if others project their issues onto us, the feedback doesn’t fit.
    • After an interaction with someone that doesn’t go as planned, request to debrief with that individual asking, “What was going on for you?” and sharing what was going on for you. Only do this with someone you have some level of trust and comfort with initially. Start with these individuals, then work your way up to more challenging situations.
    • If you have a challenging situation or interaction you need to handle today, check in with yourself first and be intentional in how you want to show up for the interaction. If you typically get reactive when working with this person, decide how you are going to stay “neutral” and not get hooked this time and if you do get hooked, what you will do differently to stay cool. If you are dealing with someone who is upset, take a few breaths, put your feet on the floor, and center yourself before the interaction.
    • Do one thing today that energizes, motivates, or brings you a great sense of satisfaction, or take some time just for you to do whatever helps you relax and rejuvenate.

The skills of self-observation, self-awareness, curiosity, and staying neutral before, during, and after interactions are your best friends. Cultivate them in yourself, and you’ll be well on your way to knowing yourself better and making the best out of every interaction you have.

Feeling stuck, not sure you know yourself well enough, or have a challenging situation you need to handle? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Mary Anne or me. We are only one phone call away!


Theresa Gale
Principal, Transform, Inc.