Working with People Who Aren’t Self-Aware

Even though self-awareness — knowing who we are and how we’re seen — is important for job performance, career success, and leadership effectiveness, it’s in remarkably short supply in today’s workplace. In our nearly five-year research program on the subject, we’ve discovered that although 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

At the office, we don’t have to look far to find unaware colleagues — people who, despite past successes, solid qualifications, or irrefutable intelligence, display a complete lack of insight into how they are coming across. In a survey we conducted with 467 working adults in the U.S. across several industries, 99% reported working with at least one such person, and nearly half worked with at least four. Peers were the most frequent offenders (with 73% of respondents reporting at least one unaware peer), followed by direct reports (33%), bosses (32%), and clients (16%).

Un-self-aware colleagues aren’t just frustrating; they can cut a team’s chances of success in half. According to our research, other consequences of working with unaware colleagues include increased stress, decreased motivation, and a greater likelihood of leaving one’s job.

So how do we deal with these situations? Is it possible to help the unaware see themselves more clearly? And if we can’t, what can we do to minimize their damage on our success and happiness?

Understanding the problem

Not all badly-behaving colleagues suffer from a lack of self-awareness, and not all who do can be helped. Therefore, you must first determine whether the source of the problem is truly someone’s lack of self-awareness. Ask yourself:

What’s behind the tension?

When we’re having trouble working with someone, the problem isn’t always a lack of self-awareness on their part. Interpersonal conflict can arise from different priorities, incompatible communication styles, or a lack of trust.

To determine whether you’re truly dealing with an un-self-aware person, consider how others around them feel. Typically, if someone is unaware, there’s a consensus about their behavior (i.e., it won’t just be you). More specifically, we’ve found several consistent behaviors of un-self-aware individuals:

They won’t listen to, or accept, critical feedback.

They cannot empathize with, or take the perspective of, others.

They have difficulty “reading a room” and tailoring their message to their audience.

They possess an inflated opinion of their contributions and performance.

They are hurtful to others without realizing it.

They take credit for successes and blame others for failures.

Where is this person coming from?

In contrast to the unaware, certain difficult colleagues—like office jerks—know exactly what they’re doing, but aren’t willing to change.

I once knew a chief operating officer with a reputation for humiliating his team whenever they disappointed him. When finally confronted about his behavior, his response was, “The best management tool is fear. If they fear you, they will get the work done.” (Unsurprisingly, his superiors did not share his views and fired him several months later).

The biggest difference between the unaware and the Aware-Don’t-Care are their intentions: the unaware genuinely want to be collaborative and effective, but don’t know they’re falling short. Whereas the Aware-Don’t-Care unapologetically acknowledge their behavior (“Of course I’m pushy with clients. It’s the only way to make the sale!”), the unaware can’t see how they’re showing up (“That client meeting went well!”).

Helping the unaware

Once you’ve determined someone suffers from a lack of self-awareness, it’s time to honestly assess whether they can be helped. Think about their intentions and whether they’d want to change. Have you seen them ask for a different perspective or welcome critical feedback? This suggests that it’s possible to help them become more self-aware.

But the odds can be steep. Our survey found that although 70% of people with unaware colleagues have tried to help them improve, only 31% were successful or very successful. And among those who decided not to help, only 21% said they regretted their decision. So before you step in, ask yourself:

Am I the right messenger?

The number one reason our survey respondents gave for not helping an unaware person was that they didn’t think they were the right messenger. It’s true that when helping the unaware, providing good, constructive feedback only gets us part of the way. For someone to truly be open to critical feedback, they must trust us — they must fundamentally believe that we have their best interests at heart. When trust is present, the other person will feel more comfortable being vulnerable, a prerequisite to accept one’s unaware behavior.

So think about the relationship you have with your unaware colleague: have you gone out of your way to help or support them in the past? And are you confident they will see your feedback for what it is—a show of support to help them get better—rather than inferring a more nefarious motive? Or, are there others who might be better suited to deliver the feedback than you?

Am I willing to accept the worst-case scenario?

The second most common reason people decide not to help the unaware is that the risk is simply too high. As one of our study participants noted, “I may not be able to help and trying [might] just make them angry.” The consequences of help-gone-awry can range from uncomfortable (tears, the silent treatment, yelling) to career limiting (an employee might quit; a colleague may try to sabotage us; a boss could fire us).

Here, power differentials are a factor. For example, though unaware bosses have an especially detrimental impact on their employees’ job satisfaction, performance, and well-being, confronting one’s boss is inherently riskier because of the positional power she holds. Conversely, the risk is usually lower with peers, and lower still with direct reports (in fact, if you have an unaware employee, it is literally your job to help them). But regardless of their place on the organizational chart, we must be ready to accept the worst-case scenario should it occur.

If you believe you can help, then what’s the best way to do so? There are certainly many helpful resources on providing high-quality feedback, and most apply with the unaware. There are, however, three practices worth underscoring for these individuals.

First, talk to them in person (our research suggests those who provide feedback via email are 33% less successful). Second, instead of bringing up their behavior out of the blue, practice strategic patience. If possible, wait until your colleague expresses feelings of frustration or dissatisfaction that (unbeknownst to them) are being caused by their unawareness. Ask if you can offer an observation in the spirit of their success and wellbeing (using the word “feedback” risks defensiveness). Third, if they agree, focus on their specific, observable behavior and how it’s limiting their success. End the conversation by reaffirming your support and asking how you can help.

What to do if they don’t change

It’s easy to feel hopeless when you can’t help someone who is unaware. The good news is that although we can’t force insight on them, we can minimize their impact on us.

Mindfully reframe their behavior: The popular workplace practice of mindfulness can be an effective tool for dealing with the unaware. Specifically, noticing what we’re feeling in a given moment allows us to reframe the situation and be more resilient.

Here is one tool to notice but not get drawn in to our negative reactions to the unaware. I first came up with the “laugh track” when I had the misfortune of work­ing for an Aware-Don’t-Care boss. One day, after a particularly unpleas­ant encounter, I recalled my favorite TV show growing up, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary’s boss was a surly man named Lou Grant. On a good day, Lou was grumpy; on a bad day, he was downright abusive. But because his comments were followed by a canned laugh track, they became surprisingly endearing. I de­cided that the next time my boss said something horrible, I’d imagine a laugh track behind it instead. I was frequently surprised at how much less hurtful (and occasionally hilarious) this tool rendered him.

Find their humanity: As easy as it can be to forget, even the most unaware among us are still human. If we remember this, instead of flying off the handle when they’re behaving badly, we can recognize that, at the core, their unaware behavior is a sign that they are struggling. We can adopt the mindset of compassion without judgment.

Researchers have found that honing our compassion skills helps us remain calm in the face of difficult people and situations. As management professor Hooria Jazaieri points out, “there are [negative] consequences…when we are…thinking bad thoughts about someone” — compassion “allows us to let them go.”

Play the long game: When it comes to dealing with the unaware, one of the most important things to remember is that just because they’re that way now doesn’t mean they won’t change in the future. Unaware behaviors sometimes have to be pointed out multiple times before the feedback begins to stick — or, as one of our research participants noted, “Sometimes they have to bump their head enough times to finally see the light.”

In our research, we’ve studied people who made dramatic, transformational improvements in their self-awareness. Though it takes courage, commitment, and humility, it is indeed possible—and whether or not the people around us choose to improve their self-awareness, we have complete control over the choice to improve ours (find a quick, high-level assessment of your self-awareness here). At the end of the day, perhaps that’s where our energy is best spent.

by Tasha Eurich, PhD

Reminders We All Need When We’re Writing a Cover Letter

First of all, if you’re actually writing a cover letter to go alongside your resume, you’re going above and beyond most other job applicants because now days finding a job is hard. Second, I made this cover letter writing tips list the other night when I was awake at four o’clock in the morning because isn’t that what everybody does at four o’clock in the morning? Makes lists?

Damn, how I envy people who sleep until their alarm goes off.

So, champ, here are some things that I’m thinking we could really use some reminders on – because no one can actually write an amazing cover letter without incorporating these cover letter strategies.

1. Find a direct contact to email your cover letter to

What’s the best way to ensure your cover letter gets read? Address it to a specific person. Invest the time researching who the hiring manager is so you can tailor your letter not only to the company – but also to the person. All of us know when we receive a letter that is being sent to everyone without any personalization. And trrrrust me, those letters don’t compel anyone to say, “This looks like an interesting candidate, let’s schedule an interview with her.”

To find out who the hiring manager is, you could search on Senior LinkedIn for “[company name] [director] [ department].”

2. Don’t start off with “I’m writing to apply for XYZ position”

We’ve been sooooo conditioned to start off with this kind of watching paint dry intro that is neither creative nor compelling. Your intro should be memorable and thoughtful. Draw the reader into a story by sharing what about him, her, or the organization you find captivating. For example, one time I found an article featuring the interviewer at a company I was meeting with and I referenced that story in my cover letter intro:

Sample Cover Letter Intro

Dear Mr. Smith, (swapped in a fake name here of course)

After reading your interview on [name of publication], it sounds like there is a big challenge (and opportunity) to tie digital marketing efforts to actual doctor’s office visits. I wonder if you’ve already tried to see if there is a correlation between unique visitors to the website and office visits. I’m also curious to learn if you’ve tried moving the ‘Find a Doctor’ and ‘Schedule an Appointment’ icons above the fold to see if that has improved conversion rates.


Not THAT, my friends, is a great cover letter intro that results in getting an interview.

Make Yourself Feel Like An Invested Partner – Not Someone “for hire”

Laid Off Unexpectedly? 5 Rules to Help You Get Through this Period

Secret Job Hunting Tips That Helped Me Get Two Job Offers in 30 Days

3. Explain what you’ll deliver

The meat and potatoes of your cover letter should explain what value you can deliver for the company. Using three or four bullet points within the letter, you can spell out the outcomes you can deliver that will solve some of the company’s challenges. I like heading into this section with a line that Jenny Foss, founder of, recommends: “What specifically, could I bring to [name of company] in this role?”

Then I bold the intro of each bullet point that contains the key phrases and keywords the employer is looking for (based on the job description) as you can see in this example:

Hands-on experience managing extensive digital marketingprogramsin conjunction with SEM specialists, content strategist, graphic designers, web developers and third-party vendors. At [former company], I oversaw a $1M annual digital blah, blah, blah….

Implement strategies to build awareness, drive engagement, and improve retention.At [former company], I developed content, ad copy and creative that resonated with potential customers such as blah, blah, blah…..

Employ a data-driven approach tracking all digital marketing campaignsand assessing against goals (ROI and KPIs).At [former company] I consistently tracked conversion rates, blah, blah, blah….

4. Send your cover letter as a PDF

I got this tip from entrepreneur Seth Porges– send your cover letter as a pdf. Why? Because virtually everyone can open a PDF file without any conversion whereas not every computer can read a .docx file. And file conversions are bad since they can result in formatting err ors.

5. Choose a Font that is Easy to Read

Think about it, hiring managers have to review dozens – if not hundreds – of resumes and cover letters. If your resume or cover letter isn’t instantly readable, chances are they will pass over it. Career expert Alison Doyle wrote a great piece on how to choose the right font and size for a cover letter. Me personally, I like using font Helvetic size 13. Random tidbit – Helvetica has been featured by MOMA and has received a number of awards. There’s even a documentary and a few books about this font. Go Helvetica!

6. Follow Up

Last but definitely not least, following up with hiring managers and recruiters is probably the most important job search strategy you can take. We all lead busy lives and cannot always remember to respond to all the emails we receive. If you haven’t received a response to your cover letter in 24-48 hours, following up with the hiring manager lets them know you are very interested in the position and reminds them that they need to hurry up and interview you before someone else does. As the old saying goes, “The fortune is in the follow-up.”

by Eric Melchor

The 10 biggest minutes of your interview

Here’s how to make the first 10 minutes of your interview work in your favor.

You’ve heard it said before: First impressions are the most important.

When it comes to the job interview, here’s recent proof that proves this point:

A new survey suggests hiring managers often know whether they might hire someone soon after the opening handshake and small talk. Executives were asked, “How long does it typically take you to form either a positive or negative opinion of a job candidate during an initial interview?” The mean response was 10 minutes. Those polled said it takes them just 10 minutes to form an opinion of job seekers, despite meeting with staff-level applicants for 55 minutes and management-level candidates for 86 minutes on average.

This came from a survey developed by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the largest specialized financial recruitment service, and published April 12, 2007. It included responses from 150 senior executives with Fortune 1,000 companies.

So what does this mean for you as you approach your future job interviews?

Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, sums it up when he says, “The interview begins the moment job seekers arrive, so applicants need to project enthusiasm and confidence from the start. The opening minutes of the conversation often set the tone for the rest of the discussion, making it wise to prepare especially well for the first few interview questions.”

Here’s how to make the first 10 minutes of your interview work in your favor:

Know the four most important questions
Pay close attention to the four most important questions employers want answers to when they’re interviewing you:

“Why are you here?”

(Also phrased as “What do you know about us?” or “Why are you here today?”)

“What can you do for us?”

(Also phrased as “Tell me a little about yourself,” “Why are you looking to change jobs?” or “What’s your most important accomplishment to date?”)

“Will you fit in?”

(Also phrased as “Will you get along with our values and culture?”)

“What makes you different from everyone else that we may have talked with?”

(Also phrased as, “Will you go that extra mile?” or “Why should we hire you?”)

Rehearse your answers with your own “personal stories.” These are short narratives describing specific times in your past when you overcame a crisis, led a team, met a deadline, or resurrected a failed project.

Know the company
Do your homework. Always research the company before you interview. Know who they are, what their major challenges are today and the current “buzz” about them.

Why? The first few minutes of the interview are the time to flatter them.

Remember the question, “Why are you here?” Show them that you’ve done your research and not only know something about their company, but also have several reasons for being enthusiastic about working for them. Let this enthusiasm carry over into your demeanor as you walk in the door.

Know your role
First impressions count for a lot, especially in the job interview. You’re on stage from the minute you enter the room. So play your role by first getting into character:

Remember: The character you play is that of a problem solver, not a job seeker.

As a problem solver, you know why you are here, you’re excited about this company, and you know you can help them achieve their goals.

With this kind of ammunition, you can score direct hits on their opening questions and win big points for yourself by demonstrating you are both knowledgeable and excited about their opportunity.


By Joe Turner


9 career tips from unexpected Disney characters that will empower you

When you need a little inspo, what better place to look than Disney? There are plenty of characters whose advice could help you with everything from battling love troubles to acting with kindness. But what about your career? Yep, Disney can even help you figure out your path in life. These nine underrated Disney characters dish out some solid tips you can implement at work, starting right now.

1.“If you focus on what you left behind, you will never be able to see what lies ahead.” ― Gusteau, “Ratatouille”

2.“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” — Eeyore, “Winnie the Pooh”

3. “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” — The Emperor, “Mulan”

4. “You control your destiny — you don’t need magic to do it. And there are no magical shortcuts to solving your problems.” — Merida, “Brave”

5. “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” — Mary Poppins, “Mary Poppins”

6. “Life’s not a spectator sport. If watchin’ is all you’re gonna do, then you’re gonna watch your life go by without ya.” — Laverne, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”

7. “If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.” — The Cheshire Cat, “Alice in Wonderland”

8. “Today is a good day to try.” — Quasimodo, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”

9. “Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one.” — Grandmother Willow, “Pocahontas”

Sami Allen

3 Strategies for Avoiding Burnout as a Healthcare Professional

The stress of working as a healthcare professional can be taxing, demanding, and at times unmanageable. Though the work is still deeply satisfying, finding strategies to keep yourself nourished and cared for may require an additional layer of focus and attention.

When burnout starts to rear its head, having these strategies in your back pocket will help you fight back. 

1. Be proactive in your own well-being.

Feeling scatterbrained, rundown, and unable to make certain deadlines are tell-tale signs that you need a break. Don’t forget that you also require care. Remember to take the time you need to rest, relax, and re-charge. You will be able to offer exceptional care when you feel you are at your best.

2. Nourish your body with healing foods.

Nutrition is another form of medicine, so do your best to keep yourself healthy and nourished with the right foods. Working in healthcare can mean you are always on the go and awake at unnatural hours. Planning ahead and packing a variety of snacks and foods that can be easily carried with you throughout the day (and night) will certainly set you up for success.

3. Seek an inner calm.

At the end of a shift that may have kept you on your feet and focused on a variety of needs belonging to others, your brain may need help in slowing down. Whether you have enough energy to hit the gym, sit in silent meditation, or relax to your favorite music on the commute home, listen to what your body is telling you it needs. Trust the wisdom you know you have within.


3 Benefits of Bringing On a Physician Assistant

If you are looking to add value to your healthcare practice, bringing on a Physician Assistant can be an extremely valuable experience. Here’s why. 

1. Physician Assistants can help ease workflow.

Just like in team sports, you always want that person on your team who can play all of the positions well. PAs are like team players for healthcare practices. They’re flexible, they’re knowledgeable, and they can step up to the plate for complex cases when physicians are in high demand but in short supply.

PAs can see walk-in patients, urgent care cases, and complete routine visits for individuals who are battling diabetes or hypertension. Even in emergency departments, physician assistants can accommodate the stream of patients who either need trauma care or don’t.

2. PAs can help increase efficiency.

In a recent survey by the American Medical Association, the benefits of employing “non-physician practitioners” (NPP), solo practice physicians experienced higher rates of efficiency and better access to care for their patients.

3. PAs increase patient satisfaction.

Patients who are headed to see the doctor generally expect long waits. Why? Because when physicians are in short supply, wait times grow even longer. When you hire a PA, patient waiting times can dramatically decrease. PAs can also offer patients the care and attention they deserve. When they’re needed, PAs can help as patient health educators, nutritionists, and a coach in regards to smoking cessation. Plus, as practice schedules begin to open up, patients will be able to come in at more convenient times, a fact which is appreciated by everyone!

3 Ways to Leave a Positive + Lasting Impression on the Web

You may have heard that the simple things matter.

They do—especially when you’re searching for the right job.

How many of you out there have followed up after an interview by mailing a thank you note or simply typing off a grateful e-mail and hitting send, shuttling it off to individuals who have just had you in for an interview?

The same rules of interacting with people in the “real” world—well, they’re also important on the Web.

When you’re working with a recruiter, you may be wondering just what are the best ways to make a lasting impression. If you’re curious, keep these 3 tips in mind.

1. Every interaction counts.

Even if you never meet in-person, consider each interaction on the Internet as moments that mean something. Edit your emails a second (or third) time for corrections and ensure you’re being as clear as you can be. Just as when an interview starts the moment you walk into the office, take the same approach and serious considerations when business is all conducted over and through digital platforms.

2. Be you.

You’re looking to get hired as yourself, right? Be yourself. Don’t be on the lookout for a job for someone else. You’re working towards and for your own best interests. Don’t sacrifice your talents or your personality. Remain steadfast in what feels right and what feels appropriate for you.

3. Consider your presence on the Web.

What does your Facebook picture look like? What does your LinkedIn profile paint about your personality? Is your right foot forward on all your social media profiles? If you’re hoping to keep information private, make sure appropriate settings have been set.