We are terrible evaluating our performance. It amazes me how blind we can be when considering self-assessment. If you are interested in growing, you should pay attention to these three blind spots: knowledge blindness, emotion blindness and behavior blindness, as they are defined in a book called Insight.
The more we ignore them, the more we’ll get in our way to development.
On this matter the Dunning-Kruger effect is quite known. A cognitive bias whereby people with low ability, experience, or expertise in a particular topic tend to overestimate themselves. The opposite effect is also known. Top performers with a solid proof track in a field tend to underestimate their skills.
Our perceptions change how we see the world, and most of the time, we evaluate ourselves according to the beliefs we have about us and the perceptions on our performance instead of our actual performance.
It’s not only what we think we know what matters. What we think we are plays also an important part in this evaluation.
The other day in class, one of my students struggled to find a word from a scrambled bunch of letters. His words, “I’m good at this, it’s not possible I can’t do that”, shown how our self-confidence gets in the way of getting the best results. Therefore, we don’t ask for help.
Our lack of clarity about how much we know about something or what our actual skills are could be a potential problem, not only for our development, but also for our teamwork.
As Professor Ulrich states in her book, a distortion in what we know also provoke changes in what we think we feel, which leads us to the next blind spot.
How aware are you about how you feel? Probably, you feel that you’re perfectly aware of your feelings, but the truth is that our brains tend to simplify how we evaluate them. First, and of course generally speaking, humans are poorly educated in labelling their feelings to find the nuances. Second, and more important, it’s known that we tend to sense our gut when it comes to evaluate emotions.
An example: Daniel Kahneman conducted a research which demonstrated that if a person found a dime right before being asked how happy they were with their life, the average reported feeling was happier.
As a result, we often make decisions from a place of emotion without noticing we are in such a place. Therefore, not knowing the impact of our emotions in our decision-making process is the second blind spot. And every decision we make has an impact in our behavior. This leads us to the next blind spot.
Again, our perceptions impact on how we approach problems and make decisions, and thus on how we behave. Equally important is to know that how we see our behavior’s impact is shaped by our assumptions and beliefs. We can’t see ourselves from the perspective others have. Therefore, this behavior blindness is the third blind spot. To know exactly about our impact and do better evaluating our behavior, we need to pay attention and ask others.
As a summary, to grow as a person, we need to pay attention to these three blind spots. Self-assessment doesn’t have any purpose if it’s biased or lacked of accuracy.