Interpersonal Awareness – Social Skills Start With You
March 6, 2012

When you think about social skills, you probably automatically think about how a person interacts with others. However, what most people don’t realize is that social skills start with an understanding of self. Interpersonal awareness is the ability to show a true understanding of yourself and others, and having a deep knowledge of your own thoughts and feelings. Interpersonal awareness is a cornerstone for social/emotional learning, and it’s a skill that helps us get along with others.

Plays Well With Others

Have you ever seen a T-shirt with the message “Plays well with others” printed on it? We may laugh to see an adult wearing a shirt with a message normally associated with children, but when you think about it, getting along with others is an important skill, even for adults. The ability to relate or get along with others will always be an important skill in developing emotional intelligence.

Interpersonal awareness—the group of skills that allows us to get along with others—has been the subject of much study over many years. One truth in all of this research is that interpersonal awareness is not easy to learn. It requires individuals to develop two important skills: Self-awareness and self-acceptance. Acceptance of yourself is very important to interpersonal awareness, and it demands that you believe that you are good enough to be accepted by yourself and others. You must learn to like yourself before others can like you. Once you have learned the skills of self-awareness (being aware of yourself and your feelings) and self-acceptance (liking yourself), interpersonal awareness can be developed.

Becoming Aware of Yourself

The best way to improve self-awareness is to become aware of your feelings and emotions. The psychologist John Mayer said that self-awareness means being aware of both our mood and our thoughts about that mood. If we feel we are in a bad mood, we are already on the road to changing our bad mood. Mayer says that people have three styles or ways for dealing with their feelings and emotions. These styles are:


This is the highest state. In this state, people are aware of their moods as they are having them. These people are in good mental health and tend to have a positive outlook on life. When they get in a bad mood, they can get themselves out of it more quickly than others.


This group of people often feels that their emotions rule them. They feel their moods have taken charge, but they are not very aware of their feelings. As a result of a basic lack of understanding, they feel that they have no control over their moods. Rather than realizing the emotions they feel, they simply feel “out of control.”


These people often seem to know what they are feeling and also accept these feelings without trying to change them. This pattern is found among depressed or sad people.

Do you want to improve your self-awareness? Here are some proven steps you can use to improve your awareness of yourself and others.

  1. Remove your mask. Sometimes we wear a mask to hide ourselves so that others cannot see us for what we really are. Our actions toward others become directed by what we think we should be rather than by what we are. 
  2. Develop yourself. There are two forces driving us. One pushes us to play it safe and take no risks. The other forces us to take risks and develop our abilities. 
  3. Know your feelings. Learning your true feelings seems scary, but is necessary in order to grow. Learn to understand your true feelings. 
  4. Learn to accept change. Learning new behaviors involves a process of unfreezing old behaviors, changing to new behaviors, and, finally, freezing new behaviors. This process allows old habits to be replaced with new habits. 
  5. Listen to your positive self-talk. All of us have inner thoughts. In order to increase self and interpersonal awareness, positive or good self-talk must replace negative or bad self-talk. Our self- image is our basis for the type of person we are. All of our actions, feelings, behavior, and abilities are tied in with our self-image. If we want to improve our self-image, then we must change the way we think about ourselves. We act according to the self-images we have built up in our minds over the years. This may be a correct or an incorrect way of looking at ourselves. To improve self-image, we must learn to see ourselves as happy, well-adjusted people.

Positive Affirmations

Here is a list of positive affirmations to improve self-awareness:

  • I have many friends.
  • I am well-liked by others.
  • I like others.
  • I am at ease around others.
  • I am a friend to all.
  • I understand myself and my feelings.
  • I understand others’ thoughts and feelings.

Want to learn more about improving Interpersonal Awareness–the cornerstone of social/emotional learning? Download our brochure to read more about our research-based assessments and skill interventions.



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