Self-Regard: A Balancing Act

PART EIGHT OF A MULTI-PART SERIES ON EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

During the month of February (and oftentimes sooner), we’re bombarded with messages about Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to avoid thinking about love — or at least what advertisers want us to think about love.

Self-esteem is an important part of our capacity to engage in loving relationships. You need to feel worthy and deserving of love in order to give it.

But there’s another aspect of self that’s also significant in both our personal and professional lives: self-regard. It’s the ability to like yourself and have self-confidence while being fully aware of your positive and negative qualities.

In the workplace, self-regard is an important aspect of milestones like asking for a raise or participating in a performance review process.

There are also many ways that self-regard is significant in daily business life. In my own work, I’ve come to recognize that my strengths are as a presenter; however, using PowerPoint – not so much. So this awareness leaves me with several choices. I can agonize and worry that being PowerPoint-challenged will have a negative impact on every presentation. Or, I can accept my limitations and know that I can have someone else make my slides. Another option is for me to put the time and effort into learning how to use that tool.

Having an appropriate amount of self-regard lets me choose to focus my energy on what I’m good at … and not waste time or emotional capital on the areas where I’m not so skilled.

Being aware of your limitations and knowing how you will deal with them is a key to confidence and satisfaction. Successful people decide whether to work at improving themselves in areas where they have weaknesses, or to surround themselves with others who can compensate for those deficiencies.

As with all aspects of emotional intelligence, it’s important to aim for the appropriate level of self-regard.

People with low self-regard may feel that the absence of a “perfect” track record means they shouldn’t ask for a raise. Obviously no one is perfect. And what matters more than the occasional mistake is, how did you address it? What did you learn that informs how you approach similar challenges in the future?

The other extreme: too much self-regard which creates problems as well. We’re all familiar with the people who regularly dominate meetings sharing examples of how their supposed contributions were the most significant. This often comes across as arrogant and narcissistic and creates obstacles for effective teamwork.

The goal of having an appropriate amount of self-regard can be attained by being honest with yourself about both your strengths and weaknesses. Only then is it possible to be confident and justifiably proud of who you truly are.


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