Why You Should Know Yourself

Know yourselfIntrospection by Eddy Van 3000 licensed under Creative Commons

As an existing or aspiring personal trainer, you have learned or intuitively understand the need to gather as much information as possible about clients in order to build an effective training program. This way, you get to learn about your clients’ personality, their aspirations and goals, likes and dislikes.  But what about you?  How much do you know yourself?  Without insights into your own personality, you will likely have difficulties establishing rapport with your clients and therefore, will reduce the effectiveness of your instruction.

How we perceive the world around us (and the people in it), how we behave and what the consequences of our actions are is often unknown to us.  It is only through insight (personal or offered by another person) that we can access knowledge about how we act and react generally or in specific situations.
 As an example, you may feel energized when you meet people or train a client.  Or you may expend energy when around others and will require time by yourself to “recharge your battery”.
But have you truly assessed if you are social, or more introverted? Do you have a view, through insight, of your personality traits?  It is important that you seek a deeper knowledge of the most important person in your life – you.  This knowledge will help you gauge your own reactions when interacting with clients.  Here are a few tips that can put you on a path of self-discovery that will benefit your clients and yourself.

1. Be honest

As human beings, we are pretty good at self-deception.  We tend to see our good sides and hide the dark ones in a far corner, in the hope that no one will discover them.  But self-deception prevents us from facing things as they are.  By shedding self-deception you will begin to honestly assess your strengths and the areas that may need improvement.

2. Map your main personality traits

Take a pen and draw a list of the most obvious traits of your personality.  You don’t need to take a personality test here.  Just write adjectives that best describe you.  Social or not?  Enthusiastic? Emotional? Deep thinker? If you are not sure how to approach this, ask yourself how your best friend would describe you.  And in consideration of tip number 1, split your paper in two and don’t forget to surface a couple of less enviable traits that you know you have, but don’t want others to see.  Look and reflect on your list. See if you can add to it (both columns please…..).

3. Assess your known behaviours under different conditions

We tend to react differently whether we are at peace or under stress.  While you may be totally self-confident in a known or relaxed environment, you tend to become fearful in new or unknown situations.  Knowing how you are likely to react under stress may help you develop strategies to remain calm. This is particularly important when encountering more challenging clients.

4. Learn about your clients’ personality traits

Have you noticed how we are naturally drawn toward certain people while we have difficulties interacting with others?  This is because we tend to associate with people that we perceive as being “like us”.  Our initial perceptions of others need to be challenged. Get curious about your new client’s personality.  Reserve judgment if you see behaviours that would not be your own.  By developing a better understanding of your clients’ personality in relation to your own, you will more easily bridge perceived gaps and truly engage in a mutually beneficial and rewarding relationship.
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