One thing I have been intentionally working on developing over the course of the last 3 or 4 years is the underrated skill of social awareness.
It’s one of those things that I think most of us think and assume we’re totally fine at, but then something happens to you, someone says something to you in a way that makes it clear that they are not also working on their social awareness skills, and you consequently end up doing some soul searching and discover that you, too, have a lot of work to do in this area.
Two years ago, I was at the Games having breakfast with Ben and Kat one morning before they left for the venue. I was actually trying to just act the way we normally act with each other to help ease her nerves. So, I was just trying to talk about random stuff, make her laugh a lot, and then was asking about how some of the other athletes were feeling.
Ben later pulled me aside and spoke with me about how I had to be more careful with what I was talking about with her in those scenarios. I, literally, had no idea what he was talking about. I thought I was helping, not hurting, the situation.
What I was missing was being able to read in her reaction that I was taking her focus off what she actually needed to be focusing on at that time. Katrin is incredible at not making people feel awkward or guilty or like they’re doing something out of place, so…in my defense…she played me so hard that I sort of needed a magnifying glass to read her reaction. But, I still should’ve thought harder about that leading into those times with her.
The way we hang out at home and at CFNE is NOT how she needs me to hang out with her at The CrossFit Games. It’s hard, because it’s not what I’m used to and not what I want or need at those times, but that’s the whole point of social awareness.
Being socially aware has to do with your ability to read other people without them having to specifically tell you how they’re feeling and reacting to you…and, as importantly, your willingness to take that awareness and be selfless enough to put their needs before your own.