Whether it’s in trying to find a new job or you are trying to impress a date, people spend an inordinate amount of time making claims about themselves. It makes sense: You’re the only person on Earth who has direct knowledge of every thought, feeling, and experience you’ve ever had. Who could possibly know you better than you? But your backstage access to your own mind sometimes makes you the last person on Earth others should trust when it comes to your opinons on you. Think of it like owning a car: Just because you’ve driven it for years doesn’t mean you can pinpoint when and why the engine broke down. We tend to protect ourselves from feeling like failures or feeling unsiccessful by adopting different rules for ourselves than for other. When it comes to you, your judgement is clouded by emotion where as when we judge others we don’t have that same emotional baggage that might distort reality. Of course with others – we don’t know all the facts as we do not have access to their inner workings either.
Sixteen rigorous studies of thousands of people at work have shown that people’s coworkers are better than they are at recognizing how their personality will affect their job performance. As a mental health expert, if I want to get an idea of your personality, I could ask you to fill out a survey on how stable, dependable, friendly, outgoing, and curious you are. But I would be much better off asking your coworkers to rate you on those same traits: They’re often more than twice as accurate. They can see things that you can’t or won’t—and these studies reveal that whatever you know about yourself that your coworkers don’t is basically irrelevant to your job performance.