As they walked out to the parking lot, Ellen tried to console him. "Maybe they were confused and didn't want to admit it," she said. "It took, what, three hours till I finally got it, didn't it?"
Bob was unconvinced. "I don't know, they all just kinda sat there. Like they'd heard the idea before, and they were so bored they just wanted to move on."
Ellen persisted. "Look, I have to get going. Let's meet for coffee tomorrow morning, 7:30."
"OK, but if I'm not there, don't call the paramedics. I'll probably be sleeping off a bender. Just kidding."
Although he's still able to make lame jokes, Bob is feeling pretty low about how his presentation was received. He wanted a more obvious expression of approval, and he was disappointed.
When you depend on praise from others to feel good about yourself, you're giving other people a lot of power. Here are two other forms of this pattern:When you depend
on praise from others
to feel good about yourself,
you're giving other people
a lot of power
- Approving multitudes
- Dependence on universal acclamation or honor can be even more dangerous, because it can be difficult to achieve. Bob might be caught in this trap.
- Acquired treats
- Acquired treats are goods or services that anyone with enough money can buy. For some, the intensity of the reward is in inverse proportion to the number of people who can acquire the treat (legally or otherwise).
Instead of praise, approval, acclamation, or treats, rely on yourself. You'll experience a level of happiness that's otherwise unavailable. And with it comes a bonus: you can give yourself a lift whenever you want it.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you build your power to appreciate yourself:
- Begin within
- When you want to give yourself a lift, focus first on your breathing — a few slow breaths at least. Find your center.
- There's no one else like you
- We're all unique. People are so complicated that there are too few of us to require repetition. There are some situations that we alone are able to handle best. The needed combination of skills, knowledge, abilities, and interest resides in no one else.
- We don't appreciate each other
- Think of a colleague at work. Ask yourself, "How often have I thought about his or her uniqueness?" If you're like most of us, not often. And other people think about your uniqueness about as rarely as you think of theirs. In part, this is why so many of us feel unappreciated.
- You're the world's expert on you
- No one knows as much about you as you do. When you need a lift, rely on the world's expert on you.
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More articles on Emotions at Work:
- What's So Good About Being Laid Off?
- Layoffs during the holiday period of November 15 through January 15 are far more common than you might
think. Losing your job, or fearing that you might, is always difficult, but at this time of year it's
especially helpful to keep in mind that the experience does have a bright side.
- Demanding Forgiveness
- Working together under stress, we do sometimes hurt each other. Delivering apologies is a skill critical
to repairing those hurts and maintaining our relationships.
- Inappropriate Levels of Regard
- The regard we have for others as people is sometimes influenced by the regard we have for the work they
do. Confusing the two is a dangerous error.
- Not Really Part of the Team: I
- Some team members hang back. They show little initiative and have little social contact with other team
members. How does this come about?
- Scope Creep and the Planning Fallacy
- Much is known about scope creep, but it nevertheless occurs with such alarming frequency that in some
organizations, it's a certainty. Perhaps what keeps us from controlling it better is that its causes
can't be addressed with management methodology. Its causes might be, in part, psychological.
See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 25: Workplace Memes
- Some patterns of workplace society reduce organizational effectiveness in ways that often escape our notice. Here are five examples. Available here and by RSS on October 25.
- And on November 1: Risk Creep: I
- Risk creep is a term that describes the insidious and unrecognized increase in risk that occurs despite our every effort to mitigate risk or avoid it altogether. What are the dominant sources of risk creep? Available here and by RSS on November 1.
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- Ten Project Management Fallacies: The Power of Avoiding Hazards
- Most of what we know about managing projects is useful and effective, but some of what we know "just ain't so." Identifying the fallacies of project management reduces risk and enhances your ability to complete projects successfully. Even more important, avoiding these traps can demonstrate the value and power of the project management profession in general, and your personal capabilities in particular. In this program we describe ten of these beliefs. There are almost certainly many more, but these ten are a good start. We'll explore the situations where these fallacies are most likely to expose projects to risk, and suggest techniques for avoiding them. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.