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:
- Never, Ever, Kill the Messenger
- If you're a manager in a project-oriented organization, you need to know the full, unvarnished Truth.
When you kill a messenger, you deliver a message of your own: Tell me the Truth at your peril. Killing
messengers has such predictable results that you have to question any report you receive — good
news or bad.
- Decision-Making and the Straw Man
- In project work, we often make decisions with incomplete information. Sometimes we narrow the options
to a few, examine their strengths and risks, and make a choice. In our deliberations, some advocates
use a technique called the Straw Man fallacy. It threatens the soundness of the decision, and its use
is very common.
- What Enough to Do Is Like
- Most of us have had way too much to do for so long that "too much to do" has become the new
normal. We've forgotten what "enough to do" feels like. Here are some reminders.
- Quips That Work at Work: II
- Humor, used effectively, can defuse tense situations. Here's Part II of a set of guidelines for using
humor to defuse tension and bring confrontations, meetings, and conversations back to a place where
thinking can resume.
- Getting Value from Involuntary Seminars
- Whatever your organizational role, from time to time you might find yourself attending seminars or presentations
involuntarily. The value you derive from these "opportunities" depends as much on you as on
See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming January 29: Higher-Velocity Problem Definition
- Typical approaches to shortening time-to-market for new products usually involve accelerating problem solving. Accelerating problem definition can also help. Available here and by RSS on January 29.
- And on February 5: Unrecognized Bullying: I
- Much workplace bullying goes unrecognized. Three reasons: (a) conventional definitions of bullying exclude much actual bullying; (b) perpetrators cleverly evade detection; and (c) cognitive biases skew our perceptions so we don't see bullying as bullying. Available here and by RSS on February 5.
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- 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.