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:
- When You Make a Mistake
- We've all made mistakes, and we'll continue to do so for as long as we live. Making mistakes is part
of being human. Still, we're often troubled by our mistakes, even when we remember that many mistakes
turn out to be great gifts. Why do we have such a hard time acknowledging mistakes?
- When You Travel Alone
- Many of us travel as a part of our jobs, and some of us spend a fair amount of that time traveling solo.
Here are some tips for enlivening that time alone while you're traveling for work.
- The Uses of Empathy
- Even though empathy skills are somewhat undervalued in the workplace context, we do use them, for good
and for ill. What is empathy? How is it relevant at work?
- Good Change, Bad Change: I
- Change is all around. Some changes are welcome and some not, but when we distinguish good change from
bad, we often get it wrong. Why?
- Toxic Conflict at Work
- Preventing toxic conflict is a whole lot better than trying to untangle it once it starts. But to prevent
toxic conflict, we must understand some basics of conflict, and why untangling toxic conflict can be
See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 27: Brainstorming and Speedstorming: II
- Recent research into the effectiveness of brainstorming has raised some questions. Motivated to examine alternatives, I ran into speedstorming. Here's Part II of an exploration of the properties of speedstorming. Available here and by RSS on February 27.
- And on March 6: A Pain Scale for Meetings
- Most meetings could be shorter, less frequent, and more productive than they are. Part of the problem is that we don't realize how much we do to get in our own way. If we track the incidents of dysfunctional activity, we can use the data to spot trends and take corrective action. Available here and by RSS on March 6.
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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.