Are You Constantly Seeking Approval at Work?
This podcast stems from a workshop I did at our recent Extend & Elevate Connection Getaway called Aligning Daily Actions with Your Purpose for a More Fulfilling Life.
The premise was to look inside when uncovering our purpose. To be careful that we’re not creating a life based on the expectations of others. To be able to speak our purpose from our inner voice.
As I prepared the workshop, I did a lot of reflection. I realized that up until recently my own purpose was based on external recognition and validation. I realized that I have an Approval Seeking Paradigm. A paradigm is a habitual way of thinking that causes us to remain stuck.
For most of my life, I felt validated by receiving positive feedback. This is pretty common. We’re socialized by the recognition we receive from others. We make choices and behave in ways that we think others will approve of – be it family, friends, teachers, managers, clients, and business partners.
Approval seeking will always be a part of me. When it shows up, I am more aware and can shift my thinking, so I am not reactive to what others think of me – positive or negative. It is human nature to judge and judgement can be both good and bad. So really judgement is neutral. I’m working towards an acceptance of that so when I receive positive feedback, I don’t become egotistical. And when I receive negative feedback, I don’t let it stop me from taking my next step.
As long as I put my whole heart into what I’m doing and my intentions to help others are good, I know I’m living my purpose.
Watch Out When Approval Seeking is Having a Negative Impact
For example, when feedback crushes you.
At work, we must create value. In order to be providing more value, we are essentially looking for stakeholder approval to guide us. The problem for me in the past was when I didn’t receive someone’s approval or the feedback was negative, it totally derailed me.
- Is a lower-than-expected performance review creating self-doubt, resentment, and frustration?
- Are you avoiding speaking up in meetings or putting yourself “out there” for a new project in fear of what others will think of you?
- Do you want a raise but are you too scared to ask?
- Do you want to make a career pivot and the thought of expressing your intentions to colleagues at work, even your champions, has you filled with anxiety?
This is when approval seeking is getting in the way of your personal growth and your professional success.
Check out the benefits of failure – mentioned on two of my favourite podcasts:
I want to reframe approval seeking into something more fun – and this comes from a phenomenal coaching and personal growth program I participate in called Thinking Into Results.In the program, Bob Proctor and Sandy Gallagher talk about “leaving everyone with the impression of increase – where others benefit from coming into contact with you.” I like that play on approval seeking because it neutralizes it for me.
I encourage you to stay neutral to both the negative and the positive feedback. Lean into your values while staying committed to growth and learning, and you’ll escape the downside of approval seeking and harness the benefits. Watch your success soar as you constantly add value and continue to be recognized and promoted.
Next time you catch yourself seeking someone’s approval and it’s stopping you from taking action, just ask yourself – what’s the worst thing that could happen? Chances are your worst potential outcome isn’t that bad at all. It’s actually more likely that you’ll get everything your heart desires!