Thanksgiving is a special time of year when friends and family gather together, stuff themselves with roast turkey and pumpkin pie, and give thanks. In fact, the positive benefits of expressing gratitude and appreciation are so overwhelming, it should be done every day, not just on a holiday.
Giving thanks and acknowledging a job well done produce gratifying feelings for both parties. On one hand, it feels good to know you're recognizing someone's efforts in a positive way and, on the other hand, it feels really good to have your efforts recognized. It's a powerful win-win situation.
There is a reason why cheerleading is such an integral part of our culture. Everyone needs a good cheerleader, a diehard fan, an avid supporter -- not just professional sports teams. Cheerleaders are there for support and celebration when you win, and consoling words of encouragement when you lose.
But what happens when you can't make a decision at work without that constant cheerleader? What happens when you don't hear "job well done" -- is it still a "job well done"? (If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?)
Many women are addicted to affirmation and are easily influenced by the opinions and actions of others. Women love to hear rave reviews, compliments, and thanks. They put a lot of effort into their work and are motivated by ongoing acknowledgment and praise. That type of reaction is a great confidence-booster and makes women feel great about the work they've done, the decisions they've made, and who they are as people.
The opposite is also true. If women hear negative or critical feedback, they will second-guess themselves and feel their self-confidence plummet. Silence, or no feedback at all, can cause a lot of women to stop dead in their tracks and rethink the entire scenario. "Maybe I should have hired the other candidate", or "I knew it was a mistake to copy Sally on that email."
Whether it's a decision about a new hire or electronic communication that external validation reinforces the fact that you're on the right track, that you made the right decision, and that you have exercised good judgment. External validation boosts self-confidence and provides the energy and motivation to keep moving forward. Everyone needs a cheerleader, but the problem occurs when women rely on that positive feedback so heavily that without it they question themselves and their judgment. They're lost without it.
The need for continuous affirmation, gratitude, and appreciation can be addictive and may require a special 12-step program to break the destructive pattern of self-sabotaging behavior. These "12 Steps for Breaking the Affirmation Addiction" are written from my experience as a successful career coach and shared in my book, Woman UP! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success:
- Consider the source -- does that person's opinion really matter?
- See the big picture -- what else is happening outside of your interaction?
- Question the motives -- what's the other person's agenda?
- Check your sanity -- ask a trusted source if the criticism is valid.
- Take baby steps -- take one little step at a time to build self-confidence.
- Trust your gut -- challenge the feedback if you know it's not true.
- Filter it out -- listen to the valid criticism and ignore the rest.
- Shift your focus -- focus on the positive 99%, not the negative 1%.
- Keep track -- keep a "Brag Book" as a way to remember all the good news.
- Laugh it off -- don't take every comment and remark so seriously.
- Toughen up -- business isn't always kind and you can't be so sensitive.
- Celebrate yourself -- don't wait for someone else to say "good job".
It's important for women to know that they're doing a great job even if they don't hear it every day, to trust their own instincts, and to believe in themselves. Don't allow those external influences to cause you to second-guess yourself and shake your self-confidence. Stop waiting for someone else to be your cheerleader and pat you on the back. It's time to pull on those "big-girl panties" and break the addiction to affirmation. Woman UP! and give yourself the thanks you need and the appreciation you deserve.
Author of Woman Up!
Ditch Your Costume and Woman Up at Work
by Aimee Cohen
Oct 5, 2014
The reality is that women are low risk-takers and are paralyzed at the thought of looking stupid, silly, or incompetent. They hide behind their make-believe personas and internal fantasy dialogue, and ultimately end up killing their careers. It's time to pull on those "big-girl panties" and save the costumes for when you go trick-or-treating on Halloween. Woman UP! and be yourself.
Aimee Cohen is a career expert, veteran speaker, and author of Woman UP! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success. She is owner of Cohen Career Consulting where, for more than 20 years, she has a nearly 100% success rate empowering women to achieve career success. Aimee provides strategic step-by-step action plans to clients during personalized one-on-one consultations. She leads outplacement transition seminars for Fortune 500 companies and is a contributing writer for the Denver Business Journal.
She facilitates the LINK to Leadership program for The Leadership Investment, has appeared as a career expert on television and radio shows, and in print media such as Glamour magazine, the Denver Post, and Denver Woman magazine, and she was a past nominee for Outstanding Women in Business Award from the Denver Business Journal.
Aimee lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband of 22 years. She has two teenage children. Her son is a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and her daughter is in high school.
by Aimee Cohen
Morgan James Publishing