Confessions of a Complete “Praise Whore”

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Posted March 14, 2014 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder
applause

 

 

  1. In addition to loving praise myself, I’m really good at giving it out, too. If a friend, colleague, or staff member does a good job, I absolutely love being able to laud them publically for their work.
  2. Not only do I love praise, I just plain love feedback in any form, even negative. A huge part of the reason I chose to return to the corporate world and leave entreprenership (besides my love of the philanthropic sector I am lucky enough to work in) was to regain a boss! I want to know when I’m doing a bad job and what I can improve upon as much as what I’m doing well.

But other than those two things, being a “praise whore” doesn’t get me too far. In fact, it continuously stifles my growth and leaves me frustrated and upset. Here are a few key examples, and perhaps my fellow applause seekers can relate:

  • I will beat myself up about the outcome of a project just because someone didn’t say “looks good” or “thanks for that” or “good job.” I assume that if there is no praise, there is actually criticism, which isn’t always true.
  • I have a graduate degree from what my former boss called “M.S.U.” – “Making Shit Up University.” Because when I don’t receive praise for something, I will make up a whole story in my head about why. Suddenly, because so-and-so didn’t greet me in the morning, I’ve decided she hates my guts and wants to get me fired (OK, maybe it’s not that drastic, but it can be).
  • I constantly feel like I’m being “difficult” if I do or say something that doesn’t immediately garner praise and worry that because of that, I’m not well liked enough to ever receive praise again.

If any of the above resonates with you, welcome to the club, you’re a “praise whore” too. It’s a terrible place to be, and a terrible place to live from. Because what I’ve discovered it means is this – nothing will ever be good enough. You will constantly be chasing the thing you cannot get, which is not praise from the outside world, but self acceptance. I’m still chasing it, and by no means have or (or will I ever) totally rid myself of my praise seeking ways.

But after much thought and consderation (and reading about three thousand articles on the internet to figure out why and how to turn it off), I’ve come up with a few ways to tone down the praise seeking rollercoaster:

  1. Actually ask for praise. The best way to get praise is not to wait for it, but to ask for it. If you’ve recently completed a project, sent it to your boss, and she said, “Thanks,” don’t be afraid to pop your head in her office a few days later and ask, “Hey, what did you think of that brief I sent you? Was it up to par?” You might not always get praise this way, sometimes you might get feedback, but most of the time you’ll hear something like, “Sorry, I forgot to circle back with you on that. Yes, great job!”
  2. Praise yourself first. Financial advisors everywhere preach a “pay yourself first” strategy in your finances, and the same goes for praise. If you don’t praise yourself, no one else will. So when you finish a big project or accomplish a big task, go ahead and buy yourself a mocha to celebrate (or a glass of champagne if it’s the end of the day). Tell your best friend or your spouse that you’re proud of the work you’ve done.
  3. Be honest when you’re feeling unappreciated. At the bottom of all of this praise seeking behavior is a deep need to feel appreciated. And if no one praises you, you feel unappreciated. And what does that feeling produce? A lack of engagement. So instead of saying, “You don’t appreciate me,” be honest about how you’re feeling by saying something like, “Lately, I haven’t been feeling very engaged in this project. I don’t know that my work is helping in any specific ways, and I’d like to discuss how I can feel more strongly about my work and how you (or the team) can help me to see the impact I’m making.”

If you’re a “praise whore,” you’ll always be one. It’s probably true. But if you can work on these few things (translation: if I can work on these few things), you’ll be in much better shape overall.

And if you ever need a round of applause, call me, we’ll applaud each other!


About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is the author of "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works" and a career expert who believes in order to be empowered in your career, you must be surrounded with resources and a network that both supports and challenges you. Marcy began her own networking journey as a professional fundraiser in the nonprofit industry, honed those skills as a fundraising consultant, and in 2012 networked her way to nearly 1 million readers as the CEO of the professional development website Career Girl Network.

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