Everyone needs validation. I see this in all areas of life, particularly in organizations, where leaders often express a hunger for more recognition and appreciation than they get.
Of course, it’s not healthy to be addicted to validation from others; to yearn for praise and feel unworthy when you aren’t showered with it. If you are frequently bending who you are to get others to like you, or are regularly devastated when someone offers constructive criticism of your work, you might need to work harder on increasing your own self-validation skills.
But for most of us, sincere encouragement, support, and recognition are simply important motivators that help us do our jobs with a stronger sense of energy and purpose. I recently read research that found that students who receive encouragement from teachers in class are more likely to tackle challenging problems in those classes. What could that same encouragement and support do for the energy in an organization?
Often I learn that people aren’t forgetting to validate others, but that they have a reason for withholding praise. Some common reasons:
- Belief that praise will make a person lazy. I don’t want to praise that employee because he won’t strive as hard.
- A tit for tat feeling: no one is validating me, so I don’t want to offer validation to others.
- A feeling that if I build that person up then I will somehow be worth less than they are.
If you tend to not validate others, what is your barrier? If you do try offering support and encouragement to someone at work, how does it feel? What is the result? I think it’s an experiment worth trying.