Mistake #1: Seeking Validation


Today’s post is part of the series of 8 Mistakes Men Don’t Make, and we’re looking at the bad, bad habit of seeking validation. It’s not only women who do this. So listen up, men.

There are a few different ways people seek approval or validation. All of them send a message:

Hey, um, I’m not really good enough to be here, unless, well – do you think I am? Because if you think so then maybe you’re right. I don’t know.

I exaggerate – a little.

Keeping Quiet to Gain Approval

Maybe you think you don’t seek validation because you never directly ask for others to back you up. But what about holding back when you have something that needs to be said because you just don’t want to upset anyone? As someone who is not afraid to speak out, I’ll tell you that if you’re afraid you won’t be liked by everyone, you’re right. You’re also missing a huge opportunity to be deeply respected by those who a) agree with you, and/or b) appreciate whatever it is you’re saying being brought out in the open.

Seeking Validation by Getting Loud

We don’t all have the same personality. Some people seek approval not by blending in, but by standing out. They might be a little too loud, cross that fine line between witty and smart ass, or – especially in the case of women – turn the feminine charm dial a notch too high. These behaviors are sure to get attention, and in the short term even result in some positive outcomes. But really, over the long haul who’s going to want a long term business relationship with the class clown or the woman whose wardrobe choices continually spur the debate: are those real?

Can I Get a Yes Man?

It’s great to get your ego stroked by hanging out with people who think your ideas are brilliant, are interested in your cockapoodle, and never fail to compliment your fantastic haircut. And admit it, no one wants to live and work without these kinds of people in our lives. However, when you’re too focused on what others think of you, you may miss out on creating relationships with key business contacts who are in a position to advance your career. These people may not think you’re so special – today. But they might be able to help you get that way – tomorrow. Or maybe they do think you’re all that and a Powerpoint presentation, but they’re not the telly, feely type. Don’t lose an opportunity just because you’re addicted to praise.

I Can Do That

Overextending and overachieving are classic tactics women use to get validation and approval. I don’t even have to explain this one. Just – stop, okay? Offering to take care of everything that comes across the conference table only gives the message that you’re desperate to be accepted, and worse – that the work you’re already doing isn’t really so important.

It’s weird applying this concept to the work of writing, especially fiction. On one hand it seems publishing is all about seeking approval – from agents, publishers, and ultimately book buyers. On the other hand, the more I run ideas by writer friends, the more muddled it becomes. Less of me shows through, and as a writer that’s pretty much all I’ve got.

I think it’s the same no matter what business you’re in.

How do you notice yourself, or people you work with, seeking validation?

Image Credit: Katie Tegtmeyer