Stuart Smalley will always be one of my favorite characters on Saturday Night Live. Remember him? “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggonit, people like me!”
If it’s one thing I’ve learned in my career so far it’s that no matter how old we are or how successful we become, everyone likes a pat on the back every now and then. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been dealing with clients I’ve perceived as difficult and challenging. They haven’t complained, whined or scolded. They just haven’t felt the need to say, “good job!”Therefore, I assume they think I’m an idiot, my work stinks and wish to find someone they think is better and smarter. Healthy, huh? In my defense, I do feel it’s human nature to question your talents when you don’t receive positive feedback, but really, you do get so much more out of a person when you give them even just a little affirmation.
Sometimes my security as a professional decreases because, and I’ll admit it, I like to hear I’m fabulous. But today I realized that it’s not me–we all want a little pat on the back. I had two interactions with people I greatly respect who all but admitted they like to hear how wonderful they are too–every now and then. A colleague, who I felt never let clients or work stress him out shared that he internalizes his anxiety and, in fact, gets nervous before important meetings and/or presentations. And, my mother, an extremely successful teacher of more than 35 years, filled me in on how her principal recently singled her out and thanked her for always being able to count on her for a job well done. See? I’m not alone. Even those I look up to need a little Stuart Smalley mantra.
Like everything in life, this is another lesson learned and I make it a point to provide those I work with the feedback I would want. Granted, neither myself, nor anyone else, is perfect, so the feedback may not always be positive. However, just knowing whether the direction in which you’re headed is the right one can help immensely.
So, those clients I’m referring to aren’t really challenging, and if they don’t feel the need to reaffirm that the job I’m doing is a good one that’s fine. I’ll just have to have my own secret daily affirmation myself. Whatever works, right?