Do we need Recognition?

“There are two things people want more than sex and money – recognition and praise.” ~ Mary Kay Ash

Have you noticed how children ask for praise and recognition? “Mummy, Daddy, look at me!” Most of the time parents happily oblige and say how wonderful something is. As children we seek praise. We are taught that if we did something our parents approved of we would be rewarded or praised for it. If not, then there would be no praise or even a punishment. Does this cycle become so engrained in us that we continue to seek praise in our adult lives? When do we stop asking for recognition out loud? Is it a mere shift from actually asking our parents and teachers to silently expecting it from our loved ones and managers?

Abraham Maslow, a famous psychologist, states in his paper “The Theory of Motivation” that humans need to be recognised. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, human beings have five different types of needs: basic needs like food and water, safety needs like shelter, love needs from family and friends, esteem needs which include respect for yourself and others and self-actualization which include purpose and personal growth. Once these lower-level needs have been met, people can move on to the next level of needs. As people progress up the pyramid, needs become increasingly psychological and social.

Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs

Esteem needs that include recognition, also include the need for things that reflect on self-esteem, personal worth, social status and accomplishment. Esteem basically is about self-esteem which is feeling good about ourselves. We can get such esteem in two ways. Internally, we can judge ourselves and find ourselves worthy by our own defined standards. Most people, however, start with the outside, seeking social approval and esteem from other people, judging themselves by what others think of them.

Is there a difference between recognition and praise?

Recognition is an observation rather than an indication of judgement. Via recognition, a person is made to feel they belong and accepted whereas praise is more dependent on the judgment of the person giving it, hence takes away autonomy and power. This may seem like a subtle and unimportant distinction, yet is a very important one.

If you tend to validate internally, get “reality checks” by asking others to evaluate your work or actions. This will allow you to become aware of other’s standards as well as your own. If you tend to validate externally, remember that lack of praise does not automatically mean something is not appreciated. Sometimes, others may just not be aware that you need feedback or want praise.

In order to be free and be who we know we can be, we must let go of the praise shackles. We must learn to set our own standards. As a child, this dependency on praise may serve us well, yet it imprisons us as we grow up. Give yourself permission to know when you have done something well and tell yourself so. Let go and be all you Aim to Be!

Do you think we all need recognition?

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Written by Ana Antunes da Silva.

Photo by Nutmeg66.

56 Responses to “Do we need Recognition?”

  1. Diana says:

    Thanks for this article, I really enjoyed reading it.
    Fortunately I’ve always set my own standards, and they are high!
    However, in a business context I definitely think it is important to get recognition from one’s boss, especially when the less positive aspects are being spoken about out loud.
    There has to be some sort of balance…

  2. Gwendolyn says:

    Hey, thanks for the great article. Honestly, about seven months ago I started using the internet and there is so much junk out there. I appreciate that you put excellent content out that is clear and well-written. Good luck and thanks for the great article.

    • Ana says:

      Many thanks for your positive feedback. I am really pleased you enjoy reading my posts.
      If there are any topics you would like to see on here just let me know.
      Please feel free to sign up to the RSS feed or email so that you are kept updated with new entries.

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