You can listen to a short version of the article. If it’s more convenient for you, turn on the podcast.

According to a large survey, conducted Gallup in 2015 in the US, employees are more engaged and enjoy their work when leaders tell them about their strengths.

Another study showedthat teams that performed well received almost six times more positive feedback about their work than teams whose achievements were more modest.

Recognition of our merits and positive qualities makes us more satisfied, joyful and productive. But sometimes management and close people are not too generous with good words, and the expectation of approval turns into a painful addiction. We figure out why we need praise so much and what to do if we don’t get it.

Where does the desire for approval come from?

Psychologists considerthat in general this is a natural need: it is important for us to know that we are doing everything right, we are valued, and what we do matters.

And the point here is not only in psychology, but also in biology. In one small experiment, participants received either monetary rewards or approval and compliments for their work. And with the help of MRI, scientists figured outthat in both cases, the same areas in the brain are activated as during orgasm. That is, we literally experiencing bliss from praise. There is speculation that dopamine is involved in this process, which is responsible for the sensation of pleasure, but the detailed mechanism has yet to be revealed.

In addition, the desire to hear words of praise addressed to oneself more often is associated with the peculiarities of upbringing: how often and for what a person was praised in childhood, how self-confident or, conversely, how dependent on approval he was raised.

Research also showthat praise helps us learn and reinforce new skills better. Accordingly, those of us who are praised are more likely to succeed and receive even more approval and pleasure than those who are deprived of this “dope”.

Why Counting on Praise Isn’t Always Right

Essentially, approval from another person is extrinsic motivation. Yes, in the short term, it spurs us on, helps us work more efficiently and more joyfully.

But, firstly, in this case it is important that we receive it regularly, and this is almost impossible. Poll in the USA showedthat 37% of managers do not give employees positive feedback at all.

And secondly, we become dependent on praise and compliments, we stop hearing ourselves and focus only on the opinions of others, of course, not always objective. And this leads to mistakes, disappointments and generally does not make anyone happy.

What to do if you really need approval, but don’t get it

Too obsessive and painful need for praise, according to psychologists is a wake-up call. And it is better to try to deal with this problem than to live from compliment to compliment. Here several recommendations.

1. Understand the reasons

Wanting to be told nice things is normal. But if, in the absence of this pleasure, your productivity and mood plummet, and you do not feel valued, it is worth analyzing the reasons.

Maybe you are not sure that you are doing your best or that what you are doing is important. Or, in your family and school, you were taught to think that when you are praised, it’s good, and when you don’t, it means that you are to blame for something and made a mistake somewhere. Perhaps you’ve had a traumatic experience with criticism and now you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing.

There are many reasons, and how to proceed further depends on them. For example, if you are in doubt that you are doing a good enough job, you can ask for feedback from a manager or other person you trust. Feedback is not praise or criticism, but a detailed opinion that touches on both positive aspects and growth areas and helps you become better.

And if the root of the problem is in the relationship with the parents, it may be worth working it out with a psychotherapist.

2. Learn to focus on the process, not the result.

In words, it is much easier than in practice. But if you manage to form the habit of concentrating on the process, you will never lose.

This skill needs to be trained: look for what you like in your activity and try to pay attention only to this, without allowing yourself to get too ahead of yourself and think about what will happen in the end and how others will react.

3. Praise yourself

This is the most important task – to find support and support within yourself, and not outside. Our entire society is built on extrinsic motivation, so groping for and holding on to intrinsic motivation is not easy.

You can start by celebrating all your successes and accomplishments, even small ones. Or keep a diary of achievements and every day write down at least a few reasons to admire yourself: I managed to work on time, I found time to play board games with my child, I finished knitting a complex sweater.

Try to criticize yourself less, do without nasty things and depreciation in your address and tell yourself more often that you are great.