Reassuring ourselves

If praise is about me showing you that I think highly of something that you have done, how come people are resorting to praising themselves so much on their social media?

September 4, 2020

Nicola has been trawling LinkedIn. It’s part of her job to help us to stay up to date with what people are thinking and what is being talked about. But she came back to me this morning with something rather odd (I’d asked her what she thought the blog should be about).

Nicola reported that: “people were bigging themselves up everywhere, about all sorts of things”. She said that it was of course normal for someone to post when they had passed a course, earned an important qualification or something like that. “But this”, she said, “this is really weird”.

And then I started thinking about the conversations I’d been having in the last couple of days. And three in particular, of which two were unplanned, really set me thinking that the feelings associated with insecurity such as, well, fear and doubt were much more prevalent at the moment. Not so much on the surface but in the behaviours that we are starting to see leaking into our lives. Poor sleep patterns, over eating, circular thoughts around personal decisions relating to everything from money, to careers, to children. And perhaps the celebration of ourselves for smaller things than would have made news before.

I write this not to be critical of people posting harmless boasts but rather as a warning to all of us that we need to look after each other more carefully by which I mean, most particularly, to give reassurance where we can.

 We’re going to be running a whole webinar on the topic of reassurance in three weeks’ time on Friday 25th September at the new time of 12.30. And I’m going to be focussing in particular on three approaches to giving reassurance: empathy, specific praise and the giving of time and attention.

Briefly so as not to keep you hanging entirely…

Empathy has two roles to play: it gives us the opportunity for us to check our assumptions about the person who is speaking to us and about what they are saying (and NOT saying). Secondly, communicating empathy towards someone proves to them that we are a) trying to understand and b) sometimes even succeeding!

Specific praise is about showing you that I think highly of something that you have done. It also gives you the chance to think highly of yourself. Without it we are left to merely hope that we are good enough (and might lead some of us to start posting stuff on different platforms, seeking approval from others).

Giving of time and attention. The clue is in the title. It takes time to give time and attention and then what. What is the point of just being there if nothing material is achieved? And that’s just it.Having time with and around people IS the ‘thing’. As I have written here before:we lock people up to punish them but we put them on their own if we want to really torture them.

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