I have a confession to make. I love praise. I love it when people think I'm talented or special or great. Most people do, on some level. Even my cat loves it when I coo, “good girl!" when she's done something I approve of. But here's the problem-when I feel like I'm being praised, I'm gravely at risk of ignoring things my heart and gut tell me. So much so, that, at times, I practically go intuitively deaf. Have you ever had this happen-you're out on a date with someone and they begin to tell you how attractive you are, how smart, how interesting you are? After a few choice compliments and acknowledgements, do you notice that you'd do anything to keep this person around so they will tell you those things more often, no matter who they are?
What about in your work life? Do you find yourself agreeing to projects that, afterward, you wonder why you agreed to them, but if you trace it back, the person asking for your help was pouring on the praise?
In the past, I've found myself taking on clients who were wrong for me because they slathered on the praise about what a great coach I was. Frankly, it's embarrassing to admit to myself that I could be so easily blinded, so easily bought. But, just like my cat, who loves being a “good girl" and comes running when I call her, there is a need in me for appreciation, admiration, and love.
Realizing this can be liberating. Years ago, when I read “The Rules, " I took to heart that men will say almost anything on the first few dates to entice a woman, so I stopped paying attention to any talk of ‘our future, ’ or any compliments a guy might bring up-or, I should say, I took them with a grain of salt and then spent my time concentrating on what REALLY mattered-aka, whether I liked this person or not and whether I thought they would be compatible with me. So, generally speaking, I'm FAR less susceptible to flattery when I'm dating than I am in other areas of my life where I'm not expecting it.
The thing about dating is that I EXPECT there to be flattery-I mean, what's the point of dating someone if they don't find me scrumptiously interesting and attractive? In work, though, I forget to expect it, and that's when it blindsides me.
When a potential client is telling me how brilliant I am-which, on occasion, I very well may be-it's very important that I remember that the reason I'm having a discussion with them is to see whether or not we're a good coaching match-I'm determining if I could actually help them, if they're actually ready for coaching, if they're willing to do the work involved to change their life, and whether I would actually enjoy being on the phone with them regularly. But when I'm busy thinking, “Wow! She thinks I'm brilliant! That must mean I could really help her, since she obviously thinks so highly of me!" when I'm thinking that, I'm actually NOT thinking about the potential client at all-I'm only seduced by their flattery. It's the flattery I like, not necessarily THEM.
So, what do I do about it? I do like I did with dating-I remember to expect it. Just like I'm susceptible to colds in the winter so I wash my hands more often, I remember that I am also susceptible to flattery. Which means that I must take it with a grain of salt. By that I mean, I can absolutely receive the praise but then, as I say “Thank you" and file the praise away, I get back to the business of listening to my heart and my gut to tell me whether this is a person or situation I actually want to be involved with-AS IF THEY HAD NEVER PRAISED ME AT ALL. That's what I've found works to turn up the volume on my silenced intuition-once I take the flattery OUT of the equation, I can hear my heart and gut again.
How often do you find yourself allowing people and situations to enter your life because you feel flattered, complimented, needed? Do you regret those choices later? What would happen if you took in the praise (heck, it may be TRUE, after all!) and then pretended like it never happened and THEN made your decision about the situation? Would that change the outcome? I invite you to try it this week.
(c) 2008 Rebecca P. Soulette
Life Coach, Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III, is a senior level coach certified through the Fearless Living Institute. She is an expert in helping her clients to live fulfilling and balanced lives packed full of inspiration, joy, and freedom. She offers FREE ecourses, resources, teleclasses, private 1:1 and group coaching. For more information or to sign up for her FREE email newsletter, check out http://www.RebeccaSoulette.com
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