Does a compliment forcefully extracted from the giver ultimately devalue the message?
I believe it does.
Time and time again we are constantly asked whether we “like” this; whether this looks good on me; or, what do you think of my new (insert clothing item, gadget)? Perhaps even the expectation that the item you have needlessly taken from your bag and left on your desk, despite its irrelevance to your workplace, somehow adds to your social standing, intellect or, for want of a better word, “coolness”.
When asked these questions in an office or social situation, what answer would I give other than my default, and that which is also expected by the asker, “of course, looks great / your doing great / yes so cool”.
Compliment extracted, “like” button pushed, ticket validated. Here, have an M&M.
Whilst I am not saying there should be no recognition of achievement or personal development, nor even of effort in failed attempt, however I assure you I will, and do notice. That is, I will notice meaningful achievement (a category in which I do not put your latest purchase). As a result, I am far more likely to give thoughtful, honest, constructive, and heartfelt feedback or encouragement than simply throwing the fourth M&M of the day your way because we are already up to question (compliment extraction) number four – and it’s not even lunch.
The positivity, or even honesty in my response is inversely proportional to the number of times you ask, because eventually I just don’t want to hear about you anymore.
Surely a full, sit down meal would be much more rewarding than extracting, accumulating and consuming one thousand M&Ms. Apart from being far more satisfying, it will give you much greater energy and drive to achieve the aims you have set for yourself, rather than wasting energy chasing the next M&M.
Do we really need some external validation for every single (mostly consumer driven) decision we make? The answer to that question increasingly seems to be yes. If not for some kind of validation, then it becomes somehow linked to inching up our social standing – I am better or cool because I have this, am doing or reading this, or “like” this.
We often read how publicly set goals will assist us to be more accountable. That may be true, however I do not believe the premise behind this is for you to achieve (what you think) is ascendancy over your friends or colleagues by a constant barrage of everything you have bought, are buying, or doing (and since when is buying an actual achievement?). Set significant goals for yourselves on the inside people, and let those who do just that, every single day, go about achieving theirs without having to validate every single step of yours.
Where you aim, set a path to, and achieve the desired result you have set for yourself, is, I believe, where you will find a true sense of self worth, satisfaction, confidence, and most importantly the desire to repeat the process. The real key is that this occurs in the context of, but independent to, what influences or opinions there are around you.
I think that regardless of how many people you ask, you know (or should know), the real answer, and whether this meets the standards you have set for yourself, reflects the person you want to be, or is even the right question to ask in the first place.
That is for you alone to ask, answer, and continue along your way.