“Hey Dad, Look at Me!” and other cries for attention

“Hey Dad, look at me!” It’s a simple cry for acknowledgement, an effort at gaining recognition, or simple a moment of pride wanting to be shared… As we grow up, or at least grow older, the same cry takes on many other forms.

Maybe a good friend and peer just finished a big project and was recognized for it, and in the break room later they say “I’m so glad that is over! That was more than I bargained for!” Or your spouse just spent two hours on the heat trimming those shrubs that were taking over the yard, and says “I’m so glad that is done, but it looks good finally.” Or we notice the new blouse she is wearing and we dampen the opportunity with “is that new?” when we could have actually complemented how nice it looked on her, rather than the newness.

In reading “10 Phrases for Positive People” by Rich DeVos, I learned that its not simply our children that are saying “look at me!” Our friends, spouses, peers, employees, and others who need or simply want our attention and approval reach out with overt or subtle “look at me” cues… And what we do with those says a lot about us.

DeVos gives many examples of how simply noticing others and recognizing them with the 10 simple but powerful phrases makes a difference to them, and to you.

Here are some personal examples of how I have screwed up “look at me” moments.

“I know! I saw that.” This is a way we turn THEIR moment away from them and back onto us. We are so good we already saw it, but chose not to recognize it… And “I know” just reinforces our ego overriding their achievement.
“I did the same thing once. It was awesome!” Our ego rises up and will want to deflect the conversation back to us… I does NOT matter to anyone but ourselves at that moment, so it is selfish to try to take the spotlight from them and put it back on ourself.
“I see that.” Ouch. You just reinforced that you not only saw their moment or product or result, but you chose not to recognize it even AFTER their “look at me” moment.
“Yep, but while you did that I was able to do xxxxxxx.” Again, your ego wins the day at the expense of theirs.
” .” The worst response to “look at me” – silence. You took took what could have been a minute to build self esteem, express gratitude, show appreciation, be respectful, a you instead chose to punch all of those things in the gut by withholding kindness.

Why withhold the words of recognition? Why put our ego over our ability to show respect, appreciation, gratitude? How long do we hold onto some personal grudge or pain from some lack of recognition in our past?

I feel the need to add that in a perfect world, everyone would own their own self esteem and we wouldn’t need to nuture each other. Until we get there, having the servant’s attitude and taking the few but precious moments to make someone feel special is a wonderful thing!You will see so much is gained by recognizing some one else’s “look at me.” Be that person that feeds their ego by feeding the needs of others first.


About Frank

Consultant to small business owner/operators who want to grow their income, improve their efficiency, and implement successful systems to maximize productivity.
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