Breathe Issue 21

‘Did I do okay?’, ‘Did I say the right thing?’, ‘Did I seem professional?’. Questions, questions, questions – all hinting at self-doubt, all suggestive of a desire for reassurance and a need for external validation. And all common parlance in the workplace, which, when you think about it, is natural. There can’t be many people, after all, who’ve never felt the need to ask for a second opinion on a project or an assessment of their efforts.

Requesting feedback is positive in itself and will be welcomed by managers who value, nurture and encourage their team. An over-reliance on external reassurance, however, could be a sign of low self-esteem and a lack of self-worth. This could become tricky if a manager who’s comfortable giving praise as well as criticism is suddenly replaced by one who struggles to say a good word about anyone. Who’s going to deliver that much-needed daily dose of reassurance now?

Part of the answer lies in seeking validation outside of the working environment, from family and friends – and all the other people in your life who’ll confirm that ‘you’re good enough’. But, perhaps more importantly, it needs to come from within because self-validation will be there when managers change, when colleagues are less than supportive and if the work dries up.

A solid sense of self-worth will bring acknowledgement of intelligence and skills, recognition of sound judgment and an appreciation of personal effort and the true meaning of contribution at work, which could be making someone smile during a tough shift. It will confirm 100 per cent that you’re doing far more than okay. You’re doing great.