Sense & Sensitivity

Friend Seeks Validation for His Work

DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend has been complaining about how his co-worker is always looking for validation. This same friend comes to me on a regular basis looking for validation himself. This dude sends me samples of his work so I can give my “honest opinion.” The work is good, but I’ve had enough. Once in a while, it’s OK, but this has become more and more frequent. How do I explain to him he’s doing the same thing that he’s complaining to me about? -- Enough Validation, San Diego

DEAR ENOUGH VALIDATION: Usually what upsets people in others is exactly what is true about them, though they rarely notice it. In your friend’s case, it is true that most people crave validation. We all want to feel loved, respected and seen. Depending upon our backgrounds, the need for external support can vary dramatically.

A kind way for you to address this situation is to tell your friend that what you know about people, pretty much all people, is that we want to be accepted and respected. Point out that you have noticed that he gets frustrated by the co-worker who constantly wants validation, and you understand that it can get tiring at times. Then gently point out that your friend does the same thing with you. Be prepared to give a couple of examples, as he is likely unconscious of his behavior. Give him space to be embarrassed, but point out that we are all in this thing called life together. We need to give each other some slack and work on being more confident from the inside out.

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