Am I addicted to recognition? 10 test questions - Lifecoach München

Am I addicted to recognition? 10 test questions

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Silvia makes a confident impression, but appearances are deceptive. She has a secure job as a civil servant, but Long Covid means she can only work part-time. At work, she feels unappreciated by her boss. She works as much as others do full time. She gets praise for that from time to time, but it feels kind of arbitrary and inauthentic. She doesn’t get the recognition she wants.

She used to fare differently when she had a compassionate boss, who has now unfortunately retired. He was very direct and sometimes hurtful, but the appreciation Sivia received from him seemed to come from the heart. She cannot explain what the reason for this was. In the private sphere, Silvia also has problems. Her main concern there is poor communication in her partnership. Here, too, the topic of recognition – as will become clear – plays a central role.



1 Meaning of recognition in Silvia
2 Test: Am I addicted to recognition?
3 What is recognition?
4 Is praise manipulative?
5 Assistance Life Coach
6 Recognition in psychology
7 Need for recognition graphic (Silvia)
8 Breakdown of test questions Praise, appreciation


Meaning of recognition in Silvia


Emotional coldness

In the first session, it becomes clear that Silvia’s feelings are not deceiving her: her current boss does not have her in mind, but only her performance. His spare compliments are insincere. He hasn’t even asked how she is doing with her Long Covid diagnosis. Because communication is so poor and the boss keeps throwing tantrums, Silvia comes to the conclusion that things can’t go on like this and that she needs to change something about this situation and possibly even consider changing careers.


new department

A few weeks later, she can change departments. Her new supervisor is a woman. This one is a bit shy, but very empathetic. With her, Silvia manages communication much better and the most important thing: The new boss can really listen. Silvia is happy about the new appreciation she gets.


Poor communication

The second guiding theme is communication with her boyfriend. He quickly becomes emotional or angry in conversations. Silvia usually holds against it. Because she is rhetorically superior to him, unnecessary conflicts arise time and again. Her boyfriend has not studied and feels inferior to Silvia, although he is well versed in many subjects. He compensates for his perceived inferiority by reading a lot and watching a lot of YouTube movies. Silvia considers whether psychotherapy could help him, but he refuses.



I recommend Silvia to adopt a more value-free attitude. She understands that his need for recognition is great in the discussions we have together. Instead of being cool about it, she now shows empathy by simply asking about it with interest. Her boyfriend is now adopting this non-judgmental attitude more and more, which has visibly improved communication in the relationship. He now feels perceived and valued, and so does Silvia.


Test recognition

Answer “yes” or “no” to the questions. [unten Aufschlüsselung]

1) Making decisions is easy for me.
2) I sometimes neglect myself by working too much.
3) My parents had high expectations of me.
4) I rarely depend on others in making decisions and achieving goals.
5) If I don’t get praise for a long time, I feel bad.
6) When I get criticism, I can handle it well.
7) I often think about how I appear to others.
8) I often compare myself with others, especially with people who live their vocation.
9) Saying no is easy for me.
10) I share with others what is going on inside me, I am not afraid of unpleasant reactions.


What is recognition?

Recognition, according to psychologist Steven Reiss, is about being appreciated for who you are. Here, then, Reiss emphasizes the appreciative component of recognition. This need is called “desire for approval” by Reiss.

In English, the difference between praise and appreciation is even more pregnant: “Recognition is about what people do; appreciation is about who they are.” One can receive recognition in the form of praise or appreciation. However, there are some important differences between praise and appreciation:



1)The focus of praise is on the performance, not on the person being praised.
2) Praise is done “top down”, i.e. a superior praises his subordinate, not the other way around.
3) Praise can be manipulative, i.e. a means to an end, so that someone increases their performance, for example.
4) Praise can be addictive. Once praise fails to materialize, one feels less worthy, that is, inferior or even worthless. This can lead to burnout.
5) One consequence of this “addiction” is the feeling of being controlled by others.
6) Praise motivates only briefly, the effort quickly fizzles out.



1) The focus is on people, regardless of their performance.
2) Appreciation takes place at eye level.
3) Appreciation contains values such as honesty, respect and openness.
4) Self-worth increases with appreciation, since we are perceived as a whole person.
5) The experience of feeling valuable leads to self-determination, to a sense of freedom.
6) Appreciation is the driving force for motivation par excellence, if it is sincere and authentic.


So is praise manipulative and bad?

If there is a balance of praise and appreciation at work, there is nothing wrong with praise. If I am also recognized once in a while regardless of my performance, a compliment or praise comes across honestly.

If I am perceived as a person at work, i.e. if I receive attention and there is a friendly atmosphere, praise is not to be classified as manipulative or bad. If a general appreciation is completely missing, on the other hand, it is.


Assistance Life Coach

As has become clear in the example (Sivia’s recognition), recognition shows itself in different forms and in different areas of life. As a life coach, it’s important to listen carefully during conversations. Empathic listening is precisely the quality that is lacking in the absence of recognition. Hearing what someone has to say, what problems someone has, is in itself a sign of recognition.

I give Silvia simple exercises that she can implement in her professional life, but also in her private life. It’s about showing appreciation in the everyday. The best way to do that is through:

– showing interest, even in small talk
– less judgment, more appreciation
– the perception and expression of positive feelings
– the use of non-judgmental communication
– the turn in the body language


Recognition in psychology

Everyone wants to get recognition, wants to be liked or appreciated. It shows in our self-worth. In an intact childhood we get a lot of recognition and affection. The likelihood is then great to develop a positive mindset, and purposefully bring his strengths to bear.

But those who receive too little appreciation in childhood will later become addicted to it. A lack of recognition can have the following effects:

– Being non-stop in search of recognition (addictive behavior)
– want to do everything perfectly(perfectionism)
– feel quickly criticized and threatened (susceptibility to criticism)
– ruminate a lot(inner critic)
Fear & Shame
– feeling inferior (low self-worth)


Need for recognition (graphic)

The model below (Mrug’s self-esteem assessment) explains where Silvia and her friend fit in their struggle for recognition.

1) Defensive self-esteem 1:
Recognition through confirmation from outside -> Competence is exaggerated (friend Silvia)

2) High self-esteem:
Self-recognition -> Satisfaction =
(ideal state)

3) Low self-esteem:
Need for recognition manifests itself in withdrawal and avoidance -> Anxiety

4) Defensive self-esteem 2:
Recognition through achievement -> Perfectionism (Silvia)

Recognition model - self-esteem according to Mruk


Result self test

1 point for yes at: Question 2, 3, 5, 7, 8
1 point for no for question: 1, 4, 6, 9, 10

under 5 points:

You’re probably not addicted to recognition. You must have had enough affection and appreciation in your childhood. At least now you know enough people around you who value you as a person, as you are. So you don’t depend on praise and compliments from others for your self-worth.

over 5 points

You have rather great needs for recognition. Both professionally and personally, you need a lot of validation from others. In social interactions with family, friends or colleagues, you depend on what others think of you. If you get recognition, you are doing well; if you get too little or no recognition, you are not doing well. Your self-worth is rather low and fluctuates.


© Timo ten Barge [18 .11.2021]



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