What to Do When Your Hard Work Goes Unnoticed

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You put in long hours, toiling away with vigor, polishing your masterpiece.

Finished, you flash a proud smile, anticipating the recipient’s reaction.

You just know they’ll love it.

You submit your work.

Then you wait for the praise to descend.

But you get dreaded silence instead. You’re crushed. How do you handle this feeling?

Know That It Is In Our Nature to Want Recognition

Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theory of human motivation includes man’s esteem needs, which says that people in general want or need achievement and respect from others. Maslow breaks up esteem needs into two categories: the desire for achievement, confidence, independence and freedom; and the desire for prestige, appreciation, recognition, attention and importance. According to Maslow, when these needs are satisfied, we experience feelings of worth, strength, confidence and adequacy.

Accept Your Negative Emotions

Rather than deny your feelings, embrace them for a moment. If your boss fails to tell you what an impressive job you did, accept that you’re disappointed. If you’re a performing artist and the audience didn’t applaud you, admit that you wish they had. You might experience other negative emotions besides disappointment, such as anger toward the lack of appreciation or insecurity about the quality of your work. You must experience negative emotions to overcome them, so do not be afraid to admit what you’re feeling.

Avoid Dependency on Recognition

It’s natural to want attention, but you should not become completely dependent on it, or else each time you don’t receive the response you expected, you’ll find your confidence growing shakier than the last time. Before you know it, recognition starts becoming a drug to you.

Love What You Do

You need to love what you do. If you’re working only to receive praise, then the motivation for doing your task is ego-based and you’re likely to give up because your heart isn’t in it. If you sincerely love what you do, once your negative emotions wear off, your passion for your work will remain. You will keep at it because your love is true. Even if you never receive any recognition for your hard work, your adoration for what you do will not let you quit.

Remember That Not Everyone Is Verbally Expressive

Some people are just not verbally appreciative. Your friend probably liked that neat drawing you emailed to him. But for whatever reason, he didn’t say it. He probably didn’t think it was that important. Or he’s probably not adept at giving compliments. Don’t write him off too soon, because one day when you least expect it, he might tell you how much he appreciates your work.

Use Objectivity When Requesting Feedback

Think rationally about the job you did. Though you worked hard on your performance, the recipient might not deem it up to par. If necessary, ask someone who can give you honest, expert advice to critique your work. Ask the recipient if everything is okay with the work you submitted. Do not appear as though you’re fishing for compliments. Instead, display a genuine desire to know whether you did the task to their satisfaction. Accept constructive criticism graciously and apply it to future projects. If you work for an employer that keeps ignoring your hard work, you might need to concoct an exit strategy, which includes working for an employer that appreciates and rewards your skills.

Written on 12/30/2013 by Grace Ferguson. Grace Ferguson is a writer who specializes in web content, marketing copy, and fiction writing for private clients and online publications. She’s also a blogger at wherechangestarts.wordpress.com, where she offers tips on business and personal improvement.

Photo Credit: Steven Depolo

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