I have an odd relationship with pride. When my boss would tell me he was proud of me, I never felt very good. Saying, “I’m so proud of you,” seemed like he was taking credit for whatever I had accomplished. Or maybe I was being told that the main aim of my job was to make him proud. His statement was more about him than about me.
Maybe I’m being ultra sensitive. But if you grow up in Minnesota, pride—or feeling proud of yourself—is not a positive thing. If you come too close to feeling prideful or exhibiting signs of pride, you would most likely be met with the response, “You’re not all that.” Most of the time, that response was conveyed with a frown or sideways glance; rarely were words needed.
And yet one of my most precious memories involves my father being proud of me. Of course, he never told me that. True to our Midwestern roots, we subscribe to Garrison Keillor’s adage, “You’re pretty good, and that’s good enough.” I found out about it in typical Minnesota fashion: I heard it from someone else.
It happened at a family celebration, with all near and distant relatives and friends in attendance. I sat down to visit with some cousins shortly after dad had left their table. One cousin pulled me aside and said, “Your dad was just here. He said, ‘That Barb…she doesn’t have a job; she has a position.’ He is so proud of you.”
Perhaps it is that, as children, many of us have a deep need to know that our parents are proud of us; that they are happy we turned out okay. But in the workplace I don’t want to be treated like a kid. I want to be respected for what I bring to the table and what I accomplish. Instead of telling me you’re proud of me, tell me you appreciate my work and my efforts. That comment will make my day.
If you’re feeling proud of me for what I do, I’m okay with that. But keep it to yourself, please.