Humans are social beings, we need to be close to others. But we don’t do this just because we feel more comfortable in the presence of others. Or even out of an unselfish social sense. There is also a completely egoistic end in itself: Our life chances are increased.
“One for all, all for one!”
…why we are thrown into the world with an sophisticated system of sensors and skills that help us join groups, orient ourselves within them, and find our place: We put ourselves in others’ shoes, empathise, pick up on moods and deduce what is appropriate at the moment or even expected of us in the longer term. Then we adapt our behaviour accordingly.
We do this all the time. And largely unconsciously.
This also means
…that the evaluation criteria that our environment defines for success immediately and automatically (!) also apply to us. Whether we like it or not.
With very fine antennae we pick up what is required. In doing so, we pay little or no attention to what is said. What is decisive for us is what others do:
- The colleagues are buying a drink on the occasion of their birthday? Then I will probably also bring a few bottles of champagne and a cake.
- The dishes are piling up in the department kitchen? Then I won’t take it too seriously either.
- Most of all, we look at what leaders and opinion leaders do: The boss writes emails at night? Then that’s probably expected of me too.
Through this archaic-intuitive code of conduct, we know: By following the predominantly unspoken group rules, we get recognition and status.
To strive for both
… and thus gain social acceptance makes socio-psychological sense: it gives us security. And security is THE basic human need par excellence. That is what we strive for first and foremost.
“To be accepted by others represents not only a psychological, but a basic biological need.” (Joachim Bauer)
… security is only one of our important needs. At least as important (and increasingly important as we get older) is that we realise ourselves.
We want to live our lives as we believe is right for us. We want to decide for ourselves and freely what we want to achieve for ourselves, what is important to us and how we achieve it. Of course, we continue to be influenced by the values and norms of our environment.
In the end, however, and mostly in secret, we do not allow ourselves to be talked into it:
What is important to us and how we measure success is and remains: Our business alone!
This, of course, provides much material
… for conflicts with oneself and the world. The one who always ignores norms and values of the community and enforces or tries to enforce his own ideas runs the risk of being permanently excluded there./1/
On the opposing wrong track
… on the other hand, is the one who relies exclusively on the fulfilment of external demands and social recognition. For he permanently betrays his own goals, desires and values, which in the long run leads to a loss of self-respect.
That is frustrating.
<However, personal success means being satisfied. That is why it is important to deal with conflicts of goals and values and to resolve them in one’s own interest. This is the only way to explore the scope we have in order to use it for what is important to us. To do this in a self-determined and flexible way means personal success.
I can only manage this
… if I honestly answer for myself what I necessarily need, I necessarily want, I necessarily want to achieve. Because when it comes to social and professional success, many people have a say. Preferably, however, it should only be those people whom I allow and with whom I really want to be together.
That should better be my call.
Notes & Links
- /1/ In the case of conflicts of values, this is not so unusual. For the individual as well as for the group, it is a serious, and usually good, alternative to then go separate ways and group differently.
- Bauer, Joachim: Das Prinzip Menschlichkeit. Warum wir von Natur aus kooperieren.
- Roth, Gerhard: Persönlichkeit, Entscheidung und Verhalten. Warum es so schwierig ist, sich und andere zu ändern.
- Roth, Gerhard: Über den Menschen.