Acceptance is a funny thing. While we often are content to have no one in direct defiance of what we do, more often we seek the endorsement of our closest friends and family. Occasionally, we seek the endorsement of those who know us in passing or not at all. There is no salary in this endorsement, at least not of a monetary nature.
If we are not talking about being paid millions to wear a piece of clothing or drive a particular car, what sort of endorsement are we seeking? Let’s consult Merriam Webster. When we want someone to endorse our behavior, we want them:
2. a : to approve openly <endorse an idea>; especially : to express support or approval of publicly and definitely
The level of endorsement is up to interpretation. We are willing to accept No news is good news. If there is no one openly, publicly and definitely disapproving or reprimanding us, we consider it tacit endorsement.
While we seek the approval of Mate, BFF, Parent, Sibling and Quaint first, we do seek the endorsement of everyone. No? Would you like to avoid any of the following situations?
- Disapproving look of someone observing your appearance on the street
- Vocal opposition to a proposed idea, improvement or recommendation
- Noting of minuscule imperfection of a satisfactory product
- Pointing out disparities between your beliefs and reality
- Skepticism of your authority
Oh, we do seek endorsement from everyone.
In the truest sense, endorsement is about public acknowledgement; however, getting someone to commit to a public endorsement is difficult on the best days. People are not moved to openly stand behind anyone else, especially if the behavior was not originally their idea or a core of their belief system. They are willing to stand in the background, out of others’ fields of vision, and cheer.
Getting them to shake the pompoms when you stand before your detractors or audience is far less likely. They are willing to risk reputation and ridicule of their own actions, but not those of anyone else.
In the face of others’ fear of guilt by association, we will take the backroom cheerleaders as endorsers, engineering endorsements.
More contrived than the engineered endorsement is the acceptance of tacit endorsement. Although it is false, we will accept it in lieu of no endorsement at all. How is it false?
Many people operate under the principle:
Therefore, their failure to (object to, ridicule, dissociate themselves from) our actions and statements does not mean they approve of either. The absence of a negative does not indicate a positive. Likewise, neutrality is not the same as endorsement.
Be careful when gauging the amount of support you have for an idea or action. Just because no one came to you to tell you it was wrong does not mean there are not people who do think it is wrong.
How often have you been the cheerleader from the safety of a private conversation where no one would ever find out you told someone you supported them? Did you do it for a friend or family member who is a true endorser?
Even though we seek the endorsement of those around us, we rarely afford them reciprocity. Like those who engineer endorsement of us, we respond in kind. It is the way we show support for one another without compromising our (reputations, belief systems, ideals). This is a place where equality is truly less authentic.
In order to ethically endorse, we have to be convicted the stance or action is defensible and congruent with our characters. That happens to be a tall order because we are individuals with varied beliefs. Engineered and excruciating endorsements are strictly unethical. They require a level of dishonesty.
- Exaggerating support to endorsement seeker
- Omission of support when around dissidents
- Claiming support when none has been offered
Were we honest with ourselves and those seeking our endorsement we would come right out and say…
Just because someone does not endorse your idea or current behavior does not mean they disapprove of you as a person. It is perfectly possible to love people, but hate the things they do or say. Lack of endorsement is not the only reflection of your character. Your endorsement is far more important.
Do you have someone you love, but hate some of the things they do or say? Can you stop engineering endorsement?
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(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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