I have given hundreds of speeches at industry events over the years. Most of the time – and I’m not bragging – there’s a line of people waiting to talk to me after a presentation (and it’s usually not because of something I said on stage).

Surprisingly, many of them are lining up to give me their views on the industry, even when they know their views are against the advice I give. Are these people trying to fight with me? No, they are simply doing what we do every day: seeking validation.

Why do we seek validation?

It is human nature to seek validation from others. We do it every day. We seek the approval of our colleagues, friends and loved ones on numerous topics (of course, some are more consequential than others). Take a moment to think about this: Do you have more or less in common with the people you surround yourself with? More, right? This is because we tend to gravitate towards people who confirm who we think we are, what we think we believe and what we think we want to hear.

We seek confirmation because we want to be right, not wrong, but this mindset undermines judgment in many ways. For example, truth becomes fiction. While approval-seeking behavior isn’t always a bad thing, it can be, especially when it comes to business.

Why is approval seeking behavior bad for businesses?

By keeping your prospects, you miss out on opportunities. You can’t have an open mind if you are committed to protecting your opinions. It just doesn’t work that way. As an entrepreneur, you should always strive to do better. You can’t do this if you are stuck in your ways. Validation-seeking behavior also makes you dependent on others and how small
entrepreneur (as you well know) you can’t always rely on other people to help you make business decisions.

At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your brand and how your business operates. While it’s okay to solicit feedback from your peers, you should only do so if you’re willing to learn, not if you’re just looking for validation.

How to Avoid Validation Search Behaviors

Always listen: Really listen to what is being said. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t stick to your guns when you’re right – you definitely should – but I’m saying you should always take the opportunity to hear what’s being said before you cross out anything. You owe it to yourself and your business.

Be open to taking opportunities to consider other points of view when you can. It’s okay to challenge yourself. Be naturally curious. Instead of seeking validation, seek the truth. Listen carefully to your colleagues and customers. Find out if you are on the same page.

If there is a difference in perspective, understand why. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. The important thing is to learn and grow as an entrepreneur. If you do your best to avoid validating search behaviors, your business will not only grow, but thrive for years to come.

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