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The Need for Acknowledgement


Explanations > Needs > The Need for Acknowledgement

Need | Example | Related to | Discussion |  So what?




We all have a need to be recognized and acknowledged by others. We hate it when people seem not to notice us or forget us when we have met before.


A person walks past a beggar on the street without even looking at them. The beggar feels even worse about themself.

A teacher takes time to say hello to each child, every day. The students in the class all work harder as they feel important in some way as a result of the greeting.

A celebrity feels important and looks right through people they do not know, as if they were not there.

Related to


Part of Related to
Identity Acceptance, Connect



When people fail even to notice us, we feel that we do not exist, at least for them, and hence our sense of identity is diminished. This is even more fundamental than the need for acceptance.

When people acknowledge us, even briefly, we feel a connection with them. This is a step towards bonding and the joining of identities.

There is a sequence of acknowledgement (recognizing the person), approval (evaluating the person) and acceptance before a person is admitted to a group and so achieve the need for belonging. With further approval they gain respect, esteem and consequent status, in which they gain power and consequent control.

It can be a power move to not acknowledge people. People in high office can be seen to ignore the people lower down the tree. This sends a signal of their superiority.

So what?

Take time to acknowledge the people around you. Do not just walk past. Smile and greet them. Even just looking at them is better than looking past them.

When people ignore you, rather than feel bad, you can decide to do interesting experiments, like ignoring them in return or getting so in their face they have to acknowledge you. A simple move is to 'accidentally' bump into them. Say nothing and see what they do or say.

See also

Bonding principle

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