SOCIAL APPROVAL: Mental barriers of SUCCESS (Part 5)

Human beings are social creatures. We need social interactions in order for us to be happy and to thrive. Also, this same notion of being social was responsible for  the growth of our civilization, it all happened by sharing ideas, developing them and critiquing them.

Because of the social interactions we worked in collaborations and eventually built tribes that helped us overcome out basic necessities and our ancestors went on to built monuments and cities that gave birth to our current economies and values.

Now, things have evolved and our basic necessities are being met and our economy is now moving from resource or manual based to intellectual economy.  For example back in 1800s there were no jobs for app developers because there was no such thing as internet or an iphone

With changing economy and social interactions becoming more transparent, it also creates a problem of being bullied on internet, being a target of criticism and instant feedback.

It’s no longer about running commercials and convincing the audience to buy your product. Today, it’s driven by social proof and social approval.



So, now question is what is social approval, from psychology’s perspective?

According to psychologists and consumer behaviour experts “Social approval is the positive evaluation of an individual, thing or group in a social context.

The social reinforcement provided has significant implications for social behavior, in which people will consistently act in ways to win approval and avoid criticism.”

In simple terms, social approval is when society evaluates you and the evaluation changes your behaviour, and now you are constantly looking to win their approval and avoid criticism from them.

Now you must be wondering Why is this even considered a mental barrier for your personal or entrepreneurial success?

Just imagine being a creative like a photographer, movie director, author or an entrepreneur, and you always trying  to gain approval of others can backfire. Because it’s like trying to decipher how an interviewer is perceiving your answers, you will easily stumble over your words. Or even worse—thinking about the other person’s response could cause you to tune out the conversation altogether or in entrepreneurial way you will totally be distracted from the initial reason why you started this endeavour and will end up making the journey miserable and leading to a burnout.  

This will impact your ability to be creative, to innovate and for those who are currently working full time it will stop you from transitioning to being an entrepreneur where you can apply your skills with more freedom and creativity.

Social approval not only adversely impacts innovation and creativity but it in fact results in poor personal performance and self- esteem.


According to research conducted  by Dr. Papaioannou at the University of Thessaly.

Where 863 participants, who were all athletes, were asked to complete a self assessment report on the perception of  their colleagues, best friends, spouses and parents  on achievement of their goals.

The results of this research concluded in essence that the more supportive the perception athletes had of their peers, friends, spouses, and parents more they were able to achieve their goals, had more stable emotions and behaviours.


How to:

Therefore social approval is important for our performance, but we have two hacks for overcoming this barrier.

Step 1: Apply Dunbar’s numbers approach and do a relationship reboot.


Step 2:  Identifying strong personal internal achievements that can eliminate the impact of need for social approval.


Apple is the best example of sticking to their internal values, when all phones were competing over specs, apple maintained their value system of making sure that their software and hardware work in harmony. Even their camera’s were and still are the best in smartphones with relatively low pixel count than competitors.


Now competitors like Samsung have even focused more on improving the software and hardware as opposed to just shipping camera with high megapixel count vs focusing on aspects like saturation, low light performance etc. Sorry, I love photography and tech so I get carried away with tech talks.

By applying this methods you need to identify 2 things

  • If you had nothing with you, what’s one thing about yourself you will value and appreciate the most?
  • Now, every time you are at a point where either your product needs further development or you personally need to perform better remember to identify with this one thing you just identified, it will always keep you in positive mindset and appreciative of what you have no matter what is being perceived about you or your endeavours socially.

Sometimes, haveing a thick sick and believing in yourself can go far than constantly changing and worrying about social perception and reception.



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