Why Attention Seeking Isn’t Bad

Woman talking into megaphone

And How to Do it Right

There are plenty of good reasons to want attention.

You can be a great person with world-changing ideas, but that doesn’t matter if no one knows who you are. It is essential to put yourself in front of the world if you want to make things shake, but folks really don’t like attention-seeking behavior.

Attention-seeking behavior is defined as a conscious or unconscious attempt to become the center of attention, sometimes to gain validation or admiration. People view this behavior to be a sign of insecurity, jealousy, or loneliness. These are not things that garner positive attention from the world.

You may have seen this in people who fish for compliments by talking extensively about their accomplishments, or post about their insecurities in order to soak in responses that negate them. Maybe they add not-so-true elements to their stories to make them sound way cooler. (I’m guilty of that one.) We recognize these actions in the moment and become annoyed.

So if directly impressing people with our achievements or stories isn’t an option, how do we get the attention we desire without turning people off?

I’ve done some research, and here are a few ideas.

Do something unexpected

Anything outside of the usual can get attention by triggering people to ask questions. Maybe you receive an offer that looks really great from the outside, but you say no. That act can make people wonder, “who is this person?” and “why would they do that?”. 

People also don’t expect you to complain about things others keep quiet about. If your coworker openly spoke up about being underpaid, wouldn’t you admire them for their boldness? Exactly.

Surprised woman pointing at something
Image by JALAL SHEIKH from Pixabay

Acknowledge the greatness in others

Negative attention-seeking behavior is selfish. Putting the spotlight on others, however, is the complete opposite. By showing appreciation to other great people, your audience sees that you don’t think you’re too good to give some thanks.

This garners the good kind of attention; the attention that believes us to be good.

Show passion

A person who goes on about something they are truly passionate about is unequivocally interesting. Imagine trying to engage with someone who has no hobby, or no cause they care about. How is that even remotely fun?

When we add some fire to our words and actions, we gain positive admiration. Doing something passionately is way cooler than any made-up story.

Offer a unique idea 

Give me something I haven’t heard before! Give a unique perspective on one of the controversial topics we all hear about, be that minimum wage, or privacy, or whatever you have some real thoughts about. 

People are tired of hearing the same things day in and day out. Give something new for the people to chew on, and attention will follow.

man with lightbulb for head, showing visual for idea

Share your current actions, not your past accomplishments

Who cares about what you did last year, what are you contributing right now? I read somewhere that no one wants to see a picture of the food you ate, post the video of you cooking it instead. People love to see you in action, not hear about what you supposedly did before.

If you want people to know how smart you are, don’t talk about an awesome grade you got in college. Talk about the new thing you’ve been studying and get them interested in it as well.

Offer something in exchange

Have you ever had a new employee drop off donuts to the break room? Suddenly, they’re someone to be interested in. How generous of them!

Instead of asking people to give to you (their attention), give to them (something they want). That doesn’t have to be donuts. That can be compliments, a book recommendation, or any other number of things you may have to offer. To get attention without looking selfish, doing something entirely unselfish is key.

donuts on pink background
Image by Moon Bridge from Pixabay

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