It’s nice to be nice!
It sounds like the kind of thing your Granny might have told you when you were growing up.
And it IS nice to be nice but not when it comes to the detriment of your own wants, needs, and potentially your mental health.
A people pleaser is somebody whom everyone considers helpful and kind, they are often the glue that holds a team together. When you need help, the people pleaser is more than willing to step up.
On the surface, being a people please is a way to earn brownie points, however, in the long term it can hold you back in your career:
- If you constantly make yourself available to others, it means that you have less time available to focus on your own career goals and aspirations.
- Your compulsion to be helpful and supportive may backfire and may be perceived as lacking conviction, assertiveness and courage.
- When you are keen to earn approval you may be reluctant to challenge ideas, even when you know they are wrong or that you have a better solution.
- It can be emotionally draining to constantly worry about what other people think and whether you are disappointing them with your actions.
To break free of this pattern of people pleasing, you need to be more selfish (in a positive way!).
1. Focus on what is important to you
Knowing what is important to you and your key priorities in life and at work is an important first step.
- What do you want from your career?
- What do you want your life to look like?
- What are your core values and how well are they fulfilled at work?
If there is a significant mismatch between what you want from work and your current state, then it is time to make some changes.
2. Articulate the gap between where you are and where you want to be
Create two images.
One to represent your life right now (this is a great excuse to break out the stationery, A3 paper, coloured pens, post it notes – the whole shebang!) and the second to represent what you would like life to be like in the future.
Identify the differences between where you are and where you want to be. Look specifically at where your work fits into these pictures and work out what changes you need to make.
3. Take the First Step
Letting go of your people pleasing tendencies doesn’t require you to have a complete personality change overnight. You can start small and make gradual changes while you retrain yourself and others about your limits and what you are willing to do.
You can start by saying no to smaller requests, express your opinion about a trivial matter or speak up and ask for something that you need.
Every small step that you take helps you to gain confidence and retrains your brain so that a people pleasing response will no longer be your default.
4. Establish Boundaries
People pleasers find the idea of boundaries deeply uncomfortable. However, it’s important to know your limits and also communicate those limits. The clearer and more specific you can be about what you are willing to take on at work the better.
If somebody is asking for too much of your time or too much of your input to a specific project, let them know it is more than you are willing to do. Also, let them know what is out of bounds and what you are willing to do.
5. Be Unapologetic
A default response for a people pleaser is “I’m sorry”. This is an important habit to unlearn. You are allowed to express your thoughts and your needs clearly and firmly, you don’t need to apologise!
If you would like an impartial conversation about how you can overcome your people pleasing tendencies, then feel free to book in my diary to talk about Career Coaching – I’d love to help you – here is a link to my diary.
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