Strains of the Rick Nelson song, Garden Party, float through my head, “You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.” If you are not familiar with the song, take a minute to listen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PECmjB9df0w. Am I being overly dramatic calling this article, Death by People-Pleasing? I don’t think so! There is a death of self when your very identity hinges on whether others approve of you and like you. This people-pleasing behavior will be pervasive in both your personal and professional life. How did you get in this pickle in the first place? What was it like in your home growing up? Was there addiction? You tried your best to appease them in hopes the addictive behavior would stop. Was there intense controlling behavior, anger, rage, or another dysfunction? As children, we try to manage our environment, as best we can. We may have the illusion of believing that if we are loveable enough, good enough, or pleasing enough, we can “fix” our world. That need to have an o.k. world follows us into adulthood and into the workplace.
Oprah, very astutely calls people-pleasing behavior, “the disease to please.” Don’t get me wrong, we all want to be liked, hope to be kind, and desire to be helpful but when you cross the line into people-pleasing there is a high price to pay. You may already know that this is an issue for you, but others may be unsure. Take this quick assessment:
- Struggle to say “no”
- Overly care what others think
- Feel guilty when not being compliant
- Worry that others will think you are mean or selfish
- Agree to things you don’t want to do
- Constantly say you are sorry
- Live for approval
- Take undo blame
- Have no free time
- Neglect your own needs
- Take on work of others to the detriment of your workload
- Match the opinion or behavior of others when it’s not sincerely yours
Sometimes the consequences must be drilled into our head to make a change. Long standing behaviors aren’t easy to change, I get that. Here are consequences of workplace people-pleasing behavior:
- High stress levels
- Constant anger
- Lack of happiness
- No time for self
- Being mistake prone
- Career stalling or derailment
Author, Mel Robbins wrote, “Letting things slide to keep the peace only starts a war inside of you.” No one want a war inside. How do you begin to change this behavior? When you have been people-pleasing for a long time, it may be hard to know what you want anymore. That’s a good place to begin. Sit down at your keyboard or a journal identifying things you want and need at work. You want more time to have your projects be excellent, more respect from your upper management or colleagues, time to attend professional development opportunities, shorter work hours, etc. Knowing what you want can motivate you to make changes. It’s really o.k. to have people not be thrilled with your choices, let them be disappointed, or surprised – you will survive. Heck, you may be surprised that their reaction is less dramatic than expected. It’s really o.k. to have a difference of opinion. It’s really o.k. to not always be agreeable. How do you morph this ingrained behavior? Boundaries will be your new watchword. Look at the tips in Kay’s Consulting Corner to start on some basic boundary setting. If your career is suffering because of people-pleasing behavior, ongoing coaching would be beneficial.
Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation.