The hard truth about 'People Pleasers'
Are you a People Pleaser?
I’m pretty sure that most women that read this will say ‘Yes’. In fact, not only might you say Yes, but you may do so with a slight smirk and perhaps a smidgen of smugness… “Yes, it’s up to me to do everything and solve everyone’s problems”.
So, before I make myself incredibly unpopular by issuing some hard truths (truths that I know you will one day appreciate) I will acknowledge that, as women, we are strong multitaskers and carers that generally and genuinely want the best for those around us, even if it does us the occasional disservice. But the truth is, we are yet stronger when we are happy, healthy and developing ourselves.
That being the case, I go on.
My premise is that People Pleasers, people that say Yes to almost everything asked of them, even those things that are burdensome or deemed unfair, need to check their priorities. By taking on responsibilities without stopping to consider the alternatives, you are failing to engage your noggin! Whether you find yourself taking on the lion’s share of administrative tasks, rushing home to prep dinner, being the last in the office to ensure tomorrow’s big presentation is ‘just so’, or making sure you’re the one to provide regular entertainment for your aging parents, consider this: Could your time, effort and abilities be better served elsewhere? Is this the task that someone else should be taking on right now?
Now, if you have a problem saying ‘No’, be it confidence, character or discipline, I think you’re going to like this next bit.
To say No can be seen as unnecessarily petty or combative, but doing everything yourself is often just a quick fix. You can be helpful and take responsibility for finding a solution without having to BE the solution. Things are not black and white. Yes and No represent two polar opposite ends of the spectrum, between these two points is the colour, not grey areas, but points at which context and options come alive. When you engage your mind to move past ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, you find ways to be more effective and add real value.
Let’s take my fictitious friend ‘Jane’. I feel comfortable using fictitious characters because you’ll likely see yourself in one of these scenarios.
Jane is a writer. She writes internal communications for her company, and has recently launched a restaurant blog. Her dream is to transition into food journalism and her blog is just the thing that might get her there. But instead of spending her evenings blogging, her time is taken up proof-reading; taking various documents home to act as a ‘second pair of eyes’ for co-workers. Not because her eyes are any better that anyone else’s (and she’s certainly no more diligent than Grammarly!) but because her one time offer to a friendly colleague has gone out of control and she’s failed to put an end to it. There are proof-reading options that do not end with her having to say Yes every time.
Or there’s equally fictitious Sian. Rather than going to the gym on a Saturday morning – the thing that makes her feel good about herself and puts a spring in her step for the week ahead – she uses the time to clean. She can afford a cleaner, has the number for a recommended cleaner and she sometimes daydreams about coming home to a clean house. But instead, she considers it her responsibility to provide a clean home for her family and takes on the role personally. It’s not that she shouldn’t clean, but her mental health and quality time with family may be worth the $25 per week investment.
In short, continue to be the powerhouse doer and multi-tasker you know you are, just be smart about it. You could be improving your horizons by finding solutions that benefit the whole situation rather than constantly providing the quick fix. So prioritize using your brain, look to leverage your skills, unlock value and make conscientious decisions. Developing a talent or improving your mental and physical health could leave you feeling the sense of achievement and freedom you crave, so look to the space between Yes and No and remember to include yourself among the people you want to please in life.