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  • Writer's pictureGillian Brunton

Sit on your hands and bite your tongue!

People pleasing is one sign that you may be running imposter syndrome. It can have both positive and negative effects on your everyday life at home and at work.


On the positive side, people pleasing can help build stronger relationships with others, increase social acceptance and approval, and lead to greater feelings of happiness and self-worth. It can also help to avoid conflict and maintain a sense of harmony in relationships.


However, there are also negative effects associated with people pleasing. For example, it can lead to a lack of authenticity, as people may feel pressure to conform to the expectations of others rather than expressing their own true feelings and opinions. This can result in feelings of resentment, anxiety, and even depression. People pleasing can also lead to a tendency to overcommit, as people may feel pressure to say yes to every request or invitation, even if it is not in their best interest or if they don't have the time or resources to follow through. This can lead to burnout and feelings of overwhelm.


Overall, while people pleasing can have some positive effects, it is important to find a balance between meeting the needs of others and taking care of your own needs and boundaries. It is important to be honest with yourself and others about what you are willing and able to do, and to prioritise your own well-being above the desire to please others.

Is there a way to stop it?


If you want to stop people pleasing, here are some strategies that may be helpful:

1. Identify your own needs and priorities: It's important to have a clear understanding of your own needs and priorities, so you can make decisions that align with them. Take some time to reflect on what's important to you and what you want to achieve in your life.

2. Practice saying "no": Saying "no" can be difficult for people pleasers, but it's important to set boundaries and not overcommit yourself. Start by saying "no" to small requests and work your way up to bigger ones. Remember that it's okay to say no and that you don't have to justify your decision.

3. Be assertive: Assertiveness is about expressing your needs and opinions in a clear and respectful way. Practice being assertive in situations where you might normally be a people pleaser. Start with small things and work your way up to more challenging situations.

4. Learn to acknowledge any discomfort: People pleasing can be a way of avoiding uncomfortable emotions like guilt, shame, and anxiety. Learning to accept and acknowledge these emotions and sitting with them can help you overcome the need to people please. Feel how they make you feel both emotionally and physically.


5. Seek support: It can be helpful to talk to a coach about your people pleasing tendencies. They can provide support and help you work through any underlying issues that may be contributing to your people pleasing behaviour.


Remember that changing behaviour takes time and effort, so be patient with yourself and celebrate your progress along the way.


What if saying no to something leads to conflict?

It's possible that saying "no" may lead to conflict, especially if you are used to always saying "yes" and people are not used to hearing "no" from you. You saying yes, might have created a culture of accepted behaviour. However, it's important to remember that standing up for yourself and setting boundaries is a healthy and necessary aspect of any relationship. Here are some tips on how to handle potential conflict:


1. Stay calm: If the other person reacts negatively to your "no," it's important to stay calm and avoid getting defensive or emotional. Take a few deep breaths and try to stay focussed.


2. Be clear and respectful: When saying "no," be clear and respectful in your communication. State your reasons for saying no in a calm and confident tone. Avoid using language that could be perceived as attacking or blaming.


3. Offer an alternative: If possible, offer an alternative solution that meets both your needs and the other person's needs. This can help to diffuse any potential conflict and maintain a sense of compromise.

4. Be prepared to compromise: If the other person is not willing to accept your "no," be prepared to negotiate and find a compromise that works for both of you. Avoid being too rigid in your position and be open to finding a solution that meets both your needs.

5. Seek support: If the conflict becomes too challenging to handle on your own, seek support from a line manager or coach. They can provide guidance and help you navigate the situation to hopefully, a positive outcome.


How can I help someone who I know people pleases?


This might be easier said than done and helping a colleague who struggles with people pleasing could be challenging, but there are some steps you can take to offer support and guidance:


1. Encourage self-reflection: Encourage your colleague to reflect on their people pleasing tendencies and how it may be impacting their work and relationships. Help them identify their own needs and priorities and encourage them to set boundaries to protect their time and energy.


2. Model assertiveness: Model assertive behaviour by saying "no" when appropriate, expressing your needs and opinions in a respectful way, and setting boundaries in your own work and relationships. This can help your colleague(s) see that it's possible to prioritise your own needs and still maintain positive relationships.


3. Provide feedback: If you notice your colleague engaging in people pleasing behaviour, provide feedback in a respectful and constructive way. Point out the behaviour you observed and offer suggestions for how they could respond differently in the future.

4. Offer support: Offer your colleague emotional support and encouragement as they work to overcome their people pleasing tendencies. Let them know that you are there to listen and offer guidance if they need it.

5. Suggest resources: If your colleague is open to it, suggest resources like books or articles on assertiveness and boundary-setting that may be helpful.

Remember that ultimately, it's up to your colleague to decide whether or not they want to change their behaviour. Be patient and supportive, and avoid pushing too hard or becoming judgmental.

What tools could I suggest or use myself?

There are several tools and resources that can be helpful for overcoming people pleasing tendencies:


1. Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. This increased awareness can help you recognise when you're engaging in people pleasing behaviour and make a conscious choice to respond differently.


2. Assertiveness training: Assertiveness training helps people learn how to express their needs and opinions in a clear and respectful way. It can be helpful for people who struggle with people pleasing and have difficulty setting boundaries.

3. Self-help books: There are many self-help books on the topic of people pleasing and assertiveness that can provide guidance and support. A quick search will find a long list of titles.

4. Support groups: Support groups, either in person or online, can provide a sense of community and support for people who struggle with people pleasing. These groups can offer a safe space to share experiences, receive feedback, and learn from others who are going through similar challenges.


Different tools and resources may work better for different people, and it may take some trial and error to find what works best for you. It's also important to be patient with yourself and seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed or stuck.


Also important to remember in the case of people pleasing is that your time is just as important as anyone else's.


18th April 2023



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