4 Ways to Stop People-Pleasing & Start Protecting Your Energy
Hi. My name is Sara, and I'm a people-pleaser.
Before diving into a few strategies that have helped me inch toward recovery, I'd like to provide an important clarification.
People-pleasers and pushovers are not always one in the same. While the two may be closely linked, people-pleasing isn't necessarily about letting people walk all over you.
To me, people-pleasing is about protecting your reputation as a competent, reliable, and trustworthy person.
Unfortunately, this results in holding yourself to unhealthy standards and regularly putting others' needs before your own - which can very quickly escalate into pushover territory.
Despite feeling weighed down and burnt out, fellow people-pleasers will understand that it can be challenging to break free from this mindset.
Just like any bad habit, changing your people-pleasing ways is a process. And these four tips can help move it along.
1. Eliminate ass-kissing phrases.
You might worry about inconveniencing someone with a certain favor or request, but apologetic phrasing can do more harm than good.
When you add "no worries if not" in attempt to illustrate how agreeable you are, you're actually limiting your power in the situation. Since you gave them the option to decline, they can very well do so.
Instead, end your request with "I appreciate the flexibility" or "thank you for considering." This way, you'll maintain a sense of politeness and professionalism without the people-pleasing "fluff."
Similarly, try to ditch "let me know if you need anything else."
While this candor can actually be entirely appropriate in certain situations such as client relations, avoid using it on a regular basis.
You might think that you're representing yourself as a "team player," but people will likely take advantage of your eagerness over time.
If the only "reward" is somebody's favorable perception of you, it's not worth bending over backwards for.
2. Don't make decisions based on guilt.
If you want to Netflix & lounge instead of drink & mingle, there's no need to beat around the bush.
Quit telling your friends that you'll "let them know" about joining them at the bar later, and simply say that you're staying in.
As people-pleasers, we often give vague responses or even reluctantly move forward with plans because we worry about others taking a "no" personally.
However, this means that we'll continue to find ourselves "faking it" in situations and environments that don't align with our personal preferences.
You might feel guilty for declining an invite, but you'll feel ten times happier as your most authentic self.
3. Offer reasonable alternatives.
When faced with an irrational deadline at work, pause before immediately agreeing and hoping for the best.
Instead of working through your PTO to satisfy your boss, think about an alternative solution that can satisfy everyone.
For instance, maybe you can suggest splitting up a task with a colleague to maximize efficiency. Or you can commit to the bulk of a project, and ask about making the final piece a priority on Monday morning.
This approach can also be helpful when you're already focusing on a time-sensitive project, and are tasked with another timely request.
Rather than skipping lunch to do both (and nearly passing out in the process,) explain the situation and offer to assist on a smaller scale. For example, if it's a writing project, ask if you can copy edit a first draft.
You might say "yes" to everything because you're a people-pleaser, but you're also just a person. And no job is worth losing yourself over.
4. Remember that people treat you how you let them.
Whether it's a romantic or professional relationship, never forget that you teach people how to treat you.
People-pleasers are often hesitant to stand up for themselves, worrying that they'll come off as demanding or high-maintenance.
However, circumstances can't improve without setting boundaries. And ignoring an issue won't make it go away.
So reinforce positive behavior, and speak up when it's not meeting your expectations.
People-pleasing might "keep the peace" on a short-term scale, but honest communication leads to long-term happiness.
14 Comments Add a Comment?
Posted on July 14, 2019, 2:48 a.m.
Oooh I reaaaally needed to read this! I'm such a people pleaser that it's not even funny. It's a way to stay on everyone's good side, but at the same time I get pushed to the side. I'm getting better at being honest (but nice) because after years of doing this, no matter what you do, you can't please everyone, so why bother doing it with everyone?? Thanks for the tips and alternate phrases! I'm definitely going to have to add those into my vocabulary :)
Posted on July 14, 2019, 10:32 p.m.
I loved reading this! I do all of this and often feel guilty about saying no to other people. I will be following you on Twitter!! I look forward to reading more!
Please feel free to check out my blog as well!!
Posted on July 15, 2019, 1:19 p.m.
This post was right on time for me. I need to start implementing these especially not making decisions based off guilt for the sake of protecting my peace !
Rebecca @ Boss Single
Posted on July 15, 2019, 1:54 p.m.
Definitely struggle with people pleaser syndrome. I always say I'm going to say no to things then end up doing them anyway. I'll have to give these tips a try, thanks!
Posted on July 15, 2019, 2:07 p.m.
Yes Yes this is totally me. Every time I talk about my big dreams I always say sorry to those who don't think my dreams are possible. I really needed this thanks for sharing it.
Posted on July 15, 2019, 2:12 p.m.
I am soooo guilty of the "it's okay if you don't want to"
Posted on July 15, 2019, 8:06 p.m.
These are all great things to keep in mind! As a person who had to stop being a people-pleaser, this is still a great reminder to keep on the course I'm on! I am trying to coax one of my friends to get to this point in her life now too because she is miserable.
Posted on July 17, 2019, 1:57 p.m.
I'm a big-time people pleaser and just seem to naturally fall into the roll of being walked over. Your tips for overcoming that are great! I really need to start employing these into my everyday life going forward.
Naomi (Inching Forwards)
Posted on July 17, 2019, 9:43 p.m.
This whole post was uncomfortably relatable, but point two in particular - wow. I find it's worse in person - if it's over text or messenger or email I am more likely to decline if I want to, but if someone's standing in front of me, 'yes' is just a reflex. I'm really trying to dial down this horrible habit, so your post was pretty timely - thank you!
Posted on July 19, 2019, 8:37 p.m.
Really enjoyed this. I’m the world’s biggest people pleaser and need the reminder to remember I count too!
Nicky - www.365daysofwellbeing.com
Posted on July 22, 2019, 12:04 a.m.
I used to be forced into pleasing family and extended family of my spouse. Because that's what he was taught and he thought not doing so is disrespectful. It is already exhausting being a girl in Indian- culture. I decided to be the rebel and stop doing things I don't like. It took a few episodes of doing so but now they all get that this is the type of person I am. Putting myself first has been the most liberating and happy thing I have done in my life! The only person we should be worried about is ourselves!?????
Posted on July 22, 2019, 4:02 p.m.
I love this! I am always trying to give this message to my friends that are dating. For some reason dating and trying to find the right person causes people to be way "too nice" and sets us up for being toyed with!
Posted on July 23, 2019, 12:04 a.m.
As I was reading this, I thought, "That's me. She's talking about me!" It was kind of an epiphany, haha. I knew I had people-pleasing tendencies, but I didn't know I needed to see some practical advice on how to prevent it from happening. Thanks for sharing, this was truly awesome!
Posted on July 29, 2019, 1:14 p.m.
Great post!! I don't think any of us realize how much what we say affects our relationships. This is also a great reminder that we actually have control over ourselves and our reactions. And it's not our job or responsibility to keep everyone else happy.