Stop Being a People Pleaser

By Mel Sim

Always saying yes and going out of your way for your colleagues and boss? Read this.

It’s great to be a colleague everyone loves and even better to be that employee your boss knows she can always count on. But it’s not so great if you are constantly trying to please people at work because you don’t want to offend anyone and you don’t want to say no.

People pleaser. Has anyone ever called you that and you wonder what’s so wrong about it? The thing is people pleasers are often positive people who go out of the way for the team by accepting heavier workloads, caring for their colleagues, saying yes to everything the boss wants them to do. It becomes a problem when they take on heavier workloads on top of their already busy schedule, care for their colleagues who are clearly taking advantage of them, and saying yes to everything the boss wants them to do even when it’s not part of their job scope.

Most importantly, being a people pleaser can have a negative impact on your career and wellbeing. For example, you agree to unreasonable requests like always working weekends and taking up the extra load of work. As a result, you may feel overworked and frustrated, which will lead to burnout and stress.

Or when you say yes to your boss’s request to do something you obviously have no idea how to do. You stress trying to get it done right, spend hours getting your head around it, and when you don’t deliver as you should, you get upset and your career is affected… when what you should have done in the first place is to be upfront with your boss and say no you can’t do it because you don’t know how to!

Sounds like you? Here’s how to kick that habit and focus instead on yourself.

#1 Stop being so nice
Sounds harsh but for people pleasers, it’s necessary. Stand up for yourself and say no when it’s obviously something you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. The first step to stop being a people pleaser is being comfortable with saying no so start small like no to the lunch place you don’t enjoy going to and no to being the one to present the notes because you aren’t very familiar with the ideas. Do it firmly (so people take you seriously) but do it politely as well (so others won’t get offended).

#2 Ask yourself what’s in it for you
When you get a request, instead of immediately saying yes, take a moment to ask yourself what you can gain out of saying yes. Will saying yes to the extra workload give you the opportunity to learn something new? Then go on and take it if you know you can handle it. Will going along with your boss’s suggestion to try something new allow you to explore ideas that will add on to your skills? You might want to suck it up and just do as he says. But will saying yes not have any positive impact for your career except the fact that it will take up more of your time (time that is better well spent focusing on yourself)? No thank you!

#3 Prioritise you first
The first rule of not being a people pleaser: Prioritise yourself first. Colleagues who aren’t pulling their weight know they can count on people pleasers to help them out during crunch time because people pleasers often take on far more than their workload and they don’t know how to say no. But if you make it a point to focus on your tasks and the things you need to deliver first, you’ll realise you don’t have the time and energy to do work for others (and not get the credit!). Recognise that your work comes first, and showing the results for them is what you are hired for; not to do other people’s work while yours suffer as a result.

#4 Ask others for help
Maybe turn the table around – ask your colleagues for help instead. That way you won’t feel like you are the one always helping them out. And your colleague won’t take you for granted, knowing that they too need to lend the extra hand when they can. It’s also a great way to get you used to accepting help from others so you’re not a people pleaser all the time.

#5 Be firm!
So you said no. Good on you! Just have to leave it at that – and not having to explain to the person asking you for help why you can’t do it. The more you try to defend you saying no, the more likely you will falter and say, “Oh all right, just one more time.” This is because when you try to explain yourself by saying things like “I am busy right now,” the person asking for help will have more opportunities to tell you why you can still help him out by saying things like “I don’t need it now. Only when you are done with your thing.” Then it all just backfires on you! So say no… and stick to it!

Ever had a time when you had to say no to a colleague? Share it with us on Twitter @Graduan.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

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