In a workshop on Managerial Excellence, we were talking about Assertiveness in communication...being honest, direct and caring and yet saying a No.
One participant, eyes big with what seemed a mixture of amusement and horror at the same time asked, " Can we say no to a client? Or a boss?" His body language suggested to me that his mind had already rejected the proposition the moment it was introduced in the workshop. I knew that changing his opinion was going to be an uphill battle because the conviction in his stance said it with finality - Saying No is Impossible! Its Unthinkable! Its just not done!
While I continued with the 5 steps to assertiveness in that workshop, I realised that at times its a much deeper issue behind the simple behavior of not saying a No. It is called the People Pleaser Personality.
Am I a People Pleaser?
Here are some ways to recognize a People Pleaser:
People Pleasers are the nicest people we know. They always put others ahead of themselves. They are ever ready to help, lend a hand, be there. They are last on their own priority list. For example, a colleague who will help you out in your work even if their own work suffers.
They are very uncomfortable with conflict and prioritize harmony and peace over anything else. They would rather agree with what the other is saying than get into a conversation that can become an argument. For example, a spouse who will agree to go to a social gathering where they feel out of place just to keep peace in the relationship.
They have a hard time making tough decisions that may displease some people as they are very sensitive to criticism. Such a decision may freeze them into inaction and even one critical comment from anyone tends to consume their thoughts for the next few days. For example, saying a no to friends who call at 10 pm and make a spontaneous plan to meet at 11pm on the same day is very difficult for them as they don't want to hear a single harsh word.
They like to be seen as doing the right thing, no matter what. For example, they would like to take the entire family out if the spouse requests for an outing. This is true even if they themselves may be dying for some alone time with the spouse, but again would not like to be seen as selfish or uncaring.
They will never be able to say no even to a boss's or client's most unreasonable demand. Saying No makes them feel guilty. They will stretch themselves to meet those demands, work long hours, work weekends and sacrifice all their family time in the hope that it will make the boss happy. The more difficult a person is to please, the more they would do all they can to win the person over.
Here's what years of People Pleasing does to us
Builds up resentment as we know that we don't have the freedom to be who we are. While externally, we are doing all we can to keep the image of harmony, inside we are boiling with anger.
Creates Stress in our system as we are constantly trying to live up to what we think will make the other happy. There's constant pressure to live up to expectations. And we all know the medical fallout of chronic stress.
We neglect ourselves, our bodies, our mind and our soul. We hide our talent and abandon our hobbies. We give up the chance to live a joyful life and be authentic and true to who we are.
We can break out of this pattern of thinking with some amount of practice as suggested in the video here.
The best thing to do however, is to understand the genesis of People Pleasing in your own life.
As a Coach & Inner Transformation facilitator, I have now understood that People Pleasing starts with Parent Pleasing, most of the time in earliest days of childhood. Yes, people pleasers are not born, they are made.
Have you ever seen a toddler who runs around the room doing new things, looking back at mother or father every time for approval? If the young child receives really harsh criticism in the form of belittling words, looks, shouting or even a rap on the knuckles their world crumbles around them as they interpret this to mean complete rejection of themselves. Or take the case of an absentee parent who is unavailable to the child. The child wants to do all in its power to make the parent happy and stay longer. When the parent goes away (for work, or separates), the child feels abandoned. The fear of rejection or abandonment and the need for validation is the genesis of the People Pleaser.
If you identify with the scenarios in this article, are keen to explore deeper aspects of your personality and want to Reclaim your Inner Potential , do come to this workshop on 5th & 6th of November at Gurgaon. Its on a weekend, so your boss won't miss you (lol)!
Click on the link below
It is time to let go of the People Pleaser and Reclaim Your True Authentic Joyful Self!
Luv & abundance