Ahhhh yes, people pleasing. We so often do this and don’t even realize it! Especially as women, we have this need to help and please others. Often this comes in the form of saying yes to so many requests at work and at home that we overextend ourselves in the name of not letting someone else down.
Before I had my daughter and was diagnosed with thyroid cancer (when she was 18 months), I volunteered for multiple organizations and spent a lot of time at work taking on extra assignments. But once those life-changing events happened I stripped myself of any extra activity besides being a mom and surviving extreme fatigue. I physically couldn’t do an extra thing! Once I felt better, I realized that I enjoyed the extra time I had because I had absolutely no commitments.
As I added commitments back into my life I evaluated them thoroughly. I began to look at everything as an “opportunity cost”. That term, coined by economists as a benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else. If I was saying yes to something, such as a volunteer activity, that meant I was saying no to something else, such as spending time with my family.
People pleasing often means you are saying yes to too many things and not evaluating the opportunity cost of what you may be giving up by that simple yes!
Here are some tips on dealing with this issue
It is important to realize if this is a personality tendency of yours. For instance, the women in my family are top notch at people pleasing, but the women in my husband’s family don’t have this issue as much. Think about the past and what you have said yes to recently. Evaluate why you did it. Did the task align with specific your specific goals or passions or did you feel guilty about something so you said yes?
2) Know the difference between goodwill and pleasing.
This is huge in allowing yourself to not feel guilty about saying no. Goodwill happens when you truly want to do something for someone, where pleasing is when you feel like you “should” do something or feel guilty for not saying yes to something.
3) Learn how to say no.
Saying no isn’t about being selfish, it’s about ensuring you are focusing your energies on what is most important to you. This is where you can use a filter and opportunity cost evaluation to decide what to say yes and no to. Having a personal mission statement, passions and values to filter your requests through help you to better determine if it is something you should do. Also, looking at the opportunity cost of the request – what do you have to give up in order to do this activity? For instance, if you have a request to join the School Advisory Committee at your child’s school, you have to look at if it aligns with your mission, passions, and values and then also the opportunity cost. When I had this request for my daughter’s school, it aligned well with my mission, passions, and values, but the opportunity cost wasn’t worth it. If I was spending my time volunteering there, then I wasn’t working on starting up my business, which was top priority for me at the time.
If you want to be focused on excelling in your career and you life, people pleasing will hold you back. It is imperative to ensure you are focusing your efforts and your “yes” on the items that really matter to you. In the end, that is allowing you to do your best at what you say yes to rather than stretching yourself and giving everyone part of your mediocre.
What do you do to ensure you aren’t people pleasing and focusing on what is most important for you right now?