Do you have a poor opinion of yourself? Do you need others to like you? Is it hard for you to say “no”? Do you apologise often even if you’re not at fault?

If you happen to agree with any or all of the above, you may be a people-pleaser: you probably go above and beyond to please others, but end up feeling miserable for neglecting your own needs and emotions.

This attitude cannot be excused as simply showing kindness and compassion. There is more to this behaviour than meets the eye as it can really harm you, especially at work.

So, are you just being nice, or are you a people-pleaser? Here are some helpful indicators for the latter:

  • You always agree even when you strongly disagree, or when it goes against your moral or personal values.
  • You apologise way too much even for trivial things that you actually don’t have to feel sorry about.
  • You have an overload of empathy for other people’s feelings. You get easily distracted and burdened by their negativity.
  • You always say “Yes”, which makes you an easy target for work that is not technically yours.
  • You need validation from other people to feel good about yourself. You care too much about others’ opinions that your
    confidence depends on them.

  • How Does People-Pleasing Hurt You?
    Even though you may mean well, being a people-pleaser can be quite damaging. Here’s how:

  • It will undermine your sense of self-worth and authority at work.
  • It will result in poor work performance and growth.
  • You spend too much time trying to please others that you forget to make yourself happy, thus leading to a crisis of frustration, resentment, stress overload, and burnout.

  • Stop People-Pleasing: Some Helpful Tips

    Build Self-Awareness
    Be aware of your own needs. Make yourself a priority by understanding what you want in life and what makes you happy, and do this before trying to accommodate others. Putting yourself first is not selfish: after all, your own happiness and well-being depend on you!

    Learn to Say “No”
    According to social psychologist Susan Newman, saying “No” is a learned skill. Start acquiring this skill by first learning to delay the “Yes”. For instance, you can say “Let me check first”, or “I’ll get back to you on that” instead of agreeing to something right away. From there, master the skill of saying “No” or disagreeing when necessary. Remember that you always have a choice.

    Hold Space for Yourself
    Take stock of what’s going on with your life, work, body and mind. Take time to reflect and listen to your inner voice. Be open to all your emotions and acknowledge them. When you fully understand yourself, it is time to practice self-care. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. You deserve it!

    Recognise Your Limits
    Set healthy boundaries that allow you to be true to yourself. List the things that make you feel uncomfortable or used in the workplace. Then work through them and don’t allow it when someone tries to take advantage of your time and energy. Be assertive and stand up for yourself.

    The Bottom Line
    Speaking your mind may be hard when the people-pleasing behaviour is deeply ingrained in you. But remember that honesty is a virtue, so be honest about how you feel. It’s worth noting that speaking your mind at the workplace can be liberating. Emit positive energy at work, and eventually creativity, productivity, and efficient work performance will follow.