The word “pleasing” is misleading. People pleasing is actually quite negative. Think of it as trying to control what others think, seeking praise, and taking an easy way out.
We say yes to the wrong things because we want someone to think that we are nice, kind, helpful, generous, etc., but in actual fact, we’d rather do something else. These dishonest actions are manipulative. Plus, an attitude of “I do so much and you don’t appreciate it,” hurts relationships.
If we say yes to someone so we can avoid conflict, that often means we need to say no to something important, in order to accommodate the first request. And if we’re with someone who is trying to accommodate us, we will likely annoy them by not saying what we want, requiring them to guess and often be wrong. Doesn’t sound so pleasing anymore does it?
After that reality check, know that there’s plenty of hope for those who say yes to things that don’t align with what’s important to them. In fact, when we are not overburdened and stressed by pleasing, we can actually be more kind, generous, and contributory.
Feel uncomfortable saying no or stating what you want? That conflict may be only in your head. It’s not likely the other person is invested as much as we fear. They may accept a simple no, but if we feel we need to give a reason, there’s nothing wrong with saying that we want to focus more on our hobby, family, career, education, health, whatever is important to us. No excuse required.
Plus, saying no often gains us respect as someone who sticks to our values, has control of our life, and prioritizes who and what is important to us.
Take action: Next time before saying yes, ask yourself if the request is in line with your values, and what you’ll need to give up for it. Get better connected to your emotions as a warning sign. Will saying yes make you feel resentment or joy? And practice your possible answers before requests come up.
Inspired by Amy Morin’s book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.
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