I try to share insights that are current as they arise as common themes and topics when I’m coaching.

This happens often in coaching where I notice similar patterns for clients who are operating in totally different contexts. I try to get my reflections together in the moment because if its topical for my clients, then maybe its topical for others too.

I’m here to be of service so I hope this email is helpful.

Let’s start with explaining what I mean by “people pleasing”*.

People pleasing tendencies means that a person places the needs of others above themselves. Whilst empathy and consideration and thoughtfulness to others are positive character traits, people pleasing means that a person is considering others needs before their own in a way which affects their own emotional wellbeing. This can mean that a person agrees to do things they do not want to do.

Some examples of people pleasing tendencies:

  • Openly agreeing with others’s views or opinions, even if a person doesn’t agree, to avoid creating conflict
  • Being preoccupied with what other people think
  • Finding it difficult to say to taking on a new or additional responsibility, task or piece of work
  • Going along with an action or plan although it may cause discomfort or harm to themselves or to others

When a person is regularly experiencing people pleasing tendencies, they may be feeling anxious about their behaviour, stressed because they have too much to do, feeling resentful or frustrated that they are not being appreciated.

People pleasing tendencies or finding it hard to say no are common challenges most of us experience at least once in our lives.  At the root of these behaviours is an unconscious or limiting belief which will be grounded in fear. Fear of something regrettable happening if we say no, or do not behave in line with what is being asked of us.  These fears will be different for all of us and because they are unconscious, generic advice or hacks about how to overcome people pleasing tendencies, typically don’t offer lasting results, although they may offer some temporary reprieve.

Coaching is really effective at getting under the skin of what is happening in a specific situation or relationship where people pleasing behaviours are demonstrated.  Coaching raises awareness of what is happening and enables “coachees” to recognise when they are falling into this pattern of behaviour.  Coaching is about taking action and making lasting positive changes.  Coaching therefore also creates opportunity for the coachee, supported by their coach to identify and test out different ways of navigating a situation without defaulting to people pleasing behaviours.

If you experience people pleasing tendencies, here are a few things you can try:

Keep a journal
Jot down the times when you notice you are displaying people playing tendencies. Raising awareness of the times when this happens, can help us to spot patterns or common triggers about our behaviours. Raising awareness is the first and most important step in changing behaviour, and so says Dr Tara Swart in case you don’t just want to take my word for it!

Take your time
If you are asked to do something you do not want to do, try saying, “can I come back to you?”. Chances are the thing you were asked isn’t very important or someone else could it. This can be a great way of responding without feeling confrontational.

Set boundaries
It is important to know your limits, especially if people pleasing tendencies show up with a specific person or in a specific situation. If someone is asking too much, try saying that you can only help at certain times or with certain tasks. This will feel uncomfortable at first, but just with anything, stick to it, and you’ll notice it becomes easier with time.

Need some more help managing people pleasing tendencies in your business or work? Get in touch with me to find how coaching with me can help:

*Whilst the subject headline for this email uses the term “people pleaser”, permit me some grace for artistic licence. I try to avoid calling anyone a “people pleaser” instead referring to the behaviours of people pleasing, or someone demonstrating people pleasing tendencies. I do this because we as humans are not wholly defined by our behaviours.

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