People-pleasers often find themselves doing things they don’t want to do and putting the needs of others ahead of their own. When they’re asked to do something or to help someone, they often feel compelled to say ‘yes’.
In general, agreeing to help someone isn’t a problem. However, what separates people pleasing from a healthy agreement is that after the fact, the people-pleaser will feel “trapped” or “stuck”doing something that they genuinely don’t want to do.
If you’re feeling this way, then it is a sign that you made the wrong choice. So what can you do about it?
Ask yourself this simple question — do I need to give them an answer right now?
So don’t feel pressured to answer in the moment.
Recruit time to be your ally. One of the biggest mistakes people make is saying ‘yes’ too quickly. Remember this: it is easier to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ than to turn a ‘yes’ into a ‘no’.
There are very few situations where you actually need to give an immediate response.
Whenever I tell people that you don’t need to answer or commit in the moment, someone inevitably asks this question: “But what if they pressure me to make a decision right now?”
Here is the simple rule. Whenever someone pressures me to give an immediate answer I say, “Well, if you need an answer right now, the answer has to be no.”
Miraculously, people always manage to find some patience when presented with that outcome.
Great negotiators are curious. Ask more questions and learn about the situation.
Try to learn the following:
After you ask these questions you say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.”
This will allow you to distance yourself from the situation to avoid feeling the immediate emotional pressure as a people-pleaser to say ‘yes’. Taking the time to gather information will also make it more likely for you to make an informed decision.
Asking a friend or colleague for their perspective as you consider your options will also help you in the decision making process. They might be in a better position to see whether or not you’re doing the right things for the right reasons. It’s often easier to see people pleasing in others than it is to see it in yourself.
Information gathering, decision making, and responding are three distinct steps in the process. You’re more likely to slip into people pleasing when you try to do both at once.
Natalie Lue is a relationship expert. She is the founder of Baggage Reclaim and her podcast and books have been helping people-pleasers to overcome barriers so they can live the lives they deserve.
According to Lue, people-pleasing, while intended to make others happy, is actually a barrier to true intimacy.
Constantly giving in and trying to give the person what they want without sharing your true feelings will only create the opposite effect. You think you’re doing it to improve the relationship, but it only creates distance over time.
Sometimes they trick themselves into thinking that they are doing this because it is “noble” or “admirable,” but if the pattern continues in the relationship, they will likely suffer emotionally and start to resent the people in their life.
When pleasing others leads you to forgo your own needs and deny how you really feel, you will end up feeling frustrated, unappreciated or misunderstood. And as long as you give in without checking in with yourself, the more opportunities you waste to nourish or save the relationship.
People respect you more when you are clear with your boundaries, personal values and goals. Take the time you need to think things through, dig deeper, and then make the right decision.
You can’t contribute more value if you have nothing left to give. Say yes to yourself first, and then you’ll find the confidence to make a healthy choice.