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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

5 Warning Signs That You’re a People Pleaser

5 Warning Signs That You’re a People Pleaser

Do any of the following sound familiar?

You cringe at the thought of saying no. You obsess about what others think of you and whether you’re doing something to make them dislike you. You live your life based on the opinions of others because you are deathly afraid of disappointing them.

If you say yes to all of these, you are likely a chronic people pleaser.

It’s hard not to struggle with people-pleasing at one time or another in our lives. As social beings, it’s in our nature to get along with others; our survival and success depend on it.

However, there is a fine line between healthy social behavior and the experience of emotional depletion caused by chronic people-pleasing.

In addition to being emotionally drained, you may find yourself compromising your principles and values in order to be accepted. As you help others to get what they want, your own health and well-being will suffer.

As a recovering people pleaser myself, I’ve observed these five common signs of chronic people-pleasing and some ways to overcome it:

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1. You’re Incapable of Saying No

Do you find it painfully hard to turn down the requests of family, friends, and even acquaintances or strangers?

You really want to say no, but instead, you say yes to their various demands.

Before you know it, you’ve become the go-to person when something needs to get done. From the small to the large, you take on every task. You may even be considered a hero to some.

On the inside, you’re suffering. You genuinely want to help others, but you also know that you are depleting your own resources with every “yes.”

You may fear that you’ll lose your friendships and good reputation by saying no. After all, the last thing you want to be called is selfish.

Solution

First, realize that your capacity to care for others and your capacity to care for yourself are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the two are intimately related.

Second, understand that you are not responsible for the happiness of those around you – they are. Let these two realities give you permission to say no. Start practicing with small requests. Refuse kindly and without apology.

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2. You Avoid Making Decisions or Sharing Your Opinions

Do you have a hard time voicing your opinions and feelings in a group setting or with close friends? Do you constantly allow others to make decisions for you?

You understand a deep truth about decisions and opinions: they divide. However, it’s not in your nature to cause division by speaking up, so you remain silent to avoid conflict.

Over time, this behavior is deadly, because as you defer to the opinions and decisions of others, you are silencing your own voice. This will rob the world of your unique perspectives and gifts.

Solution

Remember that you can disagree without being disagreeable. People can have divergent opinions and still treat each other with respect and kindness. So give voice to your thoughts, concerns, and needs.

By speaking up, you may rock the boat. You may even be outvoted. But if you treat others with respect, they will respect you even when they disagree with your opinions and choices.

3. You’re Crushed When You Discover Someone Doesn’t Like You

This is a hard one. It seems reasonable to assume that if you go out of your way to please everyone, then everyone will like you. But it’s not true.

Some people will dislike you simply because of who you are or for reasons outside of your control. You understand this intellectually, but you cannot stop trying to win the few holdouts.

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Solution

Closely examine your desire to be liked by everyone. Did this originate in your childhood, as you tried to win the affections of family members or friends at school?

Use tools such as reflection, meditation, and counseling to help you let go of past negative experiences.

As social beings, we need to be loved and accepted – but not by everyone. Decide whose love and affection is worth the effort and whose is not.

4. You’re Resentful of Others but Are Not Sure Why

This often happens when we suppress our feelings and needs over the long term. Do you feel unexplained anger toward your close friends, spouse, or boss?

The anger is your subconscious telling you that you have been neglecting yourself while helping others advance their goals. Think of this resentment as the “check engine” light turning on in your car. Don’t ignore it.

Solution

Face the truth of what is going on in your life. If you’re feeling overextended or taken advantage of, acknowledge these feelings. Avoid second-guessing yourself. Find time for self-care, and make this a priority.

5. You’re Unaware of How Far You’re Willing to Go – Until You’re in Over Your Head

This is a sure sign that you lack proper boundaries. You avoid setting limits because you believe this runs counter to having a generous spirit. But this simply allows people greater latitude to intrude into your life.

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The requests may become more and more unreasonable, and you may not realize it until someone has crossed the line. If you’ve taken on too much, you may experience passive-aggressive behavior, crying for no apparent reason, anxiety, or depression.

Solution

Be willing to admit that your time and energy are limited, not because you’re selfish, but because it’s the truth.

Boundaries are simply a recognition of that truth. Do not be afraid to set your boundaries and enforce them. It will take a while for you and others to get used to it, but you’ll experience an increased sense of well-being, and people will learn to accept your limits.

Learn to set boundaries for good: How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries.

Final Thoughts

You can be generous without allowing yourself to be used. You can be kind without being a pushover. You can be well-liked without having to sell your soul.

Don’t allow your fears and insecurities to turn you into a chronic people-pleaser. Instead, make time to please one of the most important people in your life: you.

Why? Because when you care for yourself, you can care for others out of the abundance of your own well-being. You will do this not because you are afraid of losing their affection, but simply because you want to. You will experience true freedom.

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So decide today to give yourself the same love and attention you give to others. This is one decision you won’t regret.

More Self-Care Tips

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

More by this author

Cylon George

A spiritual chaplain and blogger who writes about practical spiritual tips for busy people.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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