People pleasing – a positive or negative?
People pleasing gets a bad rap. In reality, it’s often one of the primary drivers of success. Yet, when kept unchecked, it can destroy all that you’ve built.
You probably learned early in life how much better you feel when others around you are happy. It’s painful to have people upset with us. This is built into our cognitive wiring – we experience the emotions of those around us through something in our brains called mirror neurons. Thus, we are born people pleasers. That’s a good thing.
People having a positive emotional association with your is actually profitable. We want to be around people who make us feel good. We remember people who make us feel good. We recommend those people to others so they can feel good.
However, if I’m not careful, I will unintentionally make commitments I can’t keep, offer to work far cheaper than I should, and even lie just to not be faced with a tone of voice that I know means ‘this person is unhappy because of me.’
Below are the three keys to balancing the people pleaser in all us:
1. We all disappoint
Despite exhaustively working to beat your client’s expectations, staying late to finish the project for your boss, throwing a freelance project to your buddy; your client, boss, and buddy think you didn’t do enough.
The good news? It happens to all of us. Despite all of the business success books and motivational speakers saying otherwise, we lose clients, disappoint colleagues, and frustrate family members. You aren’t alone. Doesn’t that make it sting less?
2. Seven billion
The first company I worked for was a disaster. Carrying more debt than annual revenue, I was sure it wouldn’t survive two months after I left. The company survived seven years on simple math. There are a lot of people in the world. Seven billion actually.
So your biggest client is leaving you, angry that you didn’t deliver as promised (because you won’t sometimes). ‘It’s a small industry,’ people will tell you. ‘It’s going to come back to bite you,’ they will say. You know what isn’t true? That. Odds are you will never even see them again. Even if they live in your neighborhood, just dodge them in the grocery store and find a new client – there are 6.99 billion others out there.
3. This too shall pass
If only we were able to fully separate work life from the rest, this would be so much easier. We hire the family friend. We let our spouse do the books. We are sure our best friend would make the perfect business partner. Then, it starts unraveling. And the failed relationship can have wide-reaching consequences.
And yet, this too shall pass. You have food to eat. A place to sleep. People who love you. It’s going to be okay. According to Facebook, you have 4,000 friends. You lost one. You aren’t alone. Grab a beer with another and find a new client.
The bottom line
If you are in business, people pleasing will help make you successful, but it can also ruin you. Keeping in mind that your good intentions may sometimes backfire, but you’re not alone – we all disappoint, but there are other clients out there and the pain of disappointing will pass.