People pleaser v people helper

Before I started working with one of my clients he changed our meeting time several times before we actually met face to face. There were two main reasons he felt the need to keep postponing our appointments. 1. He could not say ‘No!’ to clients and felt bad if he could not meet them at the time they suggested. 2. Because of reason 1., he had no time to complete his pre-work and so felt he needed to postpone our meeting to maximise the benefit of our session. I discovered he was a people pleaser. In his desire to serve his customers and his team, he had fallen into the trap of always being available to others and never creating space for his own growth and the growth of his business.

I persisted because I knew this man has a great desire to serve people. I wanted the opportunity to work with him and help him become more secure about how he works with people. And once we started working together, he learned that if he wanted to change his meeting time with me at the last minute he forfeited the session.

People Pleasers:

  • Struggle to say “No’ to others
  • Are often running late
  • Do not make time for planning
  • Are unsure of their priorities
  • Rarely keep appointments with themselves
  • Often work after hours when there is no-one to interrupt them
  • Worry about letting people down
  • Often feel a bit out of control

People Helpers:

  • Make time to think and prepare well
  • Have clear priorities and can keep their word
  • Have trained their team to respect their preparation and planning time
  • Are well planned so they can let their customers know when they will next be available
  • Are not driven by fear that they will lose clients
  • Make it to their children’s school activities and other family commitments more regularly
  • Mostly feel in control of their schedule and life

A people pleaser is more likely to burnout

Responding to the needs of people all the time as your first priority sounds like it would make you an awesome people helper. While helping people is a great motivation, responding to people as your first priority each and every day, will always eventually become unsustainable. And it is the pathway to burnout. Unrealistic expectations are created that will cause you stress and mean that the people you are trying to help are let down and become disappointed. Like my client, you will create your own kind of chaos, that stops you from investing time in developing your skills, or planning for the future.

A people pleaser needs to work on their self-respect

Everyone needs to learn this valuable lesson: In order to serve people well, you cannot always please people. If you try to please everybody all the time, you will end up frustrating everyone most of the time. 

It is a valuable lesson to learn. If you develop healthy self-respect you will serve people but not be willing to tie yourself in knots to do so. You will carve out the time required to plan and organise so you know your priorities and can keep your word.

Are you a people pleaser? Or a people helper?


INTEGRATE: Why Work Life Balance is a Myth | John Drury

Integrate: Why Work Life Balance is a Myth and what you really need to create a fulfilling lifestyle

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