Are You Afflicted With Pleasing-itis?

Making people happy is part of what makes us human. It’s what we do. It makes us feel good.

Exceed your customer’s expectations – excellent service.

Rearrange your calendar when your boss has a last-minute crisis – responsive and supportive.

Gather up your coffee mug and water bottles when you know it makes your partner crazy to find them all over the house – thoughtful. (Confession: I work hard at this one!)

thermometerBut when good service turns into I have to do whatever my customer wants no matter what, you’ve caught the disease of pleasing-itis.

When supportive and responsive are really about making sure your boss, partner, [fill in the blank] doesn’t get upset, you’ve got pleasing-itis.

When thoughtful turns into accommodating everyone else and never yourself, you’ve got a bad case of pleasing-itis.

So, what’s the problem?

When you try to please everyone – your boss, partner, friends, family members, customers, prospects, and  on down your list of those who must be kept happy – chances are you won’t make anyone happy. Not them, and certainly not yourself.

Like my client Brenda, who’s a successful sales rep. She’s kind, caring, and wanted to make everyone happy. That included a micro-managing, paranoid boss and a nit-picking, nothing-is-ever-good-enough, not-even-particularly-profitable customer.

No matter that 99% of her customers adore her and the President of the company let her know how highly she was valued.  She was bound and determined to please the unpleasable people in her world.

And the harder she tried (all in the name of good service and teamwork), the worse she felt.

The cost

People-pleasing doesn’t come cheap.

It’s stressful. Your confidence erodes and your values are compromised. You fade into the background when you’re working so hard to keep the peace. You water down your ideas as you accommodate everyone else’s point of view or feedback.

You give yourself away.

And you can only sustain that for so long.

By the time Brenda hit that point, she was a wreck. She loved her work, but she was so busy trying to accomplish the impossible that she wasn’t spending time on what was most important.

As we worked together, she agreed to set some boundaries – and braced herself to lose her customer. She worried what her boss would do.

Surprisingly to her (though not to me!), they both backed off.

Amazing things happen when you reclaim your personal power.

The irony

We infect ourselves with pleasing-itis for all sorts of reasons: to avoid risk or failure; to be liked; to feel safe.

It does none of those things.

You will always be your most successful and – more importantly – happiest when you are authentic, unique, and living your values.

Everyone loses when you do otherwise. And that’s a shame.

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” ~ Bill Cosby


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