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  • Writer's pictureAbbie

Why being a people pleaser in your business isn’t as innocent as it sounds

This week we've teamed up with one of our members Abbie from Whitehead Wellbeing to give you the low down on why people pleasing in business ain't all that and a bag of chips! Let's dive in...

People-pleasing is essentially the act of doing things for the sole reason of pleasing others, and as a result, not being authentic and true to our desires and needs. As women, a lot of us have been taught, either intentionally or subconsciously, that we should put others’ needs first and disregard our own, hence why people-pleasing is so common amongst us. However, it’s not actually the selfless way of living that we have been led to believe. People-pleasing can end up leading to dissatisfaction in life, but especially in business which is what we’re going to be chatting about.

Before we get into how being a people-pleaser is affecting your business, let’s address some misconceptions about people-pleasing:

1. People-pleasing is selfless.

A lot of people think that doing things to please others is a selfless act, but in actual fact, it’s selfish. Why? Because the intent behind people-pleasing, whether you realise it or not, is to manipulate the way people perceive us. We don’t want to be seen as a “bitch” so we load up our plates expecting others to see us as more hospitable, caring, and giving. I bet that being a manipulator isn’t how you would identify yourself, and yet by not being true to ourselves to alter how others perceive us, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

2. If we take on extra tasks to please others, it’ll prove we’re a great worker.

Similar to the above point, this is trying to manipulate the way people perceive us. Not only that but it’s actually disregarding the care you need as well. By loading up our plates, we’re not able to take care of ourselves and therefore, the work we are producing isn’t actually to our highest standard. By taking on fewer tasks and taking some time out for self-care, we are elevating our work performance capabilities.

3. People won’t respect you as much if you put boundaries in place instead of trying to please them.

The reality is that people will respect you MORE by putting boundaries in place. If we continue to bend over backwards for others, we are essentially giving them permission to take advantage of us. By having firm boundaries, they know what they can and can’t expect from you.

woman typing on laptop

So how can people-pleasing lead to dissatisfaction in business?

When it comes to feeling unsatisfied in business, a lot of the time it comes from us believing that external things, like clients and customers, have a say in how we’re operating. Clients and customers obviously have their place in our business, otherwise, we simply wouldn’t have a business, but when we lay external blame on something, we are failing to see the responsibility we have, and this is where people-pleasing can come in.

Maybe you feel like you have to be switched on for your clients all the time to have client retention, so you’re messaging them back in the early hours of the morning. By leaning into this people-pleasing mentality, we end up resenting the client for messaging us and then blaming them for the interaction, when the reality is we simply need to set that boundary. We can do this by letting them know ‘I will no longer be replying to emails / DMs outside my business hours’. But it’s not just about telling them, it’s also about staying true to your word and not messaging them outside of business hours. If we say one thing (that we won’t message outside business hours) but do another (reply outside business hours), we are essentially teaching the client that we don’t mean what we say. By making the boundary and then sticking to it, you are taking on the responsibility and leading by example.

If you’re a product-based business, maybe it’s a customer return that you need to handle. You can tell they have clearly worn a product and you have in your return policy that worn items cannot be returned for change of mind. You could either return the item to please the customer and end up resenting them and the fact that you now have a dirty item on hand, or you could stay firm and state what’s in your return policy and that you won’t be processing the return. By processing the return even though it’s against your return policy, you’re giving the customer permission to do so again. While it can feel uncomfortable saying no in the beginning, it can save a lot of time and energy (and sometimes money like in this case) in the long run. Short-term discomfort for long-term gain.

When it comes to your business, I ask you: if you don’t envision your millionaire business self bending over backwards for a client or customer, why the hell are you doing it now? By not holding yourself to a higher standard and making those boundaries, you are breeding dissatisfaction in your business. Do you really want to end up resenting the very thing (your business) that made you so inspired and motivated to create a new way of life in the first place?

To wrap things up, here are some reflection questions for you to consider when moving forward in business:

  • When I have lowered my standards and/or boundaries in the past with others, how did that make me feel? what did I learn from it?

  • How can I move forward now and create the business I desire?

  • What qualities does my higher business self have? What boundaries/standards does my higher business self have? What can I do today to move closer to embodying my higher biz self?

  • What narratives have I learnt about women and people-pleasing and setting boundaries? Are these beliefs limiting me and my capabilities? why/why not?

  • What evidence is there for women succeeding with firm boundaries / not engaging in people-pleasing?

Say goodbye to the cycle of dissatisfaction and hello to a thriving business that aligns with your true desires and needs. It's time to redefine success on your own terms. For more like this head over to Abbie's IG! @whiteheadwellbeing

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