Accelerator Membership

How to stop people pleasing


Written by Amanda Rose

People-pleasing. It’s a trap but one you can avoid. If you are unfamiliar with the term or you may think you’re a people pleaser here’s a checklist to help you work it out.

People-pleaser checklist:

  • The word “no” never comes out of their mouth. Saying “no” might disappoint someone.
  • They go above and beyond to impress people, even when it is inconvenient or uncomfortable.
  • They struggle to receive criticism and may even say sorry when it isn’t their fault.
  • They feel devastated when they suspect someone doesn’t like them or approve of them.
  • They hate conflict or uncertainty in relationships.

Sound familiar? People-pleasing is a common issue. Many of us, perhaps especially women, live with a deep-seated fear of disappointing those around us. That someone may not like you? People-pleasers often end up discontent and anxious in relationships, constantly striving for approval and reassurance. Whilst at the same time, often neglecting their own goals and priorities. Unsurprisingly, this behaviour is also toxic in the business world. People-pleasing and business don’t mix well.

For example, imagine a client questions your rate. They ask for a discount. At this point, a people pleaser is filled with guilt and worry. You can’t afford to drop your price but you feel as if you can’t say “no”. You’ve just devalued what you’re providing and set up a dangerous precedent. This client is never going to value your work if you allow them to pay less than everyone else. This is just one of many scenarios a people-pleasing business owner can get themselves into. So, how can we avoid these issues? Here are three catchphrases to live by:

1. “I provide quality goods and services“

The key to avoiding people-pleasing is to be confident in yourself and what you have to offer. If you don’t believe in yourself and your business, you will agree to unreasonable requests. And people will also cross boundaries and try and squeeze you until you crack on pricing. However, if you are confident in the quality of your offering, you can stand your ground. Whenever you feel tempted to wave the white flag and surrender to a pushy client, think “I provide quality goods or services”. Also, ask yourself whether you want someone like that as a client. Often saying no will make them respect you more.

2. “I will be kind to people but maintain my boundaries”

People pleasers are constantly worried about what others think. This worry builds and leads you to make unwise decisions. You say “yes” when you should say “no”. You offer too much. You work too late. You respond to demands too easily. Instead, focus on kindness, not reputation. You can only be responsible for how you act, not what others think. So, spend your time on understanding that saying no doesn’t make you a bad person and always be ready to walk away.

3. “Who do I want to work with?“

It can be scary to stand up for ourselves. If we push back, a client might leave. Here’s something to remember: if someone refuses to treat you with respect, you probably don’t want them in your life. When a client walks away because you stand your ground, you’re not losing out. Rather, you are protecting your business reputation from someone who doesn’t see your value. Next time you’re in a difficult conversation and you feel tempted to bend your own rules, ask yourself, “Is this who I want to work with?”. If not, don’t be afraid to see them walk away.