Are you lying awake at night worrying what other people think of you? Do you avoid conflict at all costs because you don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings or find it difficult to say “no”? If so, the chances are that you are suffering from the disease to please – a serious affliction that will ultimately undermine your ability to reach your full potential; best-case scenario you will be seen as likeable and easy-going, worst-case you will be seen as a pushover or general dogsbody.
Being all things to all people is exhausting. So, it’s not surprising that people-pleasers feel under great pressure to be perfect at all times and this can affect your general wellbeing, making you more prone to stress, anxiety or depression.
The secret to banishing the need to please is to understand that you don’t have to be liked to be able to influence other people. You need to feel comfortable in your own skin and stand up for what you believe in. So as a business skills trainer and coach who has helped thousands of people hone their influencing skills, here are 3 steps to help you cure the disease to please once and for all.
1. Develop a confident mindset
I’m a big believer that people buy people. Confidence is contagious, so you need to believe in your own ability if you want to win other people’s hearts and minds. A great way to boost your self-belief is to write down a list of your key skills and strengths and how they can help you influence people. Examples could be strong persuasive skills, a good listener, being empathetic.
People-pleasers tend have a glass half-empty approach to life, so adopt a positive mindset by reminding yourself what’s great about you, your situation and your relationship with the people you are trying to influence. By flipping any negative thoughts into positives, you will have the confidence to back yourself and your ideas and make change happen.
2. Focus your attention on what you can influence, not what you can’t!
People-pleasers spend a lot of time and energy worrying about things over which they have no control. A powerful tool to help you empty your worry bucket and set new and positive influencing goals is the circles of control shown in the diagram below.
The inner circle represents the things that are completely within your control such as where you live, the work you do, your attitude to life, what you read and the words you use.
The middle circle is your area of influence – those things that you can still do something about such as the quality of your work, the relationships you form and the results you can achieve. The outer circle is your area of concern, over which you have no control such as the traffic, terrorism, foreign policy or natural disasters – events that you can spend a lot of time agonizing over but ultimately are powerless to change. The secret to curing the disease to please is to consciously focus your attention on those things within your influence circle that you can actually do something about and not burn your energy on factors outside of your control.
3. Be true to yourself
People-pleasers often mistakenly believe they need to “fake it until they make it” to convince others of their expertise, when in fact, the secret to success is being able to connect with other people in a genuine way. So be authentic and show other people that you have nothing to hide.
By being true to yourself and not just talking the talk, you will build trust with the other party that makes it easier for them to agree with your point of view. This means embracing your imperfections. After all – no one is perfect – so don’t try to please people at all costs. Instead be confident in your influencing ability and be prepared to show your vulnerability – it will make you appear human and approachable and this will help you build rapport with the other person. Remember, as Judy Garland said, “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”
Extract taken from ‘The Influence Book – Practical Steps to becoming a Strong Influencer’ by Nicole Soames, which will be available in November 2018. Nicole Soames is CEO of Diadem Performance, a leading commercial skills training and coaching company, and author of ‘The Influence Book’ and ‘The Negotiation Book’. For more information about Nicole, visit www.diademperformance.com follow her on @nicolediadem or visit www.thenegotiationbook.com