Usable Insight – It’s Okay to Be a People Pleaser
Being a “people pleaser” is not the problem,
it’s being a people pleaser to takers
who don’t give back, or even say, “Thank you.”
My wife used to tell me that I gave away my time and effort much too freely. She was right, but I refused to listen. Then I had an incident where I gave too much to someone who turned out to be a psychopath. I was lucky to escape with as little damage as I did. My sanity was not as lucky.
For the next year I was cautious about anyone and everyone and was much more withholding than I had ever been. The good news was that nobody got the better of me; the bad news was that I absolutely hated the negative energy that had metastasized through my psyche, spirit and soul.
Fortunately I was able to return to my prior generous ways, but with the following caveat emptor: “Give to everyone once, but recognize takers and those who don’t reciprocate and never give to them a second time.
How do you recognize a “taker?”
- They don’t offer you anything in return
- They expect you to give more
- Many don’t even say “Thank you” (and if they do, it doesn’t ring true)
How do you deal with a “taker?”
- Be prepared to ask for something in return by simply saying, “Oh that reminds me there is something I would like you to do for me…”
- Watch their body posture when you ask them for what that is. The longer the pause or hesitate, the more awkward their smile, the more they fumble for words, the more likely you are dealing with a taker.
- My favorite approach is what I call “The Taker Lie Detector Test.” To do that, pause after their request, just to make the conversation a tad uncomfortable and then say: “Hmm, I was just thinking that I am a fair and reasonable person and if what you’re asking me to do is fair and reasonable, I’d be happy to do it (rarely does a taker ever concern themselves with what is fair and reasonable). And you know, even if it’s not fair and reasonable I might still do it, but then of course it’s a favor and of course I’ll be able to ask you for one in return at a time of my choosing. Don’t you think?” If they start to twist with discomfort after that response, I have learned to say, “You know, on second thought I’m afraid I’m going to have to say, ‘No.’”
Give that last one a try and let me know how it works for you.
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” ‘Just Listen’ is an insightful and practical guide for getting more out of your relationships at work, at home, anywhere. I’ve already ordered copies for everyone in Mattel’s senior leadership team and for each of my grown kids.”
- Bob Eckert, CEO and Chairman, Mattel