Are You a People Pleaser?

15 Feb

I’m a people pleaser…

I just can’t say no.

This has been a problem for me most of my life…

I have a people-pleasing personality, so when people ask something of me, I usually say yes.

I don’t want to let them down.

Being unable to tell people no would not be a bad thing if the question they asked was, “would you please accept this large sum of cash and spend it on yourself in any way you please without ever having to pay me back?”

No one has ever asked me that…

Big surprise.

The questions I am most often asked have to do with taking responsibility for accomplishing a task…often a task that I am not deeply interested in completing personally.

At the university, we call this “service.”

At church, we call it “ministry.”

At home, we call it “being part of the family.”

The things we are usually asked to do are not inherently bad…

For example, at work, I was just asked to chair an awards committee. I was recommended by the Vice Chancellor and asked by the head of Human Resources. To be honest, it’s kind of an honor to be asked.

When the HR Director called, my first reaction was that I must be in trouble (I think it’s an automatic response that I developed because I was frequently called to the office in high school). After quickly thinking through my actions of the past week, I figured that I was not in trouble…so I relaxed.

Being in trouble can have more than one meaning, as I quickly found out.

“Jon, would you be willing to chair the campus professional staff awards committee this year? Our usual chair is unavailable and you were recommended by the Vice Chancellor.”

I was in trouble…

How do I say no to the Director of Human Resources when I was recommended by the VC, who, not coincidentally, is also my boss?

So I said yes…

Because I did not want to disappoint the HR Director…

Or the Vice-Chancellor…

Of course, the are numerous people who will be nominated for this award…

And only one of them will win.

So I guess I will be disappointing a bunch of other people anyway…

But I digress…

My point is that I am unable to say no.

This is the second time in two weeks that I have been asked to step in and fill a slot for someone who is unable to complete their assignment.

Part of me feels flattered to be asked. I am often the first one that people ask when they need to get something done.

But I have started to realize that this is not necessarily something for which I should feel flattered.

This is actually a time-saving act on the part of the person making the request.

People have started to recognize that I don’t usually say no…

If they need to get something done and they do not want to dedicate a lot of time to finding someone else, they can ask me.

Because I will usually say yes.

And they can move on to the next item on their “to-do” list…

While I add another item to mine.

And then I wonder how I can get everything done on my list…I start to feel anxious over how busy I am…I feel pressured…I get irritable…

And I usually end up doing a less effective job.

So then, the people who asked me to serve get annoyed that I did not do as good a job as they had hoped.

And I disappoint them.

Seems like I could have taken a much shorter route to disappointing them if I had just said no in the first place.

What about you? Are you a people-pleaser? Do you have difficulty saying no? Or are you someone who has learned to prioritize your own tasks and not allow others to crowd their way onto your “to-do” list?

I would love to receive your feedback on how I can learn to say no.

Of course, if you respond to this post, you will be saying yes to my request…

And I will be pleased…



Tags: , ,

10 responses to “Are You a People Pleaser?

  1. Brad Dimick

    February 15, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Jon, very well said (but in the future, please stay out of my diary…)

    One thing I’m (still) learning is that in order to say ‘yes’ to a request, I have to say–to some degree–‘no’ to family/church/work/friends/personal health, etc. Time being the fixed quantity that it is, it comes down to listing my existing priorities and–because there are always trade-offs–being ruthlessly decisive in choosing what to say no (or yes) to, and declaring my decision to all affected parties. The most important element for me is decisiveness, followed closely by open communication.

    Regarding submission to others’ agendas, I am reminded that I always have a choice. I’ve never been in a situation where I couldn’t say ‘no’. Granted, the cost of doing so may have disproportionately outweighed the benefit, but I’ve always had a choice in the matter. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jim Elliot, Paul the Apostle, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, etal, would support me on that point.

    That is my textbook answer, under which I stand both convicted (for yesterday’s choices) and hopeful (for today’s opportunities to get it right).

    • jbecker007

      February 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      You’re right, Brad…we CAN always say no. I just need to get better at saying no to the wrong things so that I can say yes to the right things! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • jbecker007

      February 25, 2012 at 10:19 am

      Thanks for the encouragement, Brad…I actually took your advice in saying no to someone today!

  2. Kimberly

    February 15, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Jon – you are too harsh on yourself. You do wonderfully at everything you have been tasked with – honestly I love working with you because I can ask you for something and on the rare occasion I have to nag you for something you don’t take it personally. You can always say no to my requests for FACET but I will immediately put you out – Just kidding. See you next week for the other task that you got asked to complete because someone couldn’t do it. Sorry!

    • jbecker007

      February 15, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks, Kim! FACET is never a burden…it’s something I love. Looking forward to the meeting next week and the important work we are going to complete!

  3. Olive U Buddy

    February 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Jon I need $3000.00………what do you mean… No…. I think you might have snickered but in my life I have to look at time like money. You only have so much of it and if you don’t have it you can’t give it. There are times when we need to say yes, just as there are times we need to say no. I think the secret, which I am still working on, is finding balance. Easier said then done….now about that money I want………

    • jbecker007

      February 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Olive. I know that if I would think more about what my time is actually costing me, I would definitely make better choices.

  4. Bryan Hartart

    February 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    For me, a preacher, it’s a sin to say no when someone requests something where I work. ๐Ÿ˜€

    I do have trouble saying no because I do feel guilty, I feel like i am being a bad boy, and as if I am being disrespectful to my elders (because most of the time it is those who are older than me who ask me to do the sort of menial things that should be delegated).

    I’ll have to begin to create boundaries if I want to be able to say no. If I have things to do that are way more valuable to other people, then most of the menial things have to go.

    I’ll let you know if I ever say no…

  5. Bryan Hart

    February 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I am not Bryan Hartart…..My Avatar went on the fritz :-/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: