Do you find yourself saying ‘yes’ when someone asks you to do something, even when you wanted to say ‘no’? Do you apologise for the smallest things? Or offer to help someone, even if you’re very busy?
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn how to stop people-pleasing, lest we become a word from today’s puzzle: ‘doormat’.
A people pleaser is generally someone who tries very hard to make others happy – even to their own detriment. According to the US-based psychology news website PsychCentral, such people are agreeable, conflict-averse, have difficulty saying ‘no’, are prone to resentment and passive aggressive. The need to please people is often driven by insecurity and a lack of self-esteem, and can leave the person feeling emotionally wiped out, stressed and even heading to a complete burnout.
And sometimes, saying ‘yes’ to everything doesn’t have the positive impact you’d think it would. According to a June 2020 study published in the Germany-based scientific journal EMBO Reports, being agreeable too often at work can lead to overstretched resources, reduced productivity and quality of work, and the feeling of being overwhelmed by too many tasks.
So, what should a person do to strike a balance? Here are a few tips, according to PsychCentral:
1. Realise you have a choice: Saying ‘yes’ can become an automatic behaviour for many people, so it’s worth reminding yourself that you have a choice, and only you are in control of making that choice.
2. Set priorities: What are your priorities, and what kind of people do you want to be around? Figuring this out helps make it easier for you to say ‘no’ the next time someone asks you something that doesn’t align with your priorities.
3. Identify your boundaries: This step is critical, and often most difficult for people pleasers. It can feel threatening to your very identity when you decide to change the pattern. But setting boundaries is important, since it’s a form of self-love that will strengthen the relationships you want to focus on, while letting other, more superficial connections fall away (a by-product of the exercise that you should prepare for). Boundaries help reduce resentment, anxiety and stress, since they stop you from overextending yourself.
4. Use time blocking: Considered to be a productivity hack that helps you do what you need to do, while living a more fulfilled life, time blocking is a straightforward concept. This time management technique gets you to set a time limit when assisting someone. For instance, when you’re on your way out of the office, and someone asks you to help them, you could give them a time limit of 15 minutes. One the time’s up, you have to go. It’s a hard stop that allows you to help, while giving you the ability to step back when you need to.
5. Ask for time: A great way to start learning how to say ‘no’, is by delaying the ‘yes’. Some phrases that come in handy are: “Let me get back to you on that.” Or “I need to check with my spouse, since I’m not sure if we have any plans that day.”