Doormat. This was the word that stood out when I Googled the term "People-Pleaser".
For the people-pleaser, the thought of confrontation, disapproval or disagreement can spark a visceral response - sweaty palms, a nervous twitch - it's uncomfortable and sometimes overwhelming. So, for instant gratification we often default to the agreeable. A people-pleaser says "count me in". We get a pat on the back, while inwardly cursing our short-comings. We vow never to do it again, yet seem to find ourselves in situation after situation questioning how we ended up here, or how we got dragged into this.
Eventually though, the default "yes" will not serve our personal growth. How can we truly know ourselves when we cannot define our preference, our desire, our dislike?
What would happen if we stopped accommodating everyone else's agenda, and started nourishing our own? Would everyone hate us? No. Would our list of 100 closest friends shrink to less than half that? It probably should. Would we be happier? Without a doubt.
Here are five go-to phrases that every people-pleaser should learn right now:
1. I'd rather not
I once said "yes" and ended up at a "party" consisting of four guys playing video games while talking about how alcohol made it easier to converse with girls...
Let's just say, I should have said "no".
The point is, we don't need a convincing excuse to not do something. In fact, we don't need ANY excuse. No one can argue with "I'd rather not", because this is a declaration of personhood, not a semblance for debate.
2. I want [insert what you want here]
We all dread the daunting question, "what TV show do you want to watch?" Or worse, "where do you want to eat?" We think to ourselves: "Is it weird that what I really want is an Indian Buffet at 10am?". And truthfully, yes, that is a little weird. But who cares? Instead of being honest, we tend to default to, "I don't know, what do you want?" or "anything is fine". But anything is not fine. Nine times out of ten, we know exactly what we want. And what we want is a damn Indian Buffet. Say it. Save the "I don't know's" for watching Jeopardy.
3. I suggest
Take ownership. We always seem to know which route is fastest, that it would probably be a good idea to make a reservation BEFORE the dinner rush, and that nothing good happens after midnight. Sometimes, we may even share our insight. But not very eloquently. Countless times I have heard myself start a sentence with, "maybe we should...". Here is the problem, "maybe" deflates conviction. Your more outspoken counterpart will most definitely override your contribution with a (potentially) not so good alternative. Practice saying this, "I suggest we make a reservation tonight". And then make it. The pay off? Food, when and where you want it.
4. Let me get back to you
One of the most detrimental moves for the people-pleaser is answering too quickly. Why? Because we will, without fail, say yes. To everything. Time is our savior. Rather than blurting out "yes", this added time gives us a chance to decide if the proposed plan is something we are interested in, or not. Another great thing about waiting, is that you don't have to respond in person. We live in the age of technology - email responses are perfectly acceptable. Yes, breakups should probably be done in person, but declining a social invitation, or responding to a coworker about covering their shift, can absolutely happen over email. It gives everyone involved the chance to think about how they would actually like to respond, without being put on the spot. Try something like, "I've decided to stay in tonight", or "thanks so much for the invite, but I'm unavailable". Taking the time to get back to someone will ultimately save you from having to make up a lame excuse to cancel a plan last minute, when you never intended on attending in the first place.
5. I need
What do you need? Some alone time? A walk outside? Quiet? Take what you need, it's yours to have. If others can't get on board with you doing you, you should probably reevaluate your involvement with them. Everyone is entitled to take care of their own needs, so honor yours.