This morning I went to return an item at a store, and the woman behind the counter asked me to enter my email on the credit card scanner. This simple request always poses a dilemma for me because I don’t want them to have my email– but it makes me uncomfortable to say “no.” Being the recovering people pleaser that I am, I mustered up the courage to politely say, “No thank you.” This felt awkward for me, because I just said these three words, instead of my normal, “I’m really sorry, but if you don’t mind I would rather not give out my email because I am trying to stop cluttering up my inbox…” yada yada, (yuck). I then realized I was saying “no” to a fellow people pleaser because she went on and on about how it’s no problem but they need to ask for it to send coupons and for me to get a duplicate receipt in my email, yada yada.
I’ve about had it with the sorry’s and yada yada’s–especially from me.
There is a great book on the shelves right now, called “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkheurst. We are working through it, chapter by chapter in our Monday night bible study. I love it because I believe Lysa speaks to so many of us who struggle with saying a simple “no”, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, then finding ourselves weary and worn, and annoyed that we have spammy emails showing up in our inbox from retail stores.
This last week our discussion centered around people-pleasing. In the workbook was a checklist of people-pleasing traits:
Here they are:
___ I’d rather say yes than have a confrontation
___ I don’t want people to think I’m selfish
___ I don’t want this person to be mad at me (or have ill feelings toward me).
___ If I say yes, this person will like me, accept me, approve of me, etc.
___ I want to be a nice person, and nice people don’t say no.
___ I’d rather overextend myself than disappoint someone whose opinion matters to me.
___ If I say yes, this person is more likely to be there for me in the future if I want or need something.
___ I want to be loving, and saying no does not seem loving.
p. 134 The Best Yes Workbook
How did you do?
I checked every single one (except one). I should probably start a People Pleasers Anonymous group. All of these behaviors can be summed up in 4 prevalent traps of people pleasing, says Lysa:
1. THE FEAR OF REJECTION
2. THE FEAR OF DISAPPOINTING PEOPLE
3. THE NEED TO MANAGE PERCEPTIONS
4. THE NEED FOR APPROVAL
Do any of those stand out to you? Number three jumped out at the page and slapped me right across the face. I constantly feel like I need to explain myself, give more detail than necessary, apologize, give the back story, etc to manage people’s perceptions. Not to mention, how annoying is that for others? Sorry everyone. So, I am working on the following mindset.
Here is my new mantra: I trust that people in my life know and love me, and if I mess up, they will see all of me and not just the messy part. I will trust them to forgive me, to talk to me if there is an issue, and to still like me even if I am not perfect, or need to be honest with them, or say “no” to something they are asking. I trust that people I don’t know will appreciate honest, respectful responses from me.
I believe that people-pleasing is born out of a lack of trust that others:
1. Are capable to extend grace
2. Will handle and work through any temporary disappointment they may have in me
3. Will respect the “no” or whatever else I am presenting them and still like me in the future
In short, when we people please, we do not give people in our life the credit they are due. Here are some examples of where we don’t trust people:
~ You need to tell you boss that you need time off. You are afraid they will be mad. Trust that this is part of their job–managing employee absences, and they will handle it professionally.
~ You have to let a friend know that you bit off more than you could chew by volunteering to watch their children two mornings a week. You worry you will disappoint them. You may disappoint her, but trust that she will work it out another way, and both of you will be happier in the end.
~ You plan a vacation after telling a few close people you are watching your pennies. You feel you need to manage perceptions by explaining you travel on points, fly free, and go all-inclusive so it costs next to nothing every time you talk about your upcoming trip (totally guilty of this). You don’t need to do this. It’s no one’s business, and you need to trust that probably no one cares~in fact they are most likely happy for you!
GOOD ROLE MODELS
I have a couple of close friends in my life who are excellent at kindly setting boundaries, expressing their feelings, and not tripping over themselves to make everyone else around them happy. Guess what? I RESPECT those friends immensely! For example, I just had a friend yesterday nicely but directly share that she was disappointed in the customer service she received from a company I work for. While that is always a little disconcerting or uncomfortable to hear, I was so glad she shared that with me so I could explain and correct the situation. If the situation were reversed, I would tend not to say anything for fear of hurting my friend’s feelings–how helpful is that to both parties?
My friend trusted ME enough to be honest.
I look to these friends as examples of how I can grow in this area of my life.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT PEOPLE PLEASING?
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV
Wow. That’s convicting.
In fact, if there is one thing that will cure me of people-pleasing it’s knowing that God is not pleased when I do this! If He is to be my “audience of one” than pleasing Him releases me from winning approval of everyone else around me.
Friends, let’s let go of managing other’s reactions. Let’s be kind an respectful, but honest in our communication. We cannot please everyone all the time, that is okay–we will all survive!
Instead, let’s focus all our energy on pleasing God, since His opinion of us is the only one that truly matters–and will always be full of love and grace.
There is so much more to be said on this topic, so I will write more later. Now, I have to spend some time unsubscribing to emails I signed up for that I didn’t want in the first place.