How can I stop being a people pleaser yet that’s my character?

Friday December 18 2020
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By Jane Muiruri

Dear Jane,
Whereas I consider myself a team player and an employee who always gives his best at work, a close friend recently told me that I am a people pleaser and that it may jeopardise my career trajectory. Surely, what is so wrong about always being nice to colleagues? How can I avoid it? Sophia.

Dear Sophia, 
It is not bad to be a people pleaser. However you must set boundaries. 

This personality will obviously endear you to colleagues but if you don’t have limits it can be detrimental and colleagues might take advantage of you. 

If you find yourself frequently bending over backwards to gratify others by taking up extra responsibilities and covering for other people’s mistakes, you will end up burned out and frustrated. 

In extreme cases, you may have psychosocial challenges, especially if your efforts are not appreciated or reciprocated.
You might also ignore your tasks while assisting others to complete theirs.

People pleasers struggle to maintain boundaries in relationships and often sacrifice their personal happiness to please others. If you hold a leadership role, you may find it hard to deliver feedback especially on issues relating to non-performance.


You might end up taking up all responsibilities to avoid confrontation with your team. In the short term, it might seem like you are a good and likeable boss, but in the long term, you will realise that you are doing your team a disservice by denying them the opportunity to know and improve on their areas of weakness.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Those with this tendency are good at resolving disputes since they don’t take sides during arguments. 
Instead, they try to see the positive side of each party. They also make good team members. Some careers, such as service roles in the hospitality industry, require people pleasers.

To strike a good balance, learn how to politely decline additional responsibilities, giving the reason for your decision. Don’t agree to all deadlines because you might get overwhelmed. Instead, bargain for realistic timelines. Be more self-aware and focus on celebrating small wins so that you don’t depend on external validation to stay motivated.

It is OK to have a different perspective on issues, so don’t always feel pressured to conform.

Jane Muiruri, 
Senior HR Manager, 
Nation Media Group