Many of us, especially if we have perfectionist characteristics, are concerned about other people’s opinions of us at work. As a result, we may engage in people pleasing behaviours, which then have consequences on our career wellbeing.

How people pleasing at work shows up

Not sure what this looks like at work? Here are some of the ways:

  • You take on more responsibility than you can comfortably manage because you don’t want to disappoint someone else. (you’re overworked)
  • You stay quiet in group settings or don’t voice your opinion(s) to colleagues in order to maintain harmony. (you’re less visible)
  • You don’t express your feelings when something is done or said that upsets you because you don’t want the other person to be angry with you. (you retreat)
  • You agree to do things that you don’t want to do because you think that saying “no” will negatively change the other person’s opinion of you. (you fall out of integrity)

I’m people-pleasing: What do I do?

Common advice for curbing people pleasing at work includes: setting boundaries, identifying your priorities, pausing before saying “yes”, and setting goals. That advice is solid, but not easy to implement. Accessing the support of  a coach and/or therapist to enact these behaviours helps.

I’m not going to pretend there is a straightforward approach or solution to modifying our behaviour; for many of us, this is an ongoing journey. And, clearly, I’m not advocating for being uncaring or insensitive towards other people.

An easy place to start: Determine your people pleasing “type”

Change, we know, starts with self-awareness. So my suggestion is to grow your awareness of your people pleasing behaviours. A great way to start is by determining what kind of people pleasing you engage in.

What, you think, “I thought there was only one kind”?!

According to Natalie Lue, author of “The Joy of Saying No”, there are five types of people pleasing. They are:

  1. Gooding: You’re concerned about being good, and/or looking good to others.
  2. Efforting: This one is all about how much work you put in, being a perfectionist, and pleasing others by how much effort you exert.
  3. Avoiding: You avoid conflict at all costs and don’t want to disrupt things.
  4. Saving: You give (a lot), want to save others, and fix problematic situations. You have trouble with boundaries.
  5. Suffering: You keep tolerating, putting up with things. You’ve learned that saying “no” is bad thing.

To learn more about the above about the 5 types of people-pleasing, listen to this podcast episode with Natalie Lue.


If you’d like to experience more joy at work and in your career, I can help. Find out how by booking a free consultation here.

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