Am I a People Pleaser or a Pragmatist?

Understanding if I’m a people pleaser or pragmatist has been on my minder as I’ve been reading quite a few blog posts over the last few days about the issues around being a people pleaser. We’ve all done it;

“Don’t worry, after I’ve given my son his breakfast, broke away from his cling on cuddles when I drop him at nursery and open the office to make sure the landlord can change that entrance lightbulb to an energy saving one; I’ll pop round and we’ll have a chat about the breastfeeding Pamela Anderson boob situation you’ve got going on”

Too many balls that are spinning, plates you are juggling……..everything gets a bit confusing when everyone seemingly needs a piece of you. It’s said that characteristics of a people pleaser are

  • Avoiding conflict or disapproval by acquiescing to the wishes of others
  • You never want to hurt anyone else’s feelings even at your own expense
  • You have a hard time making decisions, often deferring to others
  • You have a hard time relaxing and doing nothing

You can find a longer list here. There’s certainly something to be said when some of these characteristic, like any, get a little too extreme. Too much of most things is generally not a good thing if that makes sense, you know, alcohol, sugar………the good stuff. But sometimes I wonder if calling some of this stuff out as ‘dependency tendencies’ or  ‘inauthenticity’ makes us ever more insular?

As humans, we thrive on engagement and interaction. Like it or not, social inclusion and the feeling of belonging is important to all of us and, yes sometimes, it does drive our behaviours. Now, I agree wholeheartedly that we should all stand up and make ourselves heard sometimes. We all have something important to say or contribute and sometimes that does have to be placed ahead of other peoples imminent needs. But overall, isn’t people pleasing part of me-pleasing (cue inappropriate tagging of this post to other ‘types’ of me pleasing) ? We all feel so much better when we’ve lent our friend who’s perhaps recently become a mummy an ear about the hell that is breastfeeding. Or when you really don’t mind if you have red or white wine on date night with the husband (just order any bloody wine and quick!). And bloody hell, life is a whole lot easier when you’re not being unnecessarily argumentative with even the Sainsburys checkout operator to express your ‘voice’. Any extreme of any behaviour – too much people pleasing and too much selfish behaviour isn’t always a good thing. But then, who am I to judge, I’m not sure any of us have reached that utopia of ‘balance’ that we all strive for.  To sum up, the following quote really stood out to me today;

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around” (Leo Buscaglia)

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