Two Steps can Save People-Pleasers

Many of us are people-please’rs. As such, we have had many occasions to share encouraging, exciting conversation, and no doubt just as often have needed to discuss the difficult. In these hard occasions we may sit back and ask ourselves, “How will so/so think about this new development?” Maybe a boss is expecting something from us and now we are challenged to deliver. Maybe we are heading to an important meeting and something slows us down, making us late. Maybe we forgot to share relevant, important news, or were just fearful of the repercussions of doing so, and didn’t. When people please’rs want to please but their message may not, barriers arise.

People-please’rs fall into 2 types.

Some of us are I’s – people who care about our reputation and don’t want to show up as less than competent. Influencers, we appeal to the interests of others and likewise appreciate positive recognition. So when flaws surface, we fumble around. Although our usual communication style is one full of initiative and eagerness to talk with others, we hesitate and feel impaired in communicating when issues arise. We blubber, and we don’t know where to begin or when to end.

Before we look at steps that break down communication barriers, let’s consider the second type of folks who, while people-focused, are not used to taking initiative – the S’s. (These single letter communication styles, tied to DISC, represent four communication patterns that show preferences and behaviors natural to individuals.)

We S’s care about peace of mind or calmness and tend to hold back communication unless we are comfortable with it. Our steadiness shows up as poise and a sense of calm. But this outward calm belies our inner turmoil. We can handle a moment of conflict well, if we allow ourselves to. Many times, we don’t. We instead retreat into our shell, escaping the opportunity to seize the moment.

So what does it take for people-pleasers to communicate well when what we have to say is difficult?

1. Have a structure that allows us ease in speaking up. 

This structure keeps us from blubbering and focusing on feelings too long. With a structure, we keep in mind what points we need to say and how to do so. I’s need structure so they can grab onto a discipline for sharing both emotions and facts, for being heard while also making their point.

Consider the following structure for when sharing difficult information:

This is what I want out of our relationship: I wanted to show you I value your choice to see me today, by showing up on time.

This is what happened: I had to deal with some last minute issues before they escalated and then noticed I left later than I intended.

This is how I feel: Sorry to have wasted your time.

Therefore, this is what I will do: I will make it up to you by keeping this short/by buying your coffee/by proving next time that I am timely.

Keep each response short and to the point.

2. Get outside your head/shell and watch listeners. 

Staying in our head allows our negative voice to take control. It may say, “control your nerves” which translates into monotone delivery, dull speech and lack of commitment to our words. When we get outside our head we focus on listeners and see their heart as well as their head. We notice their feelings and can address them as needed instead of assuming them and running to escape. Most anxieties are based on things that never happen.

Consider these means of getting outside your head/shell:

  • look at listeners
  • pause
  • take your time to gather your thoughts instead of rushing through them
  • acknowledge listener responses
  • allow time for interaction – this eliminates “pushing our ideas” onto listeners and tightens relationship

People-please’rs, you know you are quick to help others save face. Accept the fact that you will make mistakes, while doing your best not to. Everyone does. When this happens, use the above structure and ability to be present (AKA taking time to be face to face) as your means for repairing relationship AND coming across well. You’ll break down two barriers in the process!

As a result, you’ll save your reputation and re-discover peace of mind you’ll be proud of.

Individual communication coaching

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On March 26th, 2015, posted in: Uncategorized by