Published October 09, 2013
We’ve all worked with colleagues who will say “yes” or agree to anything to avoid confrontation.
On the surface, these “people pleasers” may seem like dedicated workers as they tell bosses, colleagues, subordinates and clients only what they want to hear at the expense of what's right. But in reality, this tactic might not be doing themselves—or their company—any favors. In fact, in some cases, it could be hurting their advancement and destroying their careers.
Every worker should strive to be a team player and avoid intentionally causing office tension or problems, but they shouldn’t take their people-pleasing actions to an extreme where they comprise their own value or morals and lose respect for themselves and from others.
If you’re not sure if you are a people pleaser, consider the following four symptoms and how they might be hindering your career success.
Symptom #1: You’re Saying ‘Yes’, But Thinking ‘No’
Why it’s hindering your success: Leaders don’t pander. By saying yes even though you know the answer should be no, you’re sending a message that you can be walked all over. Pushovers don’t realize promotions to leadership roles because they are often seen as lacking a backbone. It’s acceptable to say no or delay answering a request to put together a proper response.
Symptom #2: You Never Voice Your Opinion
Why it’s hindering your success: There is always the possibility of offending someone when giving your two-cents, but you can taper those concerns with how you approach the subject and phrase your opinion. If you don’t believe your work-related opinions are worth saying because you fear offending your co-workers, it will be hard to convince employers to invest and hire you. If you refrain from speaking your mind and offering your expertise, no one (specifically your boss) will know what you’re capable of, leaving you off their radar over for future opportunities.
Symptom #3: You’re Always Apologizing
Why it’s hindering your success: If you mess up at work, you should admit the mistake and work to rectify immediately and detail how you will avoid duplicating the error in the future. But don’t apologize for other’s mistake or if you feel it will help control how others feel. Make decisions based on what you know to be right and you can’t go wrong. By apologizing all the time, you are sending a message that you don’t trust your own judgment. If you can’t trust yourself, no one else will.
Symptom #4: You Aren’t at the Table When Tough Decisions Need to be Made
Why it’s hindering your success: When tough decisions need to be made, people pleasers are the last people to be brought to the table. Their desire to keep everyone happy can be a hindrance to making necessary hard choices. If you can’t be called upon to make tough decisions, you won’t be called upon for promotions, which could leave your career stalled.
Lindsay Broder, The Occupreneur™ Coach (on Twitter @occupreneur), is a certified professional coach based in New York. A Wall Street veteran, she specializes in Occupreneur™ coaching, strategy and crisis-consulting services for executives and organizations who strive to improve their businesses or careers.