People pleasing at work will derail your career.
The Easter bunny is nice. Yet they say sugar is more addictive than cocaine and heroin. Maybe not so nice.
This Easter weekend I thought I was being nice.
It was on the tennis court. I accidentally hit the ball from my partner’s fault towards the feet of the server on the next court. I was worried she’d trip and hurt herself, so I started to walk off our court to retrieve it. I quickly learned that’s not so nice. It was akin to abandoning my team and then digging a deeper hole by interfering with another group. I quickly learned it wasn’t tennis etiquette.
Have you ever done that at work? Without thinking, you consider someone else only to discover that you’ve made it worse for yourself and others too? It’s people pleasing at its worst.
The idea is to be assertive without being inconsiderate or deferential.
On the court it could have been me shouting out “ball” towards the people on the next court (and not walking off my own). They have eyes too. They’d have seen it.
At work, it could be many different things. Here’s a few that come to mind:
- getting clear on what you want /expect and communicating that directly.
- holding people to account for their results rather than being ‘nice’ to keep things pleasant.
- negotiating a realistic timeframe rather than agreeing to a ridiculous deadline to be ‘nice’ to a client.
- dealing with a conflict or difficult situation rather than avoiding it for fear of appearing mean.
Don’t kid yourself that you’re being nice. What’s thoughtful from one perspective can appear thoughtless or even stupid from another.
Empathy still matters. In fact, if you want to be a great leader then it pays to be an empathic master. But it’s strategic empathy you want.
You don’t want to be so empathic that you end up making it better for someone else and worse for you or your team. But that’s really sugar coating it. It’s people pleasing at work.
So be honest with yourself…are you too nice?