People pleasing is a curse on business growth

  • 24 Feb 2021
  • By Laura Bennett
  • Read in 5 Minutes

Tags: business advice, business growth, Business Tips, Mental Health

People pleasing is a curse on business growth

People-pleasing might sound like a positive thing, unfortunately it can be a curse on your business and its growth.

Does any of the following sound familiar?

You struggle to say no.
You take responsibility for how others feel.
You sometimes take on more than you can handle?

If so, you may be a people-pleasing person.

And while that might sound like a positive thing, unfortunately it can be a curse on your business and its growth.

In this article we’re going to explain why people pleasing isn’t as positive as it sounds, and give you some tips on how you can avoid people pleasing to ensure the best possible success and growth for your business.

Let’s call a spade a spade

People pleasing sounds like a relatively positive term, but let’s call a spade a spade here and remind ourselves that people pleasing can also be known as over-responding. Already that doesn’t sound like such a good thing.

While responding quickly can be great in some circumstances that require immediate attention, as a business owner, over-responding isn’t something you should be doing. We’ll go into more detail about this later!

People-pleasing is common

Over-responding, or people pleasing, isn’t something to be ashamed of at all. It’s very common for small business owners, particularly for female business owners according to Synnovatia.

If you’re in a situation where your business has more control over you than you do of it, people pleasing is definitely something you can find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle of.

If you feel that your business is in the driving seat instead of yourself, read our blog all about that and how to get out of that situation here.

However, just because people-pleasing is a relatively easy trap to fall into, that shouldn’t mean you have to. It’s a curse on business growth and it’s important that you bring yourself out of that mindset if you’re there. Here’s why.

Curses of people-pleasing on business growth

1 – It pulls you off your course

Quite possibly the biggest curse of people-pleasing is that it pulls you off course. As a business owner you will have your own strategy and goals, and plan for how you’ll get there. The moment you start people-pleasing and doing what others ask you to do, you lose time, energy and focus from what you should be doing.

In other words it causes unnecessary distractions and makes it harder for you to reach your goals, meaning that your business growth becomes limited.

The Harvard Business Review sums this up perfectly in saying “a cycle of responsiveness leads to neglect of the most important activities.”

Instead of focusing on growing your business, you end up off track with your attention elsewhere, where it shouldn’t be.

2 – It can lead to overworking and even burnout

When you start people-pleasing you have two options. Either drop your original plans and goals, or try to fit everything in.

The former means that you get pulled off track, as already mentioned. The latter means that you end up overworking by trying to fit everything into your already limited time.

This overworking can mean that you spend your evenings and weekends multitasking to fit everything in, instead of enjoying your hobbies, spending time with your family or any other form of relaxation.

Overworking without any form of break can lead to stress and burnout, both of which are bad for your health and your business.

The National Institute of Mental Health says that “continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses”.

In addition, an increase in stress and burnout makes it harder for you to focus on your business as you end up losing both motivation and energy.

3 – You lack time to reflect

One of the most successful ways to grow your business is to reflect on what has gone well in the past and what didn’t work out as you had hoped. This reflection time allows you to capitalise on, and repeat, previous achievements and avoid making decisions that didn’t pay off.

When you spend too much time either people-pleasing or struggling to get everything done, you lose this time to reflect. This can mean you lose strategic focus in your business, making it hard to grow.

In short, as a business owner, you’re the one who pays the price when you end up people-pleasing.

Getting out of the people-pleasing trap

Although people-pleasing is a common trap to fall into, there are ways you can avoid it altogether, or pull yourself out of the vicious circle.

Here are our top three tips to avoid and stop people-pleasing

1 – Learn to say no

Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad boss. Learning to say no to colleagues and staff shows both strength and good leadership.

Knowing when you personally are at your limit is a good thing because it avoids putting yourself under pressure or stress of trying to meet unrealistic expectations and standards.

You may find in some situations that you initially say no, you haven’t got the time, but something frees itself up and you’re able to fit it in. This is a better alternative to saying yes and either failing to complete a task and potentially letting someone down, or overworking yourself to get it done.

Even if you don’t end up finding the time, saying no to others is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s one of the best ways to both avoid and stop people-pleasing, and once you’ve mastered it, your attention can fully be on important tasks that will help your business grow, such as reflection.

2- Set boundaries and stick to them

Another great tip to help with people-pleasing is to set boundaries and stick to them.

This may mean that you sign off from work at 5.30pm and don’t look at your emails until at least 8am the following morning. It may also mean that you only take on a certain number of extra challenges per week. However you decide to set boundaries, the second most important thing is that you stick to them.

There’s no point in setting boundaries that you’ll break.

In doing this, a time schedule can often help by structuring your day and allocating your “me” time. This could be time away from your desk, exercise, or an evening dedicated to a hot bath and meditation.

No matter what works for you, find a way to set boundaries that give you some breathing space and stick to them.

3 – Ask for help

Whether that’s asking your colleague to make sure you stick to your set boundaries and take a screen break at lunch, or working with a business adviser to help keep you accountable, asking for help is a great way to stop people-pleasing.

Working with business consulting services, such as a business adviser, can help identify what goals you have for your business and how you can get there. A business adviser also helps keep you accountable for the actions you said you would (and wouldn’t) take.

Once you have these goals firmly established with an adviser, you’re more likely to avoid people-pleasing because you know that completing these extra tasks aren’t going to help you achieve these goals.

Your business adviser can also help remind you why you shouldn’t be taking on unnecessary loads.

Contact us

People-pleasing sounds like a positive term. It sounds like a great way to make friends, keep everyone happy and get everything done.

In reality, that’s never how it works.

In pleasing others, the only person who suffers is you, and as a result, so does your business.

For help with avoiding people-pleasing, and staying on track with your goals, consider working with a business adviser.

Here at Mustard, our qualified business advisers have years of experience in helping business owners identify and stick to their business goals, to enable the growth of their businesses.

Interested in what our services can do for you and your business growth?
Contact us today.

Curious to know how Mustard could help your business?

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