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Dear People-Pleasers: Ready to take back your life & start saying “No,” to users?

Are you getting used by coworkers, manipulators and the narcissists in your life? Don’t know how to “nicely” say “no,” as a people pleaser? Worry about what they’ll say about you behind your back? Then this week’s Dear Desirée column is for you!

Woman laying down, smiling blissfully with the words "You have to like yourself to live your best life" superimposed over

Dear Desirée,

Please help! I can no longer deal with coworkers who use up all my time and don’t respect me. Everyday I’m cleaning up messes I didn’t make, and listening endlessly to gossip and complaining I have no interest in from the very people who show so little disregard for me!

I am at my wit’s end on how to deal with the two coworkers who constantly dump their work and negativity on me. I try to stay cheerful and positive and get my work done, but lately I’m burning up with resentment.

I’ve tried to listen and be thoughtful. I’ve tried to act busy when they “drop” by to visit and vent. I’ve tried to keep earphones in and listen to professional webinars in the hope they will get the hint, to no avail.

I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or worse, have the two office gossips turn on me for no longer being available, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how to nicely and gracefully say no to their many requests and all the complaining without having that happen.

I do need their cooperation for certain work tasks, so I’m afraid to anger them for fear they will no longer cooperate with, and might spread gossip about me.

Ugh, I’m a nice person, why does this keep happening to me?

—People-pleasing in Pensacola


Dear Pensacola,

There is one *small* thing you haven’t tried yet: You haven’t tried saying the words “no,” out loud to your two coworkers.

“No, I don’t have time for that today.”

“No, I can’t help you with that.”

“No, I can’t listen to your complaint today.”

Instead, you’re trying to control the one thing you can’t: other people’s emotions and reactions. If you could, wouldn’t you have made them happy by now, so they’d stop complaining to you & dumping their work on your desk?

People pleasers are always at a disadvantage when it comes to users and manipulators because of how desperate they are too look good in other people’s eyes.

When you care more about how other people see you, then you do about your own self-image and integrity, you are an easy target for other's to manipulate.

Let me ask you a question:

How do *you* feel when you are pretending that you don’t mind doing their extra work, even though you do?

How do *you* feel about yourself when you allow them to use you as their personal dumping ground for all their negative garbage?

My guess is, you don’t feel great. That feeling is a sign that you’re out of integrity.

How do *you* feel when you pretend to enjoy their company, when deep down you’ve said you suspect they don’t really respect you?

Again, you probably feel very uncomfortable in their presence. And again, that’s a clear sign that you need more distance from these two people.

But as long as you’re pretending to not mind being a sympathetic ear for all their complaints, and doing their work, they will continue to use you.

If you want them to leave you alone, you have to be honest, probably to yourself first, that you don’t enjoy being in their presence. That having someone actively dump their work on you, use you, and then expect you to be their unpaid therapist on top of all of that, doesn’t feel good.

And you’re going to have to admit, that you don’t like yourself when you do that.

You are going to have to start caring more about how you feel about yourself, then how you imagine they see you.

Once you do, you’ll stop trying to control and manage their feelings about you by caving to their every demand.

And they’ll stop being able to manipulate you into going against your truth and integrity because of it.

That’s the first part step in stopping the people pleasing. Getting real about the damage you’re doing to your own self-image and good opinion of yourself.

The second part, is gently untying your sense of safety and survival from courting other people’s approval. You need to teach yourself that your survival doesn’t depend on getting their approval, or on you learning how to endure their worst behavior.

Your survival depends on you listening to your feelings and moving away from things that don’t feel good, including people who don't feel good.

And the way to do that is to learn to give off the “no” vibe slowly. You're going to show yourself that you can survive saying "no" to others, even when they don't like it.

Start small. Take a week and simply stop smiling when those coworkers come into your office. Don’t try to avoid the conversations or say no, just yet. Listen, nod, make eye contact, respond to them, but practice not smiling.

Once you get the hang of that, add to it for another week: Now stop nodding, as well as smiling, when they come into your office or space to complain or dump work on you.

The next week stop responding verbally in any way. Just listen blankly and wait for them to finish, and change the subject.

And the week after: Stop making eye contact during their tirades or requests. Give them five minutes and then simply go back to your work. The first moment you can, intercede with “I’m sorry, I have to get back to work now. I’m really under the gun.”

Eventually they will get the idea.

Better yet, you will start to have shown yourself, that it’s safe for you to put up a boundary, to put distance between you and someone you don’t enjoy.

That someone can not like you, not like your "no", and you can still be ok.

And that’s going to mean that eventually, you can tell people “no.” very simply and without all the drama. They may like it or hate it, but that won’t be your concern (or your problem).

And the golden ticket to all of this? How much more you will like yourself and your life, when it’s free of needing other people to like you for you. Now that’s something worth saying "no," for.


Hey there reader,

I hope that helped you to figure out how to stop the insanity of the people-pleasing and create a freer, more expansive life, where you get to love yourself, no matter what anyone else in your life thinks.

If you’d like more help dissolving old people pleasing habits and finding the power in your “no,” I’m here for it!

I am a life coach for women ready to style, beautify and make their lives fun again! And having great boundaries is a big part of that. You can’t have a life of your own, until you learn how to make peace with telling others “no.”

So if you’re ready that, book here for you FREE consult! It’s a fun way to get clarity, chat about what’s going on, and see what life coaching is all about!

With that, I’m off! I will see you all next week!

Oh and before you go. I have a gift for you!

Get your absolutely FREE guide: "55 Simple Pleasures to Wake up your Ordinary Days."

I'm getting a lot of great feedback from people on it, and I want to make sure you have a chance to grab your copy before it's gone!

Can’t get enough? Need more? I like you’re style! Here are some other articles you might enjoy:

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1 kommentar

17 feb. 2022

Good advice—love it!!

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