Do you feel like you say ‘yes’ when you would prefer to say no? Does everyone ask you for your help because they dropped the ball on something in their life? Are you feeling a little resentful? Do you feel a little overwhelmed? Do you ever try to avoid certain people because they ask for help every time you talk to them? Are you ready to do something about it? Is it time to stop people pleasing?

Here are four tips you can start to implement right now, to take back your power, and stop being exhausted by your people pleasing tendencies.

And best of all, you can do it nicely!

Mastering the art of the “Nice No”

You have lots of options when you want to say no. You don’t need to be aggressive, defensive, or rude when refusing to agree to something that you don’t have time for, is not convenient for you, or makes you feel uncomfortable. The easiest way to change your mindset about saying no is to imagine what you would tell your best friend if they were in this situation. Just be straightforward, polite, and calm. You are not required to provide any excuses for your refusal. And you don’t owe anyone an explanation, just a calm refusal.

If it is extremely difficult for you to say no, feel free to download the “People Pleasing Worksheet“. This will give you more clarity on your people pleasing propensities.

The best way to keep from being put on the spot is to write yourself script along the lines of “No, doing X isn’t possible today/this week/that night.” Alternately, you can let then know you need to think about it, and will have to get back to them later. This will give you a chance to think of (or google!) an appropriate response tailored to the specific request. Your “Nice No” needs to feel right for you, so find the script that you are comfortable with, but remember to keep it short, sweet and polite.

Don‘t Apologize

You can always use a “Thank you” instead of a “sorry”. If your first reflex is to apologize you may need to quarantine the word “sorry”, and only use it in situations when it is appropriate, such as when providing sympathy. As a recovering People Pleaser, I realized that I used ‘sorry’ as a defensive mechanism. I was always sorry for something! Essentially I was saying don’t be mad at me for not complying with your wishes. When you repeatedly say sorry, you give your power to the other person. This then creates the perception that you are at fault with your response to a no-fault situation.

Alternately, when you say “thank you”, you create a sense that you value them. You can create a script, such as, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I just can’t fit that in my schedule.” or “Thank you for offering me the opportunity to _____, but I will have to pass on it.”

Some people see your apology as a sign of powerlessness, and will keep pushing to see if you’ll give in. Remember that you have the right (and obligation to yourself), to refuse to accept a responsibility that is not yours. Taking on something that rightfully belongs to someone else, allows them to continue to be helpless. Just firmly stand your ground and repeat your refusal politely and respectfully. Most importantly, you don’t need to say sorry!

Create a compromise

You can create a balance between acting like a people pleaser and being unreasonable. Occasionally you may have to step outside your job description, or take on extra family responsibilities to get things done. You may be asked to work the weekend. Sometimes you may be expected to stay after your normal workday is over. Similarly, a family member may ask you to lend them money or your time.

Rather than just say no, you can offer an alternative. Perhaps you offer to work the requested hours, if your boss will give you time off on another day. You also may be able to take the work home, or reschedule one of your other tasks to complete the extra work right away instead. Furthermore, you can provide your family member with things they can do to help you, if you help them. This allows them to reciprocate and own that their request is taking something from you. When they provide value to you they will build responsibility and self-respect.

Build some boundaries

If you have been a pleaser, you most likely have people in your life that seem to come to you repeatedly. Every time you turn around they are asking for something more from you. Because you have had a hard time saying “no” in the past, they may continue to push their responsibilities onto you. Consequently you will need to build some strong boundaries with these people. You should, however, be prepared for them to test you for a while. When you respect your time and energy, others will start to respect it too!

As a result, you should set some time aside to decide what your boundaries are. Then you can plan out your response for when someone is crossing them. You need to know what your boundaries are so you can clearly share them respectfully. Almost everyone around you will accept them quickly. Additionally, you will receive more respect and trust when you set and maintain clear boundaries. You will also find that it is easier for you to keep the communication channels open. Similarly, actively balancing out your assertiveness with cooperation, creates a win-win situation for everyone.

Need some free information on creating healthy boundaries? Head on over to Build Better Boundaries! It’s one of the key activities that can help you stop people pleasing.

Pulling it all together

Choose one situation where you want to say “no” and make a plan! Imagine the request and choose your “Nice No” sentence. Remember you can always include a “Thank you”. Don’t include a “sorry”. Craft a compromise if you need one. Make sure that you respect your boundaries. Say your “Nice No” again as needed. You can stop people pleasing today!

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