• Dr. Julie Granger DPT

How people pleasing is killing your business

We are taught as children "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"

Or ... that it's virtuous and "good people" always put other people first.

There is nothing wrong with this. These are excellent adages and ideas to allow the budding, nascent mind of the child to grasp the somewhat abstract concepts of kindness, compassion, grace, and humility. The child (and teen) mind is extremely black and white -- it's the only way it can process.

But the problem is, we often carry these lessons at face value into adulthood when we have a brain that can now process BEYOND the black-and-white and into the gray abstract world. But, we keep on practicing the black and white, not realizing that in doing so it also means...

  • Not speaking up when something bothers us and sticking with toxic situations that suck the life out of us (telling and justifying it to ourselves because we don't want to let anyone down or make waves).

  • Not asking for what we need -- whether that means not delegating, not being vulnerable and seeking help, or taking on way too much (telling ourselves and justifying this because we don't want to "be an inconvenience" to anyone)

  • Not saying no or setting boundaries -- being a "yes" person (telling ourselves we don't want to disappoint anyone or make them mad)

  • Setting ourselves on fire in order to keep others warm (telling ourselves we are solely responsible for everyone else's experience of lives, emotions, and well being)

Sound familiar? If it does, don't worry--you are definitely not alone!

Almost all of us have a little practicing (or recovering) people-pleaser inside of us.

And remember--this version of ourselves comes from a REALLY good place.

But it can certainly be taken to far and/or can backfire, can't it?

And it has a sneaky way of making us believe we are responsible for everyone else's experience of life -- that we can literally "make" someone else feel a certain way -- as if we can reach our fingers into their heads and connect the "make them feel" neurons for them! Or that we are mind readers or have some magical power to brainwash! This is obviously impossible when you stop and think about it (and maybe even a little comical!), yet we continue to people please because we believe we have this power over others.

This can show up in sneaky ways we don't even realize. Like in your business.

How does this affect your business?

  • **Maybe you find it hard to say the price of your services for fear the potential client will get upset or feel inadequate. **So you offer your lowest price package or feel you need to overexplain why your service is cash-based or priced the way it is ... only to later feel frustrated that you're just not seeing the revenue growth you want, you're still having to work a pay-the-bills job, and you haven't been able to cut yourself loose and go full time in your own business.

  • Perhaps you find yourself taking clients after your normal work hours or on weekends because they tell you that they can't get in during your normal hours. At first, this seems like no big deal and even like a really nice service you offer people -- and you think "How cool is it that I'm my own boss and I can decide to do this for people!?" But eventually, you find yourself feeling resentful to the client, wondering how to get them to schedule during normal hours, and you feel frustrated because your work is now -- yet again -- spilling over into your personal and family time.

  • **Maybe you keep hesitating to put yourself "out there" because you don't want to come across as pushy or salesy **-- or for people to think that you are all about the money. So the anxiety continues -- you're not sure when you'll be able to finally make the leap, where the clients will actually come from, or when your spouse will stop asking "when are you actually going to make some money and contribute?"

  • **It could be that you constantly flip flop on your branding, messaging, what it is you call yourself, what you offer, or what your programs and services look like. **Maybe you write and rewrite your website or emails or posts before you can finally push "publish." Maybe you're constantly asking people what they want or what they think. Or maybe you keep coming up with new programs and services and try to bite off more than you can chew. Perfectionism takes over your thoughts and you keep wondering why you can't just let it go already.

  • **Or maybe you just can't seem to quit your pay-the-bills job and break loose--even though you know in your heart that when doing so, it will allow you to soar in your own business. **Your boss has done "so much" for you and you genuinely love what you do there, and you don't want to burn bridges or let your patients down. So you continue working way too much in a way you no longer want to (for far too little pay) and keep saying "I'll quit in 2 months" (then 2 months comes) and then "2 more months" and on and on and on...

If any of those sound familiar -- you're also not alone!

Stepping into business ownership is not "business as usual" and is a far cry from being an employee.

You take on tons of new roles and responsibilities -- most of which you have no formal training in -- and it's ok gif you're not a total expert at them.

**Most importantly -- the business and entrepreneurial journey is a spiritual and emotional one. This is normal. **

There's nothing like starting a business to drudge up the pesky little habits and beliefs you've been practicing ... like people-pleasing.

This is also normal.

But just because it's normal doesn't mean you have to keep doing it.

You can practice something new...learning to find, listen to, and honor that little voice in your heart.

All that anxiety and frustration you feel? That's the little voice doing its best day after day to get your attention. It's begging you to stop listening to everyone else and start listening to yourself.

It's pleading with you to stop selling yourself out.

YOU are the BOSS. You probably started a business so you could do things YOUR way, be in charge of your schedule, make what you deserve, and most importantly--serve people in your own unique heart-centered way.

It's ok if you're not well-practiced at doing that. Why would you be? Until now, you've been well-practiced -- in fact likely an expert -- at doing everything for everyone else, at looking around for the "right" way to do things ... instead of listening to the answers coming from your own heart, honoring your own wishes, letting your own unique creative light shine, and stepping into your own voice.

It's not selfish to do that. It's not unloving to set boundaries. In fact, it's one of the most loving things you can do --honoring yourself casts a firm light onto and sets an example of a practice you likely want your own clients, your friends, your children, or your family to learn.

Actions speak louder than words.

The most successful people get started before they're ready. You don't need to be an expert at this to get started. You don't need to completely master self-honor in one fell swoop. You can just take the first baby step. And then every baby step after that.

AND -- the most successful people tap into their own hearts, set strong boundaries, ask for help when they need it, and don't go at it alone.

If you're well practiced or even recovering from practicing people-pleasing -- don't worry. You can learn all of those things.

It sometimes feels scary -- and yes, on occasion people won't like when you set boundaries or step into your own unique light.

But you will grow stronger, more courageous, and more steadfast -- which will make it WAY easier to continuously take the baby steps you need to reach your goals.

You're worth it -- it is your birthright -- and you do not need to prove to others that you are worth honoring.

Ready to let go -- chip away slowly -- at the practice of people-pleasing?

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