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Are We Conditioned?

October 26, 2018

 

I've been speaking about the distinction between serving and pleasing at different events last week, and I've been questioned repeatedly if I think women are conditioned to be people pleasers. Since I am not a social scientist, I can't answer this with reams of data and stacks of studies. I can, however, tell you about my experience with my clients.

I work with both men and women. I have clients in their 20's, some in their 60's, and the rest are somewhere in between. They are ALL people pleasers. I think that our human need to belong is so strong that we will do all sorts of things to get along with others. This is a wonderful attribute, and it is also a barrier. When we slip into people pleasing, we keep our ideas to ourselves, we tolerate bad behavior, and we don't hold ourselves and others accountable. When we fix, solve, save, rescue, butt in, and take over, we may not be helping others at all. When I excuse my son for being late, am I really helping him? When I allow a client to be late in paying me, how is this useful for either of us? When I let my father make derogatory comments about others in my presence, is that good for me or him?

What's alternative, you ask? To serve others. To be a guide. To look out for their best interests. To be uncomfortable. To reflect something that would totally unlock someone if only they could hear it. To share the truth with a person in a way they can truly absorb it and thank you afterward. Pleasing is easy and immediately gratifying. Serving is difficult and leads to long-term success.

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