Join Africa's fastest growing career community!


Why People Pleasing Is Derailing Your Career and How To Stop It

Discover how to stop people pleasing and uncover your full potential as a professional.

Article Preview Image

Discover how to stop people pleasing and uncover your full potential as a professional.

Image Source: Cookie Studio on Freepik

Do you frequently find yourself agreeing to every request at work, driven by a reluctance to disappoint or be disliked? Do you often go above and beyond, seeking approval or acceptance? If you nodded along to these scenarios, it's time for a reality check – you might be a people pleaser. Unfortunately, this inclination is likely why you often feel inundated by overwhelming expectations. People-pleasing is a behavioural pattern wherein individuals prioritize others' needs and approval over their desires. Though it might initially seem selfless, succumbing to people-pleasing can significantly impede your career advancement.


How did you get here? 

1. Lack of Self-Confidence. People pleasers often lack a strong sense of self-worth and self-confidence. They constantly seek validation from others, which undermines their ability to make decisions and take actions that are true to their values and desires. 

2. Overwhelming Fear. Being a people pleaser often stems from a strong fear of rejection or confrontation. The constant need for validation arises from the fear of saying 'No' or making mistakes, creating a cycle where one seeks approval from others to avoid potential conflict or disapproval.

3. Lack of Boundaries. People pleasers often have difficulty setting and maintaining boundaries. They are willing to go above and beyond to please others, sacrificing their own time and energy. This lack of boundaries can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and reduced productivity, all of which can hinder career success.

4. Lack of Authenticity. The constant need for validation from others can lead to a lack of authenticity in your professional relationships because the main goal is to make people happy over doing the right thing. 


5 signs you are a people pleaser

1. Difficulty Saying "No". If you find it challenging to decline requests or favours, even when it inconveniences you or goes against your preferences, it may indicate a people-pleasing tendency. People pleasers often fear disappointing others and, as a result, struggle to assert their own needs or boundaries.

2. Difficulty Setting Boundaries. People pleasers often struggle to establish clear boundaries, finding it hard to say "no" even when it may compromise their own needs, time, or well-being.

3. Excessive Apologizing. If you find yourself frequently apologizing, even for things beyond your control or that are not your fault, it might be a sign of a people-pleasing tendency. This stems from a desire to keep others happy and avoid any perceived conflict.

4. Neglecting Your Own Needs. Consistently prioritizing the needs of others over your own, and neglecting self-care or personal goals may signal people-pleasing behaviour. This pattern can result in feelings of resentment or frustration over time, as your own needs take a backseat to those of others.

5. Constant Need for Approval. When your self-worth is dependent on external validation and the approval of others, you might be a people pleaser. Seeking constant reassurance and feeling uneasy when not receiving praise can be indicative of this behaviour.


3 Ways People Pleasing is Derailing Your Career

There's a price to be paid for being too nice. You spend so much time taking care of others that you run yourself ragged, neglect your wants and needs, and lose your sense of self. Fear of rejection forces you to meet everyone else's expectations. But what about you? What are you missing out on when you're stuck being the “Yes Guy”?

Here is how this whole act is affecting your career:

1. Impaired Decision-Making and Leadership Skills. People-pleasers often struggle to make decisions that may be perceived as unpopular. This hesitancy can lead to indecision, a lack of clear leadership, and an inability to navigate complex situations decisively. In a professional setting, this can hinder career progression, as leadership roles typically require individuals who can make tough decisions with confidence.

2. Burnout and Reduced Productivity. Constantly striving to meet the expectations and demands of others at the expense of your well-being can lead to burnout. People pleasers may find themselves overcommitting, working long hours, and neglecting self-care. This sustained level of stress can ultimately diminish productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction, hindering professional growth.

3. Limited Personal and Professional Growth. Constantly prioritizing others' needs over your own can result in neglecting your personal and professional development. People pleasers may avoid taking risks or pursuing challenging opportunities that could contribute to their growth, ultimately stagnating their career advancement. Focusing solely on making others happy can leave little room for investing in your own skill development and career goals.


Strategies for Breaking Free

1. Practice Self-Care. Take time for yourself and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Self-care helps to recharge your batteries and restore your self-confidence.

2. Set Boundaries. Learn to say "no" when necessary and establish healthy boundaries in your personal and professional life. This will help you prioritize your own needs and prevent burnout. It is also important to learn not to feel guilty about disappointing others with your boundaries. 

3. Learn to Trust Your Instincts. Trust your judgment and instincts when making important decisions. Trust that you can make informed decisions and take actions that are right for you.

4. Be Authentic. Express your true thoughts and feelings, even when it's uncomfortable. Authenticity fosters trust and respect in your relationships, both personally and professionally.

5. Take Risks. Step out of your comfort zone and take risks that align with your career goals. Don't be afraid to fail or make mistakes - it's through taking risks that we grow and learn.

6. Seek Support. Surround yourself with a supportive network of individuals who believe in you and encourage you. Seek out mentors, coaches, or colleagues who can provide guidance and advice when needed.


People pleasing can be detrimental to your career, as it undermines self-confidence, stifles creativity, and hinders professional growth. By breaking free from this pattern and prioritizing your own needs, you can regain your footing and embark on a more fulfilling and successful career journey. Remember, your career success depends on your ability to trust yourself, set boundaries, and be authentically you.

Similar Read: Setting Workplace Boundaries – The Key to Avoiding Overstretching Yourself

Written by

Mercy Mukisa

Hey there, I'm Mercy Mukisa, a Senior HR Officer writing to you from the lively heart of Uganda. Writing is my way of contributing to the professional community, grounded in the belief that knowledge is the key to empowerment. In the dynamic field of HR, I'm not just a participant; I see it as a privilege to share the insights and experiences gathered along the way. It's not just about the job; it's a commitment to enhancing your professional journey. So, let's navigate through the pages of my articles together, aiming for a balanced and insightful exploration of empowerment and growth.

Give a like!


Sign in to read comments and engage with the Fuzu community.

Login or Create a Free Account