(Insecurity and the Path to Self-Confidence, Part 3)

When your boss makes a small correction or suggestion about your work, how do you react? Do you accept the suggestion and move on, or do you dwell on it for hours or even days? 

While it isn’t unusual to dislike negative feedback, allowing something inconsequential to ruin your waking (and possibly non-waking) hours is a sign that you may be a Pleaser. 

Insecurity manifests in the Pleaser as a need for outside reassurance in order to feel good about themself. Unlike the Sideways Glancer (discussed in Part 2 of this series) who seeks happiness through comparison to others, the Pleaser seeks happiness in the emotional acceptance by others. 

This dynamic exists in business when employees attach their self-worth to the approval of those with whom they work. They have a strong need to please their manager, their peers, and even their subordinates. Critically, the Pleaser’s desire to please can diminish their ability to make independent decisions. 

As a result, the Pleaser becomes dependent on the opinions of others. They live with a disproportionate amount of anxiety centered on avoiding the displeasure of coworkers instead of focusing on their actual work. 

They are fearful of doing or saying anything that may be controversial, and they are most comfortable with a fixed routine. They have difficulty holding others accountable or having difficult conversations, for fear of being disliked. 

This propensity to please is typically rooted in the relationship between individuals and their families of origin. Children may equate pleasing the authority figures in their lives with being loved. This leads them to become adaptive and compliant to their parents’ wishes. 

The fear of disappointing others often generalizes beyond authority figures to include others in the Pleaser’s life. This desire to please may initially benefit career trajectory, but reaches a ceiling when a Pleaser is promoted to a management position, and they are required to make independent decisions and hold subordinates accountable. 

In addition to the long-term workplace challenges that Pleasers face, the desire to please can lead to personal misery. Falling into an emotional spiral at the slightest sign of disapproval is unhealthy and unfortunate. But, there is hope for the Pleaser!

THE TAKEAWAY: Placing your self-worth in the hands of others diverts from long-term success and happiness. 

In Part 4 of this series, we will discuss the tools for building healthy self-esteem. Be sure to follow Beard Executive Consulting on LinkedIn to get blog updates.