You are overworked and somehow the demands just keep on coming. You say nothing. You work overtime, neglecting your family and home life – all because you have the ‘disease to please.’ Sound familiar?

In all the years I have been training people in organisations to apply effective time management skills, this is the one issue that keeps coming up. This need to please. How did this need to make everyone else happy begin? Why is it so hard to say, ‘no’? Most of all, what can you do about it.

Your need to please others usually starts in childhood. You do something to please another and you receive positive reinforcement—now you’re hooked!  Problem is, you get carried away with this and as a result you can lose sight of what it is you authentically desire.

Many of you may be riddled with guilt, anxiety, depression, loss, grief, sadness, and resentment after years of valuing someone else’s comfort over your own. What you are actually saying when you engage in this behaviour is, “I value your comfort over my own. I value your peace of mind over me living a life of authenticity.”


There are many ways in which you can become more assertive and  begin taking charge of your relationships with your colleagues.

  1. TAKE STOCK. The first step to gaining some sense of self-belief is to notice when, where and how you take on too many tasks and where you find it difficult to set healthy boundaries that protect your integrity. Notice how it makes you feel when you say ‘yes,’ to impossible demands. Be gentle with yourself, and understand it will take some time for you to become assertiveness and learn the art of saying ‘no.’
  2. BE AUTHENTIC. You might find yourself putting off a difficult conversation. “It doesn’t matter,” you might say to yourself. Actually it does matter. Take the time to deal with an issue. You can do this in a non-judgemental way and approach a challenging conversation with curiosity, instead of avoiding having that conversation.
  3. BE ASSERTIVE. There’s a clear distinction between being aggressive and being assertive. When you are assertive you will:
  • make your presence felt
  • put yourself forward
  • exert your influence
  • be confident
  • be decisive
  • be self-assured
  • be positive
  • stand up for yourself
  1. STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS. When you learn to stand up for yourself not only will you regain your inner strength, but those around you will respect you and stop making unnecessary demands that sap you of your energy. We all have the right to dignity and freedom of speech – it’s written in the Constitution.
  2. LET GO OF GUILT. Learning to say ‘no’ means you let go of guilt. You may have your inner critic berating you for saying no. You might fear rejection or humiliation. Don’t believe this voice – we all have it. Instead use your inner power to refuse impossible demands. Take a step back from the person pushing you. You might say something like, “I need to think about this, let me get back to you.” It works every time.

Most of all, remember this is your life. Your one precious human life and it’s up to you to cure yourself of the need to please everyone else at the cost of your health and happiness.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.