A note on being friends with a people-pleaser
It's been a few weeks since I sent out a newsletter. I've been recovering and catching up on life. I'm starting to feel like life is back to normal.
I've been thinking about what it is like to be friends with a people-pleaser. And since most people are people-pleasers to some degree, this content will speak to all of us.
I noticed (again) this week how quick I am to say 'yes' to invitations or requests. My default is 'yes.' I am a spontaneous, fun-loving people-pleaser. Throw an invitation that appeals to me my way, and I almost immediately reply with a 'thumbs up' emoji.
It can frustrate people when I say I've reconsidered after a few days of thinking about the situation, and I don't think it will work. I have gotten better at giving myself a bit of time now to say, 'it sounds good but give me a bit of time to think it through before I make a final decision.' I still slip up from time to time.
My husband defaults to 'no.' But he often will rethink his decision and then come to a 'yes.' People are generally happy with him when he changes his mind and agrees to something he previously had turned down.
We have changed our minds and gone back on our initial response in both cases. But the person who says YES and then changes to a NO is often seen as inconsistent or unreliable. Hmm…something to think about there!
But back to helping people who may default to yes and frustrate you. One of my close friends always says to me, "I'm going to ask you something, and I want you to think about it before saying yes. Let me know in a couple of days." We joke about my default to please people and my love of spontaneous adventure. "I'm in!" might be a suitable epitaph for me. (And actually, kind of funny now that I think of it.)
I have another friend who said to me this week," I know you are planning to visit this Spring, but we can reschedule if things have changed (post-concussion conversation)." That generosity feels like love to me. (I'm still planning to go.)
Very few decisions demand an immediate response. When possible, give people a day or two to think through the commitment you are asking them to make before deciding. And when possible, if you know a friend or family member who has gone through an unforeseen situation that impacts their health, finances, schedule or anything else, remind them that you're willing to adjust your plans. People pleasers will often honour their commitments because they don't want to disappoint you.
Holding people to commitments can be helpful. Accountability can be a good thing. It can also result in pressure or resentment when someone feels obligated to follow through when overwhelmed. We hear a lot about eroding trust based on broken promises. It's true. When someone repeatedly lets us down, it impacts our friends, but sometimes life happens.
Relationships involve giving and taking and accepting people as they are. Sometimes you need to let your people-pleasing friend off the hook. She will love you for it.