When I was young I was a people pleaser and I didn’t even realize it.
Such a shame.
Sure I wanted to be liked, who doesn’t right? But I have never been an ass kisser, so the thought of being a people pleaser never crossed my mind.
It wasn’t until someone else pointed it out to me, that I realized it. And I’m glad they did.
I don’t remember the exact scenario that brought it up. But I remember being a sophomore in high school and the girl I was seeing at the time told me I was a people pleaser. I laughed and said “no I’m not!” but the second those words slipped out of her mouth I knew in my gut that she was right.
“It’s not really a bad thing” she said, (it was) “but you definitely are.”
I learned an important lesson that day. What she was doing there was simply being honest with me and NOT being a people pleaser. She knew I wouldn’t necessarily like to hear that, but she also knew that I valued an honest opinion.
What I learned was that someone can say something slightly offensive to you and you can actually feel grateful for it.
This changed my whole perspective on what it means to be nice. Sometimes being nice isn’t really the nicest thing you can do for someone. In fact, a lot of times being nice is really doing yourself more of a favor than the other person. Because you don’t suffer any backlash from being nice.
Fast forward a decade and no one would ever accuse me of being a people pleaser.
Among my friends and family I am well known for being straightforward and brutally honest.
My words have power now.
No one asks me a question that they aren’t prepared to hear the truthful answer to, good or bad.
No one expects me to laugh at a joke, unless it is actually funny.
This didn’t happen overnight though. It was a gradual transition. In fact, it was the positive feedback along the way that encouraged me to get to the point that I’m at.
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been perfect. It’s ruined relationships and friendships several times. But in retrospect, those people were narcissists and not great people to have in my life anyways.
Aside from the narcissists and overly sensitive, most people have responded positively.
In fact, some have actually gone out of their way to tell me how much they appreciate my honesty. Which has led me to believe that among the type of people I most enjoy, being honest makes me more likable than being nice.
Not convinced yet? Keep reading.
Why Do We Want Everyone to Like Us?
Some reasons will vary from person to person, but in general we want to be liked because:
- It makes us feel good. Our ego loves it.
- We think it’s the right thing to do. It’s completely normal to want people to like you.
- We think there is less hassle and stress involved in being liked. (Less arguing, gossip and other drama)
The question is, do you want people to really like you or to just think they like you?
Because if you are constantly telling white lies, how do you know that they really like you? It’s easy to like someone who never has anything to say that is remotely critical. (You’ll learn to find this to be very annoying actually)
Being a people pleaser is more than just telling white lies and fake compliments. It’s also pretending to be something you’re not, because you know they will like that.
You and I both know that it’s much more fulfilling to be around people who like us just the way we are. So why not make it easier to be in that situation more often?
How to Surround Yourself With People Who Genuinely Like You
Have an attitude of take it or leave it.
By being yourself and being completely honest you make it incredibly easy for people to decide if they like you or not.
They don’t have to analyze your words and body language. They don’t need to spend a lot of time with you to get an idea of what you’re all about.
They know right away if they like you or dislike you. And you know how they feel too, by their reaction.
No more wasted time.
I would much rather know that people dislike me than to go on wondering about it. The way I see it is that if you have to put an act on, it won’t last forever. At least, I know I can’t keep an act going for long.
So rather than delaying the inevitable, just get it over with from the start.
The good news is that the people who do like you – like you a lot! And there’s no question about it in your mind. That’s a good feeling.
Quality over quantity is always best with interpersonal relationships.
The Power of Brutal Honesty
Honesty makes life so much better.
It’s only hard at first, because you’re so comfortable with telling little fibs and putting on an act. It’s not until after you become brutally honest that you realize what a pain in the ass it is to not be honest.
For some reason we think that being honest is more of a hassle. We have this weird idea that if everyone likes us that there will be less stress in our lives.
Let me tell you firsthand, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I give you my word. The more and more I’ve become brutally honest, the better my life has been. Seriously.
The more you lie, the more you put on an act, the more stressful life is. You can’t ever let your guard down. You’re constantly playing this imaginary game that never ends and isn’t even fun. You get the temporary joy of smiles and pats on the back, but when you are alone you are miserable. It’s not worth it.
Being honest with your words and actions makes life so much easier!
People don’t have to speculate and dig for answers.
What happens when you ask someone for critical feedback? 99% of the time they tell you what they think you want to hear. And what do you do? You analyze their response with a fine-tooth comb.
“You hesitated! Why’d you hesitate?” “Why’d you smile when you said that?” “Are you sure?”
I hate that game.
We all secretly want the truth, even when it hurts. That’s why we asked!
You’re only doing them a disservice when you lie.
But I don’t want to hurt their feelings….
Bullshit. You don’t want them to be mad at you. You don’t want to be the person who hurts their feelings.
There’s a difference between being honest and being malicious. You’re not trying to be mean.
How to Be Brutally Honest
First off, I don’t go out of my way to offer up opinions. I usually keep them to myself.
But when someone asks me something about myself or my opinion on something, I give them the truth despite how ugly it might be.
This really doesn’t cause much of a problem for me. Mainly because I’m not a hateful or malicious person. I don’t have hateful thoughts and opinions to begin with.
However, we live in a very politically correct society and people tend to get butt-hurt easily. So of course being candid, even if it’s about yourself, will rub some people the wrong way.
There are times when people ask a question and I think to myself “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that…” because I know they won’t like the response. But I feel obligated to give the truth, because that’s what I would want.
You can be honest without being malicious though. The next time someone asks you for critical feedback, remember these 2 rules:
- Be respectful.
- Use the sandwich technique.
Being respectful should be obvious. Remember, you aren’t being honest with them to put them down. That just makes you a hater. You are being honest with them so they can better themselves. Address the thing they asked about and that’s it. Don’t use this as an opportunity to tell them everything you think they’re doing wrong. (I admit, I have been guilty of this in the past)
The sandwich technique is everywhere. DJ’s use it to trick you into liking new songs by playing the new song in between 2 very popular songs. Sales people use it to convince you to buy their product by mentioning a negative point between 2 great benefits. It’s used so commonly because it works. To do this, you respond with a compliment, followed by the critique and then finished with another compliment. Now these should be genuine compliments. If there aren’t any compliments that you can honestly give, just stick with rule #1.
We Mistake Weakness for Niceness
You know the old phrase, “don’t mistake kindness for weakness.”
Many times, it’s really the other way around.
Being scared of what others think of you doesn’t make you nice, it makes you weak.
Telling fibs and putting on an act doesn’t make you nice, it makes you fake.
I understand that there is a time and a place for telling a lie. There are exceptions for everything. But they are exceptions and not the standard.
Life is tough. Only the strong-minded will thrive.
I don’t want to be weak and I don’t want to surround myself with weak people.
What’s the point of having friends if they aren’t going to help you grow and move forward in life?
One thing I’ve experienced through being honest with people is a more meaningful connection with those in my life.
My friends and loved ones know without question that when I say something nice to them, I genuinely mean it.
I wasn’t fully aware of this until I was in college. I was hanging out with a few friends and one of them, his name is Mike, said something funny. We all laughed. Then Mike said something that surprised me – “You know what I like about KW? Whenever I tell a joke around him, I know if it’s actually funny or not. ‘Cause when it isn’t funny, he doesn’t even try to fake a laugh.”
I had already been told by girls I dated that my honesty was appreciated, but no one had expressed it like this before.
“Yeah, I just-” I started to say before Mike cut me off “I appreciate that. No one else does that. I can ask you anything and know that I’m getting the real answer.”
That was pretty much the green light for me. I had tried to explain my theory to people who didn’t get it before. But after hearing someone say that on their own, I was convinced that honesty was the way to go.
I haven’t looked back since. And you know what? It’s made me a lot stronger along the way.
Despite what you think, no one likes a people pleaser. They might think they do, but they don’t know for sure that they do.
I’ve talked a lot about habits in early 2015. This is a habit that you can start doing TODAY that will make a dramatic change in your life. You’ll have more meaningful connections with people, less hassle/stress and you can feel comfortable in your own skin.
There’s something empowering about owning your life. Being yourself and being honest.
You already know that though. We all wish we could be that way.
So what’s stopping you?
Until Next Time,
P.S. If you’re surrounded by too many yes-men and want some honest feedback or advice, shoot me an email. I will personally respond and do my best to help.
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