Being a pleaser isn’t really that pleasing

Very early in life (as in kindergarten), I became a “pleaser.” I couldn’t do enough for other kids, family, friends, colleagues and just about anyone who crossed my path. So, what’s wrong with being nice? Plenty, especially when I finally came to resent all I was putting out for others while they weren’t giving me what I felt I deserved in return. The harder I tried to please and put my own needs aside, the less I received in return. As a result, I became disillusioned and unhappy, to say the least.

It got to the point that I felt I was actually annoying people because I agreed with them, went out of my way to accommodate them and offered little resistance when criticized or called to defend my own opinions, skills or accomplishments. To be without opinions or a voice doesn’t work in personal and business relationships, as I finally found out.

After several personal disappointments, I finally began to claim my voice and stand up for myself by becoming more confident and assertive. I learned the difference between being aggressive (seeing things in black or white and pushing your views on others) and being assertive (confidently stating your case and being prepared to defend it in a collaborative and respectful manner).

I summarize my most important life lesson this way: When you are sitting on a plane before takeoff, there is a recorded announcement that comes on and goes something like this:

“Should there be a sudden drop in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will automatically be deployed from the compartment directly above you. Please ensure that your mask is firmly in place before attempting to assist another passenger.”

I had spent too much of my life trying to help people before making sure my oxygen mask was properly in place. What good are you in a crisis situation at 40,000 feet if your mask is askew and you can’t breathe properly and are feeling dizzy and depleted? This metaphor always reminds me of the value of looking after myself first and fully respecting what I offer others before trying to please them. And it’s really working, for me and for those who are important to me.

This blog post was written by Evan Thompson. Catch Evan at momondays Toronto, ON on 11/24/2014! Get your advance tickets here: Buy Tickets

dsc_9335-1 Evan Thompson loves stepping onto the momondays stage, whether in Toronto, Barrie or Mississauga. By day, he brings years of spoken and written communications experience to clients through seminars and individual coaching to help them navigate through relationship building and personal branding challenges.
Evan enjoys sharing insights needed to help clients create meaningful and profitable business relationships with clients and prospects and to shine in a professional and distinctive way.
A trained journalist, he has worked in Canada and the UK and has spoken before audiences in Canada and the US. He posts regularly on Huffington Post and writes on career issues for The Globe and Mail.
Evan was formerly a radio DJ and a drummer in a band that covered The Jimi Hendrix Experience and other musical icons.
He loves chilling with family, dog walking, golf and boxercise. You can check out his personal branding firm, Evan Thompson and Associates at For more about Evan, visit

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