Sunday, April 19, 2009

The People Pleaser

I usually bite my tongue and play semi-nice in order to avoid confrontation. I do my best to kill people with kindness (even if it slowly kills me in the process) because it's always better to be kind than mean, right? Better to take the high road than to stoop to lower levels. "What was that? You want to torture me a little more? Why sure!!" Yeah, only this whole "think of others and wear their uncomfortable shoes" can get pretty painful after a while.

So how do you know when it's best to say what you need to say no matter the outcome? Or should you always say how you feel regardless of how the other person might react? I ask knowing full well that the answers will depend on the situation. I know that some people need a reality check so that they might (hopefully) learn from your point of view. And there are also times when some things are better left unsaid.

It's distinguishing when to do what that gets hard. When to realize that one relationship is taking too much energy to maintain. Or when to let go of the past so the relationship has a chance at surviving. When to speak your mind, when to hold it all back, when you're being used. From experience I also know it takes time (and mistakes) until it finally all clicks and you realize, "Oh now it makes sense. This is what I need to do."

Time and time again I've put other people's feelings ahead of my own only to beat myself up about it later. I'll fiercely disagree with someone's opinion to the point of offense and yet I won't say a word. Thoughts might be racing through my head and as much as I'd love to share them with someone, I don't because the other has no interest in hearing them or I don't know how to breach the subject. And so they're left unspoken.

I don't know how to say, "No more." I don't know how to say, "Shut up and listen." I don't know how to just speak. So I write. And though I write knowing the words will never be sent to those I wish would read them, at least they're formed, real, concrete. They can be seen and saved.

At the end of the day I wish I had the courage to yell and live without holding back. What about you?



  1. Now me, Im quite the opposite at times and it gets much worse if I've had something "adult" to drink.

  2. I'm definitely a people pleaser. I just want to avoid conflict as long as I can. Since I was a young kid I never had problems with anyone, I didn't take sides and I always remained friends with everyone.

    Now that I'm a manager I'm facing hard times with my staff. But I'm slowly learning to take the role.

  3. My whole life I was like that. Holding stuff in and bottling it up. In the past year or two I just "snapped" over the other way, and now I probably say too much and it gets me in trouble. Guess I'll find a happy medium some day.

  4. PS there is something so liberating about finally standing up for yourself. Try it-you'll be hooked!

  5. Oh I am sooo with you on this one girl! I tend to smile and smile and get myself all tired after work. I do though have those moments where I get angry and say something to the offender, but it's rare and happens maybe only few times a year...

    But I do believe in kindness and it's better than mean - you're right about that!!! But faking yourself wouldn't be good although I find myself faking sometimes and I hate it.

  6. The best way to say "Shut up and listen!" is "Shut up and listen!"

    But seriously...if the person is so closed up that he/she won't really hear what you are trying to say, it's not worth the energy.

    I know some people who always put others before themselves, and eventually they get tired of being stepped on and used. Eventually we all get to a point where we can't take it any more, and say STOP!

  7. I think I often take the opposite track as well. Maybe finding middle ground is the most difficult task.
    Dropped by from SITS.

  8. If the relationship is with the opposite sex - you have to speak up and speak clearly. :) Just saying... subtle hints and wishing for mind-reading isn't going to work (usually).

    And you can't count on people reading things like notes and emails (at all or "correctly") either.

  9. I feel you.. sometimes you just need to zip your mouth in order to avoid gouging someone's eyes out or cutting their throat or stabbing then in their sleep...

    Unless I pissed you, then that's different, but if you ever need me to punch Heidi in the face, please by all means just let me know.
    : )

  10. I think that sometimes you need to say what you feel, whether people like it or not. Really, life is too short to put so many limitations on yourself.

    Be honest with your feelings, bottling it up does not help, it just makes you feel bad, bc you are mad at the other person then mad at yourself.

    I do understand that sometimes you prefer to stay quiet to avoid confrontation, but you should at least be able to be honest with your friends and family.

    And anonymous, the sentiment is mutual. Dorkys I would fly kick her for you anyday.

  11. I think it's about balance. I can be very direct and frank (often brutal) and I need to better discern when to keep my mouth shut. here's the bottom line: I've never regretting saying what needs to be said; I have however regretted the manner in which I said it.

  12. I think there is a very difficult meter to gauge as to what's right for what situation. I tend to think your approach is more common, however the "loud" approach is more memorable. When I hear very one-sided arguments, I try and approach it with an educational motive. Maybe they've just never met anyone who experienced "it" differently, or seen "it" done another way...etc. I really try and pull personal stories or experiences I know about to share, if I find that they might be helpful. I try and treat the loudmouth like a gentle, ignorant duck whose opinion matters and they can certainly go first....but at the end of the conversation, they WILL hear what I have to say or whatever advice I have to give, or we won't be speaking anymore. At least about THAT subject. Try not to tolerate those who have hours upon hours to share their opinions but have zero minutes for yours. MAKE them hear you. :)

  13. Hi, I was a Ramos before I got married and lived in Jersey my whole life now I'm a peach. I have a family of little peaches:) Now, you know all the answers to all of these things your pondering and your insight is dead on. Thank God for this little page to write on because here you can gain your sanity:) Peace of mind is priceless and if you need to say something,girl say it. I've spent to many years and to many worthless relationships later because I held back, don't do it. Say it, pray for forgiveness if you say something bad and move on! I promise you will feel better tomorrow:)

  14. I so feel your pain Dorkys! I especially do this at work, because if I said what I feel sometimes I would be fired! ;) There have been so many days that I had to go out for lunch just so I could vent in my car.

  15. ladystyx, you know I don't get like that often enough. Darn me and my limits thing. And even then I'm not a confrontational drunk or spill my guts out. I either get sleepy or giggly.

    kitkat, oh I was the same when I was younger too. I'd try to keep the peace at school and at home and when it wouldn't work out I'd get so frustrated because I couldn't fix the situation. After being picked on and teased I grew into a bitingly sarcastic person who always had something smart to say back. But we all know sarcasm is just a defense mechanism to avoid getting hurt first. Good luck with your new role! I'm sure with practice you'll get the hang of it.

    yaya, like I just mentioned above, I also "snapped" after a while (in undergrad), but I still couldn't just up and say how the person's comment made me feel. Instead I'd say something to hurt them back. Not nice. I've reeled back a bit from those days, but I'm also looking for that in-between area.

    maki, I do that too (the smiling and the faking it)! I tend to get very passive-aggressive which I guess is the coward's route: you don't have the guts to just be mean and you don't have the guts to just say how you feel. It's lose-lose and yet I do it anyway.

    chicagolady, I'm so trying that next time I'm stuck in a one-sided convo with no end in sight! This is exactly why I have an aversion to phone calls: I get stuck with people who want to talk foreverrrr.

    Debbie, it really is and welcome :)

    intense guy, wait, you mean guys can't read minds?? Well that explains everything! ;)

    And as the sole guy who comments here, I'm going to put YOU on the spot: if there's a manual to figuring you guys out, where is it??

    anonymous, can we please request an extra room for our vacation? There's just something unappealing about fearing for your eyeballs when you go to sleep at night.

    heidi, I might need your services depending on how my extra room request goes.

    And I know. I have ten thousand limitations and this is just another one. I do get mad at the person and then angry at myself for not telling that person I'm mad. As if they're supposed to just know. And if they act as if everything is fine then I get madder. Sometimes it's been hard telling someone important to me how I feel just because I put so much weight on how they will react.

    curious girl, "I've never regretting saying what needs to be said." I like this. Just like so far I've regretted the things I held back on/never did or said more than the things I did do.

    tooj, that's the rational teacher inside you speaking. And I had to laugh at that lovely nickname you created: "a gentle, ignorant duck." Kudos to you for making sure your thoughts are heard no matter what and trying to see their side as well. I'll try to work on the intolerance for the self-centered, Professor Tooj.

    Ms. Wanda, hey maybe we're related! And yes, this thing helps. I used to journal it all out and probably should resort to that more often. Sometimes I wonder if things would be better kept there than here.

    joy, oh I know that one. Some days this smile takes a little more effort to maintain though I'm pretty sure people can see right through it.

  16. There is a manual... its a PDF file - but hey... no one ever reads a steenkin' manual...

    Its probably more fun to stumble through the mistakes... even if there are lots of potholes on the way.

  17. I'm reading a book now titled, 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue...need I say more? I held my tongue for years so maybe I'm making up for it. I've learned it's a way to say everything without smothering your own feelings and it feels GOOD! Freedom of speech with love and tact.

  18. This is a great post.

    You certainly have a voice in your writing and I always enjoy what you have to say.

    I used to censor myself all the time and I don't know when it changed, but one day I just stopped. I spoke my thoughts. I'm not saying that I have this perfected. I still struggle with it sometimes. But I can't be that person without opinions because it's a big part of who I am. Anyway...I'm not sure what I'm saying here, but I bet people want to hear from you and more than that you've got stuff to say and it's good stuff. Just from being here on your site I know you have a voice that is worth listening to.


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