Home Psychology I thought being nice was the key to people liking me. Then I learned these 10 brutal truths about setting boundaries and standing up for myself.

I thought being nice was the key to people liking me. Then I learned these 10 brutal truths about setting boundaries and standing up for myself.

I thought being nice was the key to people liking me.  Then I learned these 10 brutal truths about setting boundaries and standing up for myself.

I used to be my own worst enemy, and I had to undo a lot of self-defeating habits and beliefs to get where I am today.

At this point, in my mid-30s, I have emerged as a resilient, successful, and fulfilled woman with a great career and a loving partner, but it hasn’t come easy.

In my career and in my personal life, I’ve had major wake-up calls that showed me why my people-pleasing tendencies were undermining everything I wanted to achieve in life.

I know many readers can relate to this, but what can we learn from this?

These are the hard-won truths I share with everyone today. I had to learn these 10 brutal truths about people pleasing. I had to find out the hard way that being too nice sabotaged my dreams.

1) You can’t make people like you – that’s their business

I grew up seeking approval from my well-off academic parents and remember always showing them my homework and waiting for them to congratulate me.

“Smart girl!” were the words I longed to hear.

This desire to seek approval, to be the golden child, continued into my career and later life, and I found it very difficult to accept. I usually had no control over people’s opinions of me.

Of course I could be my best self – I was and I am! But I couldn’t make sure my jokes would be funny to my new coworker, or that my personality would strike a chord with new people I met.

Some people just don’t like you. Some do. It often has as much or more to do with them as it does with you.

2) Many people will treat you badly – ​​if you let them

In my twenties, I was extremely ambitious and was blessed to receive a great education.

I turned that into an excellent job and entered the business world with great ambitions. I was positive, capable and friendly – ​​far from some icy boss lady stereotype.

But after working under a series of male bosses, I noticed that they seemed more interested in my appearance than my abilities. Unfortunately this continued through different jobs.

Condescending behavior, disguised as harmless banter, became a form of bullying. I vividly remember an incident where a senior partner at my firm downplayed my achievements by attributing them to my ‘charming attitude’ rather than recognizing my hard work and dedication.

This blatant disregard for my professional competence really upset me, especially with the other male colleagues who grinned every time they passed me. But instead of confronting the issue, I chose to tolerate the disrespect in a misguided attempt to please those around me.

3) The more you give in to disrespectful pressure, the less respect you have for yourself

The more I tried to put up with the disrespect and stupid jokes, the worse I felt about myself. It wasn’t until I stood up for myself that my self-esteem grew.

Others also began to treat me with more respect, and while I won’t claim that the workplace became a harmonious place, it did get better.

The best part is that I really respected myself and felt better and better about my prospects for the future. I walked tall and believed in myself, regardless of how others perceived or validated me. I didn’t wait to be told I’d done a good job – I knew it.

4) Letting others use you and undervalue you is a big mistake

There came a time at work when my kindness directly hurt my career, and not just my self-esteem and self-respect.

A crucial project, into which I had invested countless hours and enormous effort, was claimed as his own by a male colleague during a high-profile presentation. He referred to me as someone who had ‘assisted’, instead of telling the truth that I had been in charge.

The shock and frustration I felt at that moment forced me to start changing.

I was confronted with this toxic desire inside, where I felt the need to please others and be nice.

I took a stand on the project and confronted the issue head-on, voicing my concerns and demanding the recognition I deserved from my executive supervisor.

The confrontation was awkward, but marked a crucial turning point in my professional journey.

The male colleague who did the honors looked sheepish, and the next time I saw him, he didn’t make lame jokes about me or use me as his “assistant.”

5) Your ‘no’ is respected and appreciated – but only if you mean it

I would no longer tolerate disrespect or compromise my values ​​to please others or get on their “good side.”

The job I worked at for the male coworker who had tried to steal my work soon offered me a chance for a small promotion, but only if I moved.

I had heard rumors about the position and the role was undoubtedly attractive, but I turned it down as I knew moving would disrupt many friendships I had made and have a net negative effect for me.

This decision was met with skepticism and disapproval from some quarters, but I remained steadfast in my commitment to building a life that aligned with my values ​​in order to still have a personal life.

Respect for me slowly grew, and more importantly, my self-esteem grew.

6) Being too nice really hurts your bottom line

During the years I focused on getting people to like me, my salary went downhill.

There’s no other way to say it, and it’s true. I saw other men (and women) who were more outspoken and demanding to get a raise in their salary, but I was afraid to ask.

I didn’t want to seem too demanding or cause awkwardness with my superiors.

“In 2011, researchers at the University of Notre Dame discovered this Agreeable employees earned significantly less than unpleasant employees. Specifically, pleasant men earned 18% less than unpleasant men, while pleasant women earned 5% less than unpleasant women.”

7) If you’re too nice and chill, you’ll become the permanent ‘friend’

In my personal life, people-pleasing also had damaging consequences. I was always the “bad friend” to guys I liked. I was undervalued and my time was not prioritized.

I resented being too demanding and saw it as needy to ask for more from the men I dated. I tried to play it cool and even portray myself as a more relaxed and easy-going person than I was.

I desperately wanted to be liked and approved, and part of me was always observing and analyzing others’ reactions to my personality, values, and words.

This led to me being just a friend so many times that I lost count. Trust me, making friends doesn’t just happen to guys, and it has little to do with appearance…

8) Never justify or explain your dreams to bystanders

I learned early in my life and career not to justify and explain my dreams to those I met along the way.

Getting too detailed about what I was hoping to achieve and why made me get stuck in my head and put off taking action, and it also led to all kinds of advice, judgments and opinions that didn’t really help me in any way.

Others may have great insights and thoughts about your dreams, but they are still just that: your dreams! Keep them like this…

9) You don’t have to choose from binary options in your life

I have learned that success does not have to come at the expense of personal fulfillment, and that a woman’s ambitions are not mutually exclusive from her desire for a family.

By shattering societal norms that seek to limit and compartmentalize women’s dreams, I have forged a path that reflects the harmonious integration of both my professional and personal ambitions.

Is it easy? Certainly not.

But is it possible? It is, and it keeps me on my toes in a way that requires my personal best.

10) There is nothing weak about having a support system and needing help

There’s nothing weak about needing help or… have a support systemand that’s another thing i learned about being less nice:

I have learned not to be ashamed of asking for help and needing things from other people.

I’m just one woman and I need help sometimes, especially with my busy schedule and the many hobbies and groups I belong to.

Having that support system around me and people I can call on for emotional support, camaraderie and doing things together is a big plus for me.

It’s all part of my larger process of learning to stand up for myself, express my needs, and set firm boundaries around what I’m looking for in life.


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