I’m not a competitive person. I hate party games, board games, trivia games, and athletic games. Sports bore me to tears. As a child I was always the last kid picked for the team. This was 50% due to the fact that I lack any kind of athletic skill but also 50% due to the fact that I just didn’t care if the team I played on won or lost. I thought this wouldn’t matter in my adult life. As a grown up I can decide for myself whether or not I want to participate in a game. But I’ve recently come to realize that my lack of competitiveness affects me in a very important area of my life – my career.
I’m a people pleaser. I thrive on collaboration and tranquility. I love being surrounded by people who are happy, motivated, and working together rather than against each other. Unfortunately, the world of business is fiercely competitive. It’s a race to get noticed and get ahead, and in this environment agreeableness is a detriment. So how does a people pleaser survive in an office full of competitors?
First, understand the value you bring to the team. You can’t expect your boss or anyone else to appreciate you if you don’t know what it is you bring to the team. People pleasers are misunderstood. We’re thought of as pushovers who will let anyone walk over us to avoid a conflict. But not necessarily so! As people pleasers we value relationships more than outcomes or tasks. Because we value relationships so highly we are better at building cohesive teams and maintaining that cohesion during stressful times. People pleasers are valuable assets to a team because we are great at not only building but also repairing relationships. We intuitively know how to make angry customers and suppliers feel heard. We thrive on collaborating with our customers and suppliers to solve problems.
This brings me to the next strategy – build your personal brand around collaboration. Today’s workplace is more project-based than it was 10 years ago. Successful project work is not a zero sum game. The key to success in project based work is your social capital in the office. When managers are getting ready to kick off a project they look for someone to lead it who can quickly build a cohesive team that can get things done. Focus on honing your collaboration skills and your name will be at the top of the list when management is looking for a project leader. Stop thinking of yourself as a people pleaser and start thinking of yourself as a relationship builder.
When you stop thinking like a people pleaser and start thinking like a relationship builder you more easily avoid the traps people pleasers fall into. You make better decisions because you make your decisions based on what is best for the relationship between the customer and the company rather than trying to please an individual. Remember, the the biggest key to success in any business is relationships. Every single task, business deal, supplier-customer relationship, all depend on the strength of the relationship between two or more individuals in order to succeed.