Overcoming the Temptation to Please

Overcoming the Temptation to Please Others

You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.
Dale Carnegie

We desire that people around us like us; we yearn for their respect and affection. We depend on the choices these people make: be it in a job interview with a corporate recruiter, a performance review with a boss or a project delegation meeting with a team member. Clearly, the more likeable we are, the more people are ‘on our side,’ and therefore, the more likely they will make decisions in our favor.

Doing what others want to gain their approval regardless of the merit of their wants is, therefore, a temptation. Companies are tempted to pursue short-term profit-enhancing strategies to satisfy stock market expectations. Politicians are tempted to devise welfare schemes to help garner votes in an upcoming election. A professional is tempted to please the boss by agreeing to everything the boss asks.

We need to be tough-minded—we need to base our decisions and actions on facts, not personal inclinations. It takes courage and discipline to resist the lure of pleasing others. Making an objective decision that is unfavorable for a requester may disappoint him/her; however, a candid explanation of the rationale behind the choice often appeases the requestor. Being tough-minded does not mean being inflexible or insensitive. Being tough-minded involves doing what is just and right after careful consideration of procedures and people.

I encourage you to reflect on your actions and decisions by asking yourselves if you make these choices to please other people or if you make these choices based on the virtue of facts. Improving your likability should be a wish and not a goal.

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