I’ve been a creative director in my own company for over 10 years. I’ve made some mistakes. Namely the “people-pleasing” mistake. A wise man once said to me, “You are not there to please them you are there to serve them. Serve their needs. If you aren’t serving them then you aren’t helping them.”

Originally published on Feminine Collective

Representing one’s own needs comes naturally to some people and not to others. Representing my needs has never come naturally to me. In my journey to self-discovery and fulfillment, I have been exploring, without judgment, my natural abilities. In the process, I’ve discovered that I am a people pleaser … a junkie for external praise, if you will. My focus, in my work and my personal life, is to please everyone.

Now, in my 40s, I’ve realized that having a people pleasing mentality has contributed to my feeling of discontent in my work and at home. From what I have observed, when I consistently please people, at one point I inevitably get pissed off that I have given too much of myself and more often than not, I feel underappreciated. I have a hard time advocating for myself without being a total bitch, the plight of many women.

How do you represent your needs without being a bitch?

It’s hard for me, I can tell you that. At work, I start thinking, before a meeting, about how I’m going to advocate for my needs and the needs of my company, my team. I race through a mental process that goes something like this: I anticipate a fight, predict the outcome, and then sell myself short. From the beginning of the conversation, in the hopes of avoiding the conflict, I acquiesce. In the end, I have agreed to do something I don’t really want to do, and inevitably I become resentful.  It’s fine at the onset; I’m usually accommodating, even-tempered, helpful and happy, but eventually I reach a breaking point as a people pleaser.

I’ve been a creative director of my own company for over 10 years. I’ve watched the process above unfold many times. It’s not my client’s fault. It’s mine. It’s my fault for approaching work with a people pleasing mentality. A wise man once said to me, “you are not there to please them you are there to serve them. Serve their needs. If you aren’t serving them then you aren’t helping them.” Client’s don’t need people pleasers they need someone who serves their needs. This is the same in teams. Serve your team, rather than please them. And, it’s the same for spouses, children, and friends.

For everyone, defining one’s needs and advocating for those needs is crucial to fulfillment and success in all aspects of life, both professional and personal.

4 Strategies I use in everyday life to feel fulfilled and avoid turning into a bitch

  1. Approach a problem with the mantra “I am not fighting with them, I am representing my needs.”
  2. Focus on serving rather than pleasing; it will be better for all in the long run.
  3. Communicate what you need from someone, without thinking of the person’s incapabilities, perhaps they will surprise you.
  4. Say what you need, simply, plainly, effectively, without anticipating or even trying to imagine what the other person is thinking.

Remember, how can your needs be met if you don’t advocate for them? Imagine the day when your needs are not only met, but fulfilled beyond your wildest dreams and move in that direction.

I’d love to hear your comments on how you have advocated for your needs lately.

As a designer, representing my needs has always been a challenge.