Are you people-pleasing at work and ending up frustrated that you still have mountains of tasks, whilst others are swanning off for an early lunch?

Do you end up taking on more and more responsibility but the rewards are lacking?

Does saying ‘No’ to your manager or co-worker fill you with dread or guilt?

If you’ve been feeling burnt-out, overtired and as though you’re living on a hamster wheel that doesn’t stop, it could be that you’ve been people-pleasing to keep things smooth sailing at work. Some people take more and more on because they want to be seen as hard-working, agreeable and easy to work with. But where does this leave you?


I understand that dealing with people-pleasing at work can be challenging. In this article, we’ll explore this topic in a way that is relatable and supportive. We’ll discuss the consequences of people-pleasing, offer nine practical tips to help you address it, and shed light on how therapy can help you establish healthier boundaries and gain a better understanding of your people-pleasing behaviours. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and there are resources available to help you navigate through it.

Where does people-pleasing at work leave you?

These are just some of the ways in which people-pleasing at work can show up and affect you. Aside from the emotional aspects, it leaves you vulnerable to others taking advantage, taking credit for your work and generally feeling as though you are overlooked. Not only this, but it may end up with a growing resentment for the people around you. Or leave you feeling disrespected. It doesn’t necessarily indicate that your kind nature is being taken advantage of intentionally, some people simply don’t realise or think about what they are asking!

What can you do to stop people-pleasing at work?

You might be thinking about all of this and now wondering: so how do I stop people-pleasing? And how do I do this at work in a professional way?!

You may be a little bit nervous about changing the way that you behave or interact with people at work, but that’s okay. You don’t have to completely change who you are, but it could help to look at the areas that cause you the most discomfort or upset. What is it about them that is problematic for you?

Do you have a tendency to agree to things you don’t actually want to to?

Is it your time that you are giving up?

Are you taking on work that isn’t yours?

How do I re-enforce my boundaries?

Is there a particular member of staff that is maybe intimidating or uncomfortable for you to disagree with? Do they remind you of someone else that you had a similar pattern of behaviour with?

Once you have identified where the problems start – you can develop better boundaries or change your behaviours and thoughts around this. (This is also where counselling can help to support exploring and developing new coping mechanisms, click here to book)

Once you’ve identified the areas where you end up people-pleasing at work, and which ones you want to start working on, here are 9 things you can try immediately:

  1. Figure out what really matters to you: Get clear on your priorities and make sure your actions line up with them. That way, you can set boundaries around your time and energy.
  2. Speak up for yourself: Learn to express your thoughts, concerns, and limits with confidence and respect. Practice saying “no” when you need to and let others know where your boundaries are. That could be: I need to leave on time, or be given notice before deadlines.
  3. Keep it real with expectations: Be honest about what you can handle! Don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t take on too much and make sure your workload is manageable without wrecking your well-being.
  4. Get good at delegating: Don’t be afraid to pass on tasks or ask for help. Sharing the workload stops you from drowning in it and helps balance out your responsibilities. Something to reflect on – have others been trying to do this and accidentally giving you too much because you always say yes? It’s okay to say no too!
  5. Take care of yourself, seriously: Make self-care a priority: take breaks, do things you love, and make time to recharge. Looking after yourself is key to maintaining healthy boundaries.
  6. Say “no” without feeling guilty: Remember, it’s okay to turn down requests that don’t work for you. Be confident and guilt-free when setting boundaries and protecting your time. A lovely phrase you can use: “My plate is as full as I’d like it to be right now.”
  7. Lay down the law on interruptions: Set some ground rules for interruptions during focused work time. Let your coworkers know when you need uninterrupted blocks and ask them to respect your boundaries.
  8. Manage your tech boundaries: Set specific times to check emails and messages so work doesn’t take over your personal life. Switch off notifications outside of work hours to have a healthier work-life balance.
  9. Seek support and guidance: If you’re struggling to reinforce your boundaries, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mentor, coach, or therapist. They can give you valuable advice and help you come up with effective strategies.

How can counselling help?

Counselling is an incredible tool that can effectively put an end to people-pleasing tendencies at work. When you reach out for professional help, you open yourself up to a world of positive transformation and growth. Working in a person-centred way, we will create a safe space to explore the roots of your people-pleasing behaviours. Growing in self-discovery, you’ll discover things that drive you, allowing you to develop healthier boundaries and boost your self-esteem. Armed with newfound self-awareness and assertiveness, you will gain greater confidence, able to be your true self – what a relief! It can be really empowering. Counselling can truly be a life-changing experience that sets you on the path to personal and professional fulfilment.

What next?

Keep in mind, that starting to establish and uphold boundaries is a continuous process. It’s important to remain self-aware and consistently strive to improve. Gradually implement boundaries and explore new strategies! You’ll find it easier to maintain appropriate work boundaries, leading to a greater sense of well-being.

Keep looking for ways in which people-pleasing could be affecting you, and how you can make changes for the better.

If you need support to make positive changes in your life, reach out to work with me.

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