You smile and nod as your boss asks you to do another favour that has nothing to do with your role. You walk out of her office and immediately feel your stomach start to sink. Your heart begins to race and you think to yourself, I HATE doing these types of tasks, they’re not in my job description, I’m not a personal assistant, I’m always working hard to further my knowledge – UGH!

You start to ask yourself questions like why me? Why does she only ask me and not anyone else in the office?

You begin to feel resentful, taken advantage of, stuck and a little annoyed with yourself for being in this situation again.

You promise yourself that the next time a request like this comes up, you’re going to speak up for yourself and say no.

But here’s the thing…you hate letting people down, you don’t want to inconvenience the person you work for or be seen as “difficult” or “ungrateful,” you get nervous just thinking about this awkward encounter with your superior and you start to realize why you keep agreeing to these types of requests – even though it makes you feel like crap, it also feels safe and comfortable to be a reliable, “yes” person others can count on.

Chances are, you’ve been a people pleaser most of your life, in more areas than just the workplace.

You take great pride in being of service and helping others (you always have) but you’re ready to feel like you’re making a real impact – you want to feel good about the ways you’re contributing and you want people to respect you and see your true value.

Here’s 5 ways to shift your mindset and behavior as a people-pleaser in order to make a more meaningful impact and feel good while you’re doing it:

  1. Start saying “no” to small requests. I realize how daunting it can feel to go from being a “yes” person to someone who says “no.” Start practicing this in other parts of your life (ex: your friends invite you on a group call you don’t feel like attending? Instead of saying yes out of obligation or guilt, reply with a simple “I’m not able to make it, please enjoy without me.”)
  2. Tell them how you feel. You have the courage within you to speak to your boss about what’s been bothering you and chances are, your boss has no idea how these requests make you feel, especially because you’ve said “yes” for months or even years! Oftentimes these discussions feel so much scarier in our heads – we assume others know how we feel and the resentment towards the other person becomes toxic. If you’re willing to have this conversation with your superior, you’ll be amazed at what can change with your relationship and what may become available as a result! When I’m scared to speak up, I reread one of my favorite quotes: “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” – Tim Ferriss
  3. Hit pause. When you feel the impulse to say “yes” to something that makes you feel small, undervalued, or taken advantage of, hit pause on your response. Instead of immediately replying “yes” to that email request or instantly agreeing when you’re in person – take space and give yourself time to respond. You can use phrases like “let me get back to you on that” or “I’m going to take the night to think on it” – this will allow you to be less reactive and if something is truly a “no” or requires further discussion, it buys you time to create a thoughtful response.
  4. Pitch yourself. Get clear on what you enjoy doing at work or other ways you’d like to add value with your strengths and express that to your superior. If there are specific areas you’d like to grow and explore, be sure to speak up so they know you’re interested. This goes back to tip#2 – don’t assume your boss knows what you want or how you feel!
  5. Value your own time. People-pleasers often value other people’s time more than their own which communicates low confidence. Where can you prioritize your own time more in your life? Can you commit to not answering emails first thing when you wake up? Can you start leaving work on time vs. always staying late or working on the weekends? Start making promises to yourself and do your best to keep them, your self-confidence will build as a result.

Practice these tips & habits and make them part of your everyday life. You’re highly capable of shifting out of your people-pleasing tendencies to create a better and more confident life for yourself at work + beyond.

What tip did you find most helpful? Let me know in the comments and for more advice like this, tune into The Mini Monday series on my podcast or connect with me here!


  • Kristy Vail

    Life Coach + Interior Designer, D.I.D

    Kristy Vail Studio Co.

    Kristy specializes in helping highly sensitive people and introverts move into alignment in their personal lives and home environments through thoughtful consulting and mindset coaching. She is also the Podcast Host of Connected with Kristy Vail, which has been featured multiple times on the iTunes New & Noteworthy List. Learn more about her work here + listen to the podcast through this link here.