Everyone is guilty of having been a people pleaser at some point in their lives. We have all found ourselves going the extra mile, making unnecessary sacrifices, or even compromising on our own boundaries in effort to win over a person that we admire.

Having been a chronic people pleaser for the majority of my life, it became blindingly obvious how detrimental this seemingly subconscious behavior was to my business and my role as a leader. When I made my first few key hires in the early days of running my startup, I focused far too heavily on being friendly and likable in order to earn their approval given their expertise in an industry I was new to.

Over time, I realized that in wanting to be liked, I sacrificed my voice and power as the leader of my company. Decisions were being made that I didn’t fully agree with and my opinions became just another voice at the table.

It’s very easy to find ourselves falling off the glass ledge when we dedicate too much of our time and energy towards pleasing people rather than learning how to navigate our social interactions while remaining our most authentic selves. If you’ve found that you’re finally ready for a change, here are some of the simple yet effective strategies I share in my book, The Glass Ledge, that helped me leverage my likeability without compromising my relationships.

Tone Down the People Pleasing

Everyone is guilty of having been people pleasers at some point in their lives whether it be trying to please family, friends, or even coworkers. Although there are obvious benefits to being likable, chronic people pleasing has numerous consequences that will leave you anywhere from feeling burnt out to being exploited and manipulated by others. Some of the best ways you can tone down the people pleasing is by adhering to the following:

1. Buy Yourself Some Time – No matter the scale or significance, when it comes to making important decisions, we often find ourselves rushing to meet self-imposed deadlines we’ve created in our minds in order to please the people on the waiting end. Regardless of the labels people might place on you for being slow, take the time you deem necessary in order to feel comfortable with your decisions. Rather than speeding up a sensitive process or rushing to make a decision you aren’t ready to make simply to satisfy the needs of others, give yourself enough time to make the decisions you can confidently stand by.

2. Take the Path of Least Resistance – It’s not everyday that I advocate to take the “easy” way out, but truthfully, it is far more important to do what is easy for ourselves even if it means making the situation less pleasant for the other party. This can look like:

– Avoiding unnecessary confrontation by delivering a simple “no” via text or email as opposed to turning a person down in person.

– Delaying a difficult conversation (within reason) until you feel fully prepared to stand your ground on matters to be discussed.

3. Set Healthy Boundaries

One of the most overlooked aspects of people pleasing, is failing to set and enforce healthy boundaries. When we fail to establish healthy boundaries, we unconsciously fuel doormat-driven likeability rather than driving respect. Reclaiming our power and leveraging likeability means establishing a set of both non-negotiable boundaries that are to be upheld and reinforced without exception. Some simple ways you can begin setting better boundaries are by:

– Setting a cut-off time for answering work-related communications.

– Waiting to respond to work related matters when you return to work rather than during your time off.

– Determining what events you will no longer postpone or miss altogether in order to fulfill extra tasks at work.

– Determining what behaviors/language you won’t be brushing under the rug.

It’s important to remember that boundaries are successful when you stand by them. However, it is perfectly normal and healthy to establish fluid boundaries that you’re comfortable being flexible with given the circumstance.

4. Tap in to Your Feminine Energy

There is power in both feminine and masculine energy as we have traditionally known them to be. No matter how you identify, there is a good chance that you have experienced an innate nurturing feminine energy. Not everyone may feel this way and even fewer may feel comfortable embracing that energy. However, if you find yourself comfortable with tapping into your feminine energy, it can prove to be far more beneficial in leveraging likeability than you may have been led to believe.

Some simple ways to tap into your femininity can be achieved by considering the following:

– How can you approach people/situations with softness and understanding rather than dominance or overly-assertiveness?

– How can you genuinely connect with that person on an emotional level?

– In what ways can you apply a growth/nurturing perspective or approach to a situation or meeting?

Utilizing your feminine energy is a great way to leverage your likeability as it can allow you to appear as the softer and safer go-to person. Although this can be beneficial, it’s important to remember that tapping into your femininity should never be used as a manipulation tactic against others, but rather as a tool to improve your likeability without needing people to please.

While we may never permanently put an end to our people pleasing tendencies, learning to leverage your likeability can aid you in effectively navigating your relationships while improving your self-esteem.

For more tips and advice on likability, be sure to get your copy of “The Glass Ledge: How to Break Through Self-Sabotage, Embrace Your Power, and Create Your Success”


  • Iman Oubou

    Author of The Glass Ledge, Founder and CEO

    SWAAY Media

    Iman Oubou is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, published scientist and former beauty queen (Miss New York US 2015 and 2nd Runner Up at the 2015 Miss United States pageant) on a mission to democratize publishing using the power of A.I. Through her diverse experience in business, pageantry and STEM, Iman noticed gender disparities in the workforce and an omnipresent bias across printed and digital media representation of women which inspired her to initially launch SWAAY in 2017 as a mediatech platform providing content creation support and editorial tools to underrepresented voices and thought leaders. Over the years, SWAAY has steadily evolved into launching the first A.I. powered end-to-end writing tool and publishing solution that supports creators through the entirety of the content creation flow. Her podcast, Women Who SWAAY, which was syndicated by media conglomerate, Westwood One, was number 2 on iTunes, and was ranked in the top 5 best podcasts for women entrepreneurs by Inc. Magazine. Iman has also recently written and published her first book, The Glass Ledge: How to breakthrough self-sabotage, embrace your power, and create your success (available at all retailers including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc...).