Today’s blog is the third part of a multi-blog series addressing how conflict was handled in upbringing affects your conflict pattern and business relationships today.


1. You tend to adapt, adjust, and accommodate

In an attempt to make other’s happy, you tend to perform, juggle, coordinate, you name it, you do it, in order to please others. The word “no” is rarely in your vocabulary.

2. You don’t want to impose

If you have a need, you will make sure other’s needs are met first. You have a tendency to sacrifice your wants and needs in order to not burden others.

3. You want to keep the peace

If someone is upset or angry, you do whatever it takes to ease the tension. You might make excuses for other’s behavior or minimize the effect of their behavior all in an effort to keep the peace.

4. You wear a smile, but you’re hurting inside

Other people’s needs come before your own and often times you don’t even know what you feel. You may have an underlying anxiety that unconsciously drives you to please others so you don’t have to feel what’s going on inside of you.

5. You are exhausted

Since you are so busy attending to other’s needs, you are physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. Perhaps near burn out. You have health concerns and your body is screaming “take care of me!”.

Changing a pleasing pattern: Boundaries

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing a business owner about how conflict was handled in her family upbringing and how this influenced her leadership. She candidly shared her story (below) of changing her pattern of pleasing and accommodating others through boundaries.


How was conflict handled in your family upbringing?

I grew up in a family where I saw my parents deal with conflict by yelling first and then they worked things out. When they yelled, I felt uncomfortable and was relieved when the yelling stopped. Way back when I was growing up, parents in general didn’t talk about feelings.

I was very close to my father and always felt encouraged by him to foster my independent thinking. While my mother was supportive, she wasn’t very affectionate. She didn’t give me as much encouragement as I got from my dad. Mom was more task oriented and focused on equipping my brothers to be breadwinners. She didn’t think women should be in in leadership. However if she were alive today, she would be proud I have my own business.

How did your family experiences with conflict influence your leadership?

For many years, when conversations got heated and conflict started, my tendency used to be to try to make everybody happy and people please in an attempt to keep the peace. It took many years of carrying other people’s burdens, making excuses for other’s poor choices, and stress before I realized I am not responsible for the behavior of others. The stress took a toll on my health, sleep, and happiness before I realized I was the one who needed to change. I knew something needed to change but I didn’t know how. I was stuck in this cycle of doing for others.

It took a crisis in my personal life and business for me to realize I needed learn how to set boundaries and hold people accountable for their actions. As I changed, I felt a burden lift from me. Funny thing is, when I changed, my business took off and is more successful now than ever!

How has changing your pleasing pattern and implementing boundaries with your employees helped your business?

I learned many things the hard way, here are my top three …

1. Allow employees to be responsible for their own behavior and problems

When I made my employee’s problems my problem, I was preventing them from learning responsibility. While being supportive and empathic is still part of my leadership, I no longer rescue others from choices they make. Simply said I don’t let their problems to become my problems.

2. Address problems early

By nature, I am a positive person. I used to give people the benefit of the doubt even though their actions told me otherwise. It was a big dose of reality when it finally sunk in how much I was being taken advantage of and how I had allowed it. Now when there is a problem with an employee, I address the situation right away by helping them figure out what they are going to do instead of me fixing it for them. The icing on the cake is holding people accountable to do what they said they will do.

3. Boundaries improve the work culture

When I started to establish and enforce boundaries, my employees had clearer expectations. Initially there was push back and attempts to get me to revert back to old ways. Some people decided this wasn’t the place for them to work anymore and moved on.

Another change was my mindset of when I hire new employees. In addition to selecting candidates for their skill set, I am also more aware of considering if they will be a good fit for our culture. The result has been a better work environment and overall culture. When differences come up, there is not the drama like there used to be. Conflict is addressed, worked through, and we move on.

Changing patterns is possible

Perhaps you resonate with having a pleasing pattern and would like to
figure out how to still be caring and helpful, and make choices that don’t sacrifice you. As a recovering pleaser, I understand the struggle of releasing old patterns and the benefits of boundaries. Change is possible. Let’s talk.

Make the Conscious Choice to replace pleasing behaviors with boundaries, and you will be happier, healthier, and improve your work culture!