pleaser fundraiser

Co-dependency is such an ugly term. Yet, a pleaser is often one-half of a co-dependent team. The one who accommodates, and the one who does their best to smooth things over, placate, please, and keep the peace. If you are a pleaser fundraiser at work, you may have internalized some key messages:

  1. Other people’s feelings are my responsibility
  2. Other people’s feelings are my fault.
  3. If other people are upset, I am not safe, therefore,
  4. I have to try to control other people’s feelings, so I can be safe, and liked.
  5. It’s not safe for me to express my wants and needs, because that could make people feel bad. So I will just hint at them, and expect people to read my body language/subtle cues.

I have some pleasers in my family. It is something I was taught from a young age, but with the help of lots of books, friends, therapy, and deep family conversations, I’ve managed to stop this tendency, the majority of the time.

Being a pleaser can make you a bad boss, keep you in bad relationships, and generally just stop you getting what you want, most of the time, because you simply don’t ask for it.

Still, it’s hard to get out from under your ingrained, knee-jerk responses to scary stimuli.

How can you stop believing these 5 things? Let’s look at these one by one.

1. Other people’s feelings are my responsibility
Are they though? Are other people’s feelings REALLY your responsibility? WHY are they your responsibility? You can’t control how other people feel. All you can control is what you ask for, how you respond to others, and naming your own needs and wants.

2. Other people’s feelings are my fault!
That is so arrogant of you! Are you saying you’re just SO POWERFUL that a simple sentence can tear someone down to nothing? Honestly, other people’s feelings are NOT your fault. If someone is frowning, it might not have anything to do with you. If you tell someone they need to get that report done and they don’t like that, that’s not your fault either. You expressed a need, and their feelings about it are their business.

3. If other people are upset, I am not safe.
This is something you might have learned in childhood. Maybe there was a person who made you feel scared when they got upset. Maybe it really was not safe when they got upset. But now you are an adult, and you don’t have to be afraid of people being upset anymore. Now you can say, “Here’s what I want, here’s what I need, and I am prepared to listen to what you want as well. We can compromise when both of our needs have been heard.”

4. I have to try to control other people’s feelings so I can be safe and liked.
Again, this comes from childhood. If a person is upset with you, they might leave, or you might get fired, and that is scary. So you want to control their feelings as much as you can. So you don’t have to be afraid of losing your job, being homeless, or being looked over for a promotion or a raise. What if you are deserving of love, no matter what? What if people will always like you, EVEN IF in the moment they don’t like what you said?

5. It’s not safe for me to express my wants and needs, because that could make people feel bad. So I will just hint at them, and expect people to read my body language/subtle cues.
Oh this one is so common in my family! I have become an EXPERT at reading certain people’s language and body cues. Just the stress on certain words tells you what they want you to do. Just naming that they are going to do something is an invitation for you to step in and help them. But you can stop this behavior, and say, “I would like you to do this for me” or “This needs to happen in the next week. What’s on your plate?” or even, the scary: “This was not done last week, and now we need to talk about consequences.”

I know it’s scary to actually name and claim your wants and needs. But once you do, you can leave pleasing behind, and be a better boss, a better co-worker, and even a better partner.

Here are 3 things you can do today to stop being a pleaser fundraiser.

  1. When you need something, instead of hinting, boldly state it. Did you state it clearly, with a deadline?
  2. What do you think a direct report could do better? Have you told them clearly what you feel the best metrics for their job are? Can you have a conversation with them about the top priorities for the next 3 months, the deadlines they need to meet, and the metrics you expect?
  3. Check in with yourself when someone asks you for something. Instead of saying yes, instantly, can you say instead, “Let me think about that and get back to you”? Start making it a habit to put off an answer, and make sure that your yes is a TRUE yes. You will earn the trust and respect of the people around you that much more, for being your honest self.

Try it! And let me know how it goes!

Check out our State of the Nonprofit Workplace 2019 Infographic to see how the average nonprofit employee feels right now about the workplace culture, benefits, perks and other qualities they’re currently experiencing.

Mazarine Treyz
Mazarine Treyz is a nationally-recognized strategist for fundraising planning and communications. She is the CEO of Wild Woman Fundraising and the Author of The Wild Woman's Guide to Fundraising, as well as other books. Creator of over 12 e-courses, 3 masterclasses and 3 books, she has coached and taught over 12,000 nonprofit professionals how to be better fundraisers since 2010. Mazarine is the founder of the Fundraising Career Conference and the Nonprofit Leadership Summit.