Pleasing others by looking out for yourself?

July 22, 2022

Pleasing others by looking out for yourself?

We’ve all been guilty of people-pleasing at some point in our lives. As humans, we crave affirmation from people around us, usually people that we love, like our family and friends, but sometimes even strangers. And sometimes, we focus so much on gaining this acceptance from others that we feel insignificant if we don’t get it from others.

I wanted to talk to you about something I have heard about before, and I recently came across it again while reading Snowball by Warren Buffett: Inner Scorecard vs. Outer Scorecard. I shared it with my kids, and I wanted to share it with you too. I wrote a blog about it a few days ago. If you want, you can read it.

In the book, Buffett poses some tough questions:

“Would you rather be the world's greatest lover, but have everyone think you're the world's worst lover? Or would you rather be the world's worst lover but have everyone think you're the world's greatest lover? … If the world couldn't see your results, would you rather be thought of as the world's greatest investor but in reality have the world's worst record? Or be thought of as the world's worst investor when you were actually the best?”

As a business person, the second question got me thinking, “If they think I am the best investor, I could probably get more opportunities,” but I’m probably thinking too much. The first question, though, really got me to pause and think.

Buffet also says, “In teaching your kids, I think the lesson they're learning at a very, very early age is what their parents put the emphasis on. If all the emphasis is on what the world's going to think about you, forgetting about how you really behave, you'll wind up with an Outer Scorecard.”

I want to talk to you about that feeling that we have when we’re looking to please people.

Sometimes, other people ask a lot of us: 

I think how we feel during situations like this stems a lot from how we were brought up when we were younger. It got me self-reflecting and asking myself, “Am I a people-pleaser?”

I want you to ask yourself the same question. 

What does it mean to be a people-pleaser? According to VeryWell Mind, “People-pleasing is associated with a personality trait known as ‘sociotropy,’ or feeling overly concerned with pleasing others and earning their approval as a way to maintain relationships.”

They also provide a list of some signs that you might be a people-pleaser.

Do you…

(Source: VeryWell Mind)

Try asking yourself those questions and answering them truthfully.

The struggle is real here. I’m bringing this up because this is something that isn’t new. It’s been around for a long time, across all generations. And I want you to start thinking, are you people-pleasing?

There is nothing wrong with wanting to make other people happy. But I think there should be a balance here. You’ve got to have time (and make time) for yourself.

If you are trying to please others at the expense of yourself? Then maybe you need to start re-thinking your priorities. Learn how to say “no” to somebody, especially when it is a situation that doesn’t serve you, your values, and what you set out to do, your purpose.

When I created LabCoat Agents—which is now the largest community for real estate agents in the world, we have one of the largest Facebook groups with 150,000 people—when I created it, people were like, “What are you doing with Facebook? Why are you wasting your time there?”

I’ll tell them, “No, I’m just doing this to help out people.”

I kept on hearing from others, “Are you sure you want to share all that [trade secret] with other people? I mean, you’re telling other people how to succeed in real estate. Why don’t you just keep it for yourself and do it?”

And I would keep on telling them, “No,” but sometimes I would think, “Are they right? Am I wasting my time with this?”

It is normal to feel that way sometimes. It is built into human nature.

There’s this one article I found on, and in it, there’s a little excerpt from something Adam Smith wrote 225 years ago in his book The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

“Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely; or to be that thing which is the natural and proper object of love,” says Adam. In essence, we want to be significant. We want to be sure that people like us.

He continues, “He naturally dreads, not only to be hated, but to be hateful; or to be that thing which is the natural and proper object of hatred. He desires, not only praise, but praiseworthiness; or to be that thing which, though it should be praised by nobody, is, however, the natural and proper object of praise. He dreads, not only blame, but blame-worthiness; or to be that thing which, though it should be blamed by nobody, is, however, the natural and proper object of blame.”

So, not only do we want to be loved, accepted, feel significant, and please other people, but we also don’t want to be that thing, that someone that people don’t like. We also don’t want to be hated.

But sometimes, you've got to draw the line, and know that other people are going to talk bad about you no matter what.

Stick to what you believe in and what you want to do. Know that it’s a balance. There are priorities you have that you’re going to have to say “No” to other things too. And you might feel bad about it. I mean, I say “no” a lot, and I still feel bad, daily.

Just know that you have to set boundaries as you grow. And as the world changes around us, it gets tougher to do business, because we have to contact more people, talk to more people, and identify what those priorities are in our lives: self-care, family, business. Try to say “no” to those things that would take away from those priorities, even if they might make you feel a little bit guilty.

That is how you will grow, one step at a time.