Personal Finance

Stop pleasing people and focus on work at hand


Just as their pleasure is their responsibility, our personal and professional improvement within and beyond an organisation is our responsibility. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Pleasure of any kind is satisfying for the person experiencing it. Everyone should have the privilege of experiencing some in one way or another. Knock yourself out, whatever yours may be. That said, repeat this after me: “Every individual is responsible for his/her pleasure”.

This is especially so in the workplace. A regrettable number of us are unaware of this basic “law of pleasure”. We go around jumping up high enough to hit our heads on the ceilings (perhaps hoping to break the proverbial kinds with brute force) and bending over backwards until we hear a bone or two breaks, to please others.

Needless to say, this ends up being a very frustrating endeavour every time without fail. We have got to understand that the complex dynamism of each person means that attempting to please anyone, particularly our managers can be as futile as it is frustrating.

We want to understand what the vision is, inculcate it into our thought processes and match our work activities to the set objectives within our job and team profiles.

When we get so hung up about pleasing others, we inevitably set ourselves up for rather bumpy emotional and professional journeys. Praise and even empty flattery send us on highs while feedback and constructive criticism takes all the wind from beneath our wing sending us splattering to pieces in sorrow.

Criticism offers us an opportunity to grow. We have got to interrogate our views of words, tone of voice applied, and even our mental state at the time of the correction. We need to understand why criticism is offensive.

It helps to keep our egos in check and appreciate that it is not necessarily about our person, and if it is, all the more reason to receive criticism with both hands as the gift of feedback that it is. The essence of the message is usually that there are opportunities for improvement and the fruitful thing to do is to get on with it.

Those in positions that require them to give lots of feedback usually end up being seen as “difficult and hard to please”. Once again, we do not need to please anyone at work. Just as their pleasure is their responsibility, our personal and professional improvement within and beyond an organisation is our responsibility.

If we find some, hooray, but it is no one’s responsibility to motivate us into self-improvement. To thrive in any contractual relationship, the onus is on us to be in the right frame of mind to meaningfully and productively engage with our team members for mutually profitable business outcomes.

We only strive to please others when we lack the requisite confidence in our service delivery as professionals. Offering great service with the requisite attitude takes away the need to please anyone beyond the healthy professional levels. It is precisely why it is important to do work that inspires and uplifts us to be the best that we can.

With inspiration on an individual level, work becomes less about working for a particular organisation and more about providing good service no matter where we do it. We have got to have the confidence that emanates from the knowledge that when we provide a great service as a standard, we can do so anywhere. With this comes the comfort of realising that our managers and employers are not our sources of income.

We, through our service, are our own source of income and therefore do not need to be on the unrewarding quest to please.

Simply do what you do exceptionally well. Money, recognition, and everything else inevitably follow.

[email protected] | @SRuligirwa