By Anj Handa and Rebecca Bell

The need to be liked runs deep and manifests in many forms: seeking approval; feeling ‘enough;’ the never-ending quest for perfection in our work. It’s exhausting. In this blog, we’re serving up two perspectives on people pleasing and interactions at work and at home. Both are ‘coincidentally’ food-related.

Rebecca… on Marmite

Marmite. As the advert goes, you either love it or hate it. And it’s the same with people. Try as you might, you’re just never going to get along with some people, whilst others completely ‘get you’.  Of course, there are also some distinctly middle-of-the-road people – let’s call them strawberry jam – who most can tolerate.

But they don’t occupy your thoughts because you focus on spending time with people you love and actively avoiding those you can’t stand. Working with a bunch of Marmite-lovers if you hate Marmite can be tough. So what can you do to get through it?

1) Find some common ground. There must be a shared purpose that you can align on. If you share the same objective, it’s easier to tolerate them and appreciate their contribution

2) Don’t obsess. Having an unhealthy negative interest in someone has a nasty habit of cultivating those feelings. Don’t bitch, don’t moan, just try to avoid them.

3) Celebrate fellow-Marmite lovers. Take energy and positivity from the people you love. It helps you forget those you don’t It’s a hard fact of life that not everyone loves you. Some people will hate you on sight. So know that, accept that, and keep doing you!

PS. If you don’t know it, Marmite is a salty spread that’s delicious on toast. I’m a Marmite lover!

Anj… on Pizza

A while back, I had one of my periodic conversations with my friend and fellow coach, Yvette Puliga. We’ve been in each other’s lives for around eighteen years. Although we’re both from Yorkshire, we worked together in London.

I moved back to Leeds in 2003, she’s back down South. As a result, we don’t get to see each other too much, so when we do pick up the phone, our calls are epic – usually two hours of setting our worlds to rights.

I concluded our call with “Not everyone is universally liked.” Click To Tweet

Silence… then “That’s gold, Anj. You’ve got to use that.”

“You can’t please everyone, you’re not pizza.”

Once, whilst on a panel speaking to an audience of female business owners, I mentioned a meme that I’d seen on Facebook. It was “You can’t please everyone, you’re not pizza.” It struck a chord, and got me thinking that not everyone likes pizza either.

That’s the point. How we show up in the world will hugely resonate with some people; others will be switched off. I’ve illustrated this point to a number of coaching clients and friends over the last few years.

Getting over People Pleasing

I remember last year, when a friend was struggling with the issue of people pleasing and I shocked her into this realisation. She was pretty upset and was probably expecting some kind of compassionate response. I knew that approach wouldn’t move her forward, so I stated that not everyone likes the Dalai Lama.

She looked at me, confused. I went on to say that some factions really don’t like him at all, so why did she expect that everyone would like what she had to say? My point was proven when she went to hear him speak a few months later, only to find protestors outside the venue!

As Rebecca suggests, surrounding ourselves with the right kind of people is another way to feel more secure. It can be hard to sever friendships that no longer make us feel good. Sometimes I haven’t done that right away, but rather ‘downgraded’ from dinner or nights out to a catch-up over coffee.

As a result, life improved significantly – no more drama. You can’t control who likes you, so takes control of the element that you can control, and that’s your own inner self.

Anj Handa is the Founder of Inspiring Women Changemakers. She helps women to speak up: for themselves, for others, and for social issues.