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Me? A people-pleaser?

May 1, 2015

I was actually quite offended. Though I don’t think my friend meant it as a scathing rebuke, it cut deep. He understood I was getting some flak for a wise decision our leadership team made, as the decision was not fully understood and slightly unpopular. “Well, Steve, it’s hard when you want to be a people-pleaser, like you do, to make these tough decisions.” OUCH!

The comments hurt worse because the particular decision was not actually a difficult choice for me. I pushed the idea forward. I knew there would be some minor pushback – and there was a bit more than expected – but that didn’t bother me. We all knew the decision was right and the process of the making the decision was also correct. The little criticism we received, we took graciously. But my friend thought I was a people-pleaser… where did that come from?

The truth is I was, am, and probably always will be fairly “politically-conscious.” I would like to think I make the right decisions, regardless of how “popular” (or not) the decision. While I try to be polite and respectful and choose my words carefully, that does not stop me from publicly, even decisively, coming down on one side of an issue clearly in front of a group, some of whom may differ. Like most in my generation, I find it okay to proceed without unanimity, and even the awkwardness that sometimes results in a group where the tension is unresolved. Increasingly, I find complete support for an idea to be almost impossible, but that shouldn’t stop us from moving forward. In most cases, I have felt comfortable, at the moment and later in hindsight, with the decision reached and my part in that process.

Yet my friends’ words made me realize I may sometimes be too diplomatic. Sometimes you can try to “soften” the blow so much and explain it so carefully… and you just need to lay the decision on the table, take some heat for a while, and toughen up your skin. If you try to please everybody, you’ll end up pleasing nobody!

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