People Pleaser?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being cast as a people pleaser who can be fired:

I am struggling to figure out why it does not fail that people I tend to attract people are people who doubt my skills and insinuate that I am lying. This happens at every temp job assignment and every job I’ve ever had. This also happens with my freelance clients who talk as though they know more about my business than I do. Is it because I look younger than I actually am? I dress in business casual whenever I see clients. I write complete sentences. My most recent job laid me off because I did not delegate my work and I was a “people pleaser”. How does that work?

I worked a lot of overtime hours because nobody else in the office could do the work that I do and no one else wanted to stay late at last-minute notice. They did not seem to care about the work. I was the one who lost my job while the woman who sat next to me sent text messages, socialized with other co-workers, chatted on the telephone and played with her ipad all day long is still working, but I am without a job. This does not seem right, does it? What am I doing wrong??

Signed, People Pleaser?

Dear People Pleaser?:

No, it doesn’t make sense to be fired when a coworker, who fiddles when she should be working, is not. Nor does it make sense, with the little information you provide for me to understand why anyone would doubt your skill and honesty. This is to say, to provide you sound advice is something that I would like to do, but that is impossible without a more complete picture of what has happened over unhappy times you’ve had with employers.Although at this juncture neither you nor I can diagnose the why of what has happened, the issue now for you is how to cope. You say you have free-lance clients; therefore, I assume you have developed a skill that provides something to keep the wolf from the door however little it is. Also I assume because you need money, you are forced to turn to temp agencies. In the short-run, you must do what you can to get some work, and in the long-run, am I wrong to think you are at a point in which you need to re-frame how you approach the job market?

For now, then can you cope with the most recent job lost? Emotionally, can you look in the mirror and face the fact that life isn’t fair and that free-riders sometimes get by while others who do the peddling do not? How you talk to yourself at a time like this matters. You are right to describe your strengths. You are wrong to blame all that has happened on yourself. Sure it’s sensible to reflect on why you might not be taken seriously, as you say you might look younger than you actually are. That might be partly the cause for your problems, but that seems to be more of an indication that you are at a loss to explain what isn’t going well than is a real cause. How you talk to yourself can descend to self-doubt and despair.Now is it not a time to focus on the good you can give to yourself and to others? What makes you feel good; singing in a choir, taking walks with a friend, and/or tutoring a child or an adult who is trying to learn to read in a library program? It’s good to be a people pleaser. In the long-run, the hard fact likely is that you are in an economy that doesn’t welcome those without special skills. You are literate, but you must determine if you can learn what is wanted and required in the job market. Coaching you on that can’t be done from afar. Surely in your community there are those who might help you gradually attain skills that are needed and that might build on those you now possess. I’m at a loss to make suggestions in the dark, but consider many possibilities: working in the library, medical field, some tech area, etc. Hopefully, these few remarks, in a small way, will help you to hang in there for now and prompt you discover ways to a career path. Meanwhile, am I wrong to suggest that even the dirty and unattractive jobs are important and that we are in trouble unless somebody does them?

These occupations too need people pleasers.None of us is more important than those who pick up the trash and clean our floors. None of us is more important than those who care for our children, the disabled, and elderly. I’m currently re-reading When Fish Fly and, Fish Tales that tell of the Pike Place Fish Market. Also Maybe (Maybe Not) and Nader’s Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. One of more of these might appeal to you because I can sense you are an intelligent, caring woman. You are more than what you do. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my way of suggesting we are interdependent wherever we are and whatever we do. The common good depends on those who care and I can tell that you do.

William Gorden