Episode 15: Overcoming Your People Pleasing Habit with Tracy Secombe

In this week’s episode, I am sitting down with Tracy Secombe. Tracy is an entrepreneur, personal development coach, a former Miss Australia and author of the book “From People Pleaser to Soul Pleaser” . 


Tracy grew up as a people pleaser, which had a massive impact on her life and her wellbeing. When her Mum passed away in 2016, she vowed to change, putting her three businesses at the time on the backburner to prioritising herself and her family. 


In this episode we discuss what a people pleaser is, the different types of people pleasers, the negative impacts of being a people pleasing leader, how to discourage people pleasing in the workplace and strategies to overcome your own people pleasing tendencies. 


If you have ever found yourself people pleasing, putting other peoples needs and wants ahead of your own, then this conversation is for you! 


01:43  Tracy Secombe Background

03:23  What exactly is People Pleasing?

06:40  Signs you are a People Pleaser

19:42  People Pleasing in the Workplace

25:25  Tackling People Pleasing as a Leader

28:28  Negative Consequences of People Pleasing

31:20  Creating an Authentic Work Environment

33:46  Creating Psychological Safety is key to Unraveling People Pleasing

36:31  Steps to Overcome People Pleasing

45:24  The Root Cause of People Pleasing

Tracy Secombe Podcast People Pleasing


Get in touch with Tracy: www.tracysecombe.com.au


[00:00:00] Rob Hills: This is the Balance Leader Podcast, the podcast that helps leaders elevate their wellbeing and create healthier workplaces. My name is Rob Hills and I am your leadership and wellbeing coach. In this week’s episode, I’m sitting down with Tracy Seacombe. Tracy is an entrepreneur, a personal development coach, a former Miss Australia, and author of the book, From People Pleaser to Soul Pleaser.

Tracy grew up as a people pleaser, which had a massive impact on her life and her wellbeing. When her mum passed away in 2016, she vowed to change, putting her three businesses at the time on the backburner to prioritise herself and her family. In this episode, we discuss what a people pleaser is, the different types of people pleasers, the negative impacts of being a people pleasing leader, how to discourage people pleasing in the workplace, and how to discourage people pleasing in the workplace, and strategies to overcome your own people pleasing tendencies. If you’ve ever found yourself people pleasing or putting other people’s needs and wants ahead of your own, then this conversation is for you. So let’s dive into today’s episode with Tracy Seacombe.

Welcome Tracy to the Balance Leader Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:01:23] Tracy Secombe: Oh, you’re welcome. It’s great to be here.

[00:01:25] Rob Hills: Tracy, I am really excited for today’s episode. Because I am a massive people pleaser and you are the author of the book from people pleaser to soul pleaser. So to start us off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to write a book on people pleasing?

[00:01:43] Tracy Secombe: Well, like you, the book came about because I was a massive people pleaser and it can still pop up now and again, even now, it’s not like you completely drop it altogether. Um, but for me, I grew up in a country town. My mom was a really big people pleaser and in a small community, I think, you know, it can be exacerbated because everybody knows you.

[00:02:06] So she was worried about what everybody thought. And so we learned as children to be on our best behavior so that everyone thought. She was a good mother and we were good kids. And, and then that translated into me wanting to be really good at school, get good grades. I really enjoyed the praise from my parents and from my teachers.

[00:02:25] And eventually for me, it sort of developed into perfectionism, which can be quite common for people pleases because you’re trying so hard to achieve so that you get the praise and then you just go too far with it. So I ended up with anorexia, um, when I was about 17 and I went into physiotherapy, you know, high achieving type profession, ran my own businesses, ended up very burnt out.

[00:02:51] And I only realized I was burnt out when my mum passed away. And that’s when it all occurred to me that all of my behavior was driven from my people pleasing. And so I helped myself and then I decided that I wanted to help other people pleases and started my course from people pleaser to soul pleaser that I coach people through.

[00:03:14] And then I saw such incredible results with my clients that I thought I wanted to reach more people, which is why I wrote the book.

[00:03:22] Rob Hills: Yeah, that’s awesome. So for people listening who might not know exactly what people pleasing is, what is people pleasing?

[00:03:29] Tracy Secombe: Yeah, I’m really glad that you’ve asked that question because there’s actually nothing wrong with pleasing people.

[00:03:34] Like, obviously it’s nice for people to be pleased and for you to have contributed to the fact that they’re happy. So that’s not a problem. If you happily are doing things that causes other people to be happy, great, everyone’s winning. The problem becomes when somebody needs it. So as a people pleaser, we really need other people to be happy so that we can be happy.

[00:03:59] And that’s a slippery slope because we actually can’t control whether somebody else is happy or not. So if our happiness depends on that, then our emotions are going to be all over the place because sometimes the people around us will be happy and sometimes they won’t be. And so That’s really the crux of it is a people pleases happiness depends on other people’s happiness.

[00:04:23] Rob Hills: Yeah, right. You, you mentioned there a second ago, uh, that your mother was a people pleaser. So is this, do you think this is a nature thing or a nurture thing? Are people born because of their parents, uh, as people pleases, or is it something that’s sort of embedded into us as a child? Because of the environment we’re in.

[00:04:43] Tracy Secombe: I think that it is nurture because I believe that from the moment that we’re conceived, we are aware. So when my mum was carrying me, I was aware of what she was thinking and feeling, and she was people pleasing. So I was experiencing it from. Day dot. And so she modeled it to me. I witnessed it. And as a people pleaser, she was inadvertently needing us to please her.

[00:05:14] So she didn’t realize that she was trying her best to please us and be the best mother that she could. But what I learned very early on is that certain behaviors of mine made my mom happy and certain behaviors made her unhappy. That was my perception. And so that. It was the start of me wanting to please another human was my mother, because that’s the first exposure that I had.

[00:05:38] Um, my dad wasn’t a people pleaser. So although I wanted him to be proud of me and there was some of it coming from that, most of it was this relationship with my mom, because I saw that her emotions were very fragile and that I could feel responsible for them from a very young age. And so I think that’s often the way that we.

[00:06:00] learn to be people pleasers.

[00:06:02] Rob Hills: That’s really interesting that your dad wasn’t a people pleaser, but your mom was. Do you think that affected your behavior with your mom and your dad? So did you behave differently because of it?

[00:06:11] Tracy Secombe: Yeah, I think that I would have learned that I had to tread on eggshells in a way around mom because she was more sensitive to, you know, being triggered easily.

[00:06:21] Whereas dad had a real sense of himself. He had a lot of self confidence and so. You know, yes, he, his emotions could go up and down, but he was generally more even. So I didn’t learn that there was much light relying on me as much to keep him happy as there was, you know, with my mom. Yeah. Okay.

[00:06:40] Rob Hills: Um, what are some of the common signs or behaviors that indicates someone is a people pleaser.

[00:06:46] Tracy Secombe: So, one of the first things is that they continue to do things that they don’t want to do. So, a lot of people pleasers end up burnt out, even if they don’t recognise that they are in burnout, because they say yes to everything. And so they become extremely busy and they don’t prioritize themselves. And that’s really what happened with my mom.

[00:07:08] That’s why she ended up sick is because she was just looking after everybody else, wasn’t looking after herself at all. So one of the big symptoms or signs of a people pleaser is somebody that can’t say no. Or doesn’t say no enough and puts everybody else first. And that feels like a really kind thing to do.

[00:07:27] You know, that feels quite magnanimous, but really, if we don’t include ourselves in the mix, we end up with having nothing left to give. So, so that’s a really big one. Another 1 is that people pleases won’t say what they mean. They won’t say what they want to say. They want to avoid confrontation. They don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

[00:07:51] They don’t want to let somebody down. Um, 1 of the businesses that I had. But just before mum died, I was running three businesses at the time. I was ready to move on, you know, I’d, I’d had my time there. It had served its purpose for me, but I didn’t want to do it anymore. And I stayed for probably a couple of years longer than I really wanted to, because I didn’t want to let people down.

[00:08:12] So we can end up in stuck in places because we’re afraid to say what’s true for us.

[00:08:18] Rob Hills: Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned something there that made me think that There might be different types of people pleases. So I imagine that someone who tries to people please for say, external validation may have a different motivation than someone who’s doing it to avoid conflict.

[00:08:34] Is that right? Are there different types of people pleases?

[00:08:37] Tracy Secombe: Yeah. And I think that that also is related to our history and the experiences we’ve had in the past. Um, for me, it’s both. So I wanted validation, um, because I really enjoyed validation and it made me feel like I was. Good enough or worthy, but also I hated conflict and that’s because, um, my mom and dad fought a lot and it would escalate into shouting, um, and people pleases often not always will be sensitive to energy.

[00:09:05] So that is our superpower. The fact that. We are sensitive to emotions and how people are feeling, but energy comes in lots of different forms, including volume. And so for me, the shouting was really quite terrifying and I, you know, used to try to avoid it. And then I recognized later in years, You know, I have adult children now.

[00:09:27] If two of them would argue, I would, you know, my heart rate would increase, you know, and there’s nothing to fear when my children are fighting. They’re just disagreeing on something. It’s fine. But it was just that learned behavior where as a child, when I didn’t know how to understand it and it caused fear, quite often, we can bring that forward into our adulthood and start to Still fear still conflict.

[00:09:50] Even though as adults, the conflict is something that we don’t need to be afraid of. It’s just an opportunity for us to share different opinions.

[00:09:59] Rob Hills: So does that create triggers in people that if they say, hear a loud noise and it’s something that impacts them, they may want to start People pleasing to. to, to stop the chaos, if you like.

[00:10:13] Tracy Secombe: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s really all triggers are, you know, I think that triggers are always an opportunity. If we can become aware of something that triggers a negative emotion, that’s an opportunity for us to explore that and ask, what is this really about? And the way that you know, that it’s a trigger rather than a natural reaction.

[00:10:31] Yeah. Is whether it feels like an overreaction to the current circumstances, you know, sometimes I’m working with adults who will make a mistake or something will go wrong, something out of their control, like, you know, the car breaking down. And they’ll be furious, you know, like their reaction is really an overreaction to something that, you know, can be easily fixed.

[00:10:55] And that is often related to the fact that they got into trouble when they made mistakes when they were young, somebody in their life was hard on them. And so then they became hard on themselves. And in that moment, when something goes wrong, they take it personally and feel bad about themselves. And that’s the problem.

[00:11:15] They’re beating themselves up about something, even when it’s not their fault. So triggers are really the way that we can evolve and learn about ourselves and start to change the way that we respond to certain stimulus.

[00:11:28] Rob Hills: That sounds like it’s a real warning sign for people to look out for. So if they do what I call, which is a 100 reaction to a Tencent crime, then that may be an indication that there’s something else going on for them.

[00:11:40] What do you think might be other, um, warning signs for people to look out for?

[00:11:45] Tracy Secombe: Um, if you’re unhappy and if your emotions are on a roller coaster, that’s how I would have explained myself before. And then when you get really burnt out, you become numb. So you can be in all different stages of it. But with all the people that I’ve worked with during through going through burnout, people pleasing is often almost a hundred percent of the time, the underlying factor that’s causing it.

[00:12:12] Because if we listen to ourselves, And we tune into ourselves and we choose based on how we’re feeling. We will never let ourselves get that far where we’ve pushed ourselves so far that we’re exhausted. So we lose that emotional awareness. You know, when, when mum died and I was grieving, I really refer to that as the time that my heart cracked open because before that I was living in my head.

[00:12:40] And when we live in our head, we shut down our heart. So I was so good at pretending that I was happy to the outside world. I didn’t know how I really felt anymore. So my emotions weren’t real in a sense. And I could almost fool myself into feeling like I was happy around people when I was on stage or coaching or teaching, you know, it was easy for me to have this facade and I kind of had the world and myself fooled, but when I was lying in bed, rehashing and overthinking and worrying, I was just, you know, exhausting myself.

[00:13:14] So, you know, there’s a lot of warning signs that are showing you that you are not doing what you want. You’re doing what you think you should, which might be related to the people in your present, or it still might be related to the people in your past.

[00:13:29] Rob Hills: So it sounds like our own stories and our own inner voice is really contributing to this need to people pleasing.

[00:13:37] Is that right?

[00:13:38] Tracy Secombe: Yeah, usually a people pleaser will have quite a strong inner critic. So I realized that most of my people pleasing was not to anybody real in my life. It was to this voice in my head that was really hard on me. And briefly celebrated my wins, if at all, but mostly focused on my mistakes, mostly focused on where I was falling short.

[00:14:02] You know, when you’re a perfectionist, you are attached to an ideal rather than looking at how far you’ve come. And I think if you can shift that, and if you can be happy with yourself, no matter where you’re at and celebrate your wins a lot more than focusing in on where you think you’ve got it wrong. I think that that inner story has a big part to play and, you know, it makes you come across as needy as well.

[00:14:29] A lot of people say to me, if I stop people pleasing, will I still be a nice person? You know, will people still like me if I’m not a people pleaser? And I realize now that People like me more now that I’m relaxed and I’m myself and I can just be present and, and joyful in the moment. Whereas when I was always worried about what I was going to say next and, you know, it just comes across as awkward and inauthentic and trying too hard.

[00:14:57] You know, people can almost feel that and, you know, it’s, it’s exhausting as well.

[00:15:03] Rob Hills: Yeah, and I think when I reflect on my own people pleasing, I know that people’s opinion of me really matters to me. So, uh, I almost feel a little bit on guard all the time and I am careful of what I say. And I think that does show up in perfectionism sometimes.

[00:15:18] Uh, so it’s interesting you should say that, uh, that that’s a, that’s a big factor that people should be mindful of and looking out for.

[00:15:26] Tracy Secombe: Absolutely. And when it comes to other people’s opinions, really their opinion in any given moment is based on how they’re feeling. in that moment. So our emotions really guide our thoughts and our thoughts guide our emotions.

[00:15:41] And so I might be talking to you right now. And if you’re in a good mood, then you’ll be really enjoying what I’m saying because you’re feeling good. But if I caught you in a bad moment, you might actually feel a little bit critical about what I’m saying because of the state that you’re in. So when you realize how out of control that is, it’s just such a waste of energy for us to have the intention of doing something because of what somebody else might think.

[00:16:08] And it’s all about changing the intention, you know? So now I do things for the joy of it. I do things because. It feels good rather than because somebody might think something about what I’m going to do, because that is something I have absolutely no control over.

[00:16:25] Rob Hills: Yeah, of course. So would you call yourself a reformed people pleaser or as you probably already mentioned, actually, um, this still creeps in from time to time?

[00:16:33] Tracy Secombe: Yeah, I would say that I’m, um, a work in progress and always will be. Um, I would say that, you know, there are people like my husband and my dad who are not people pleases. They’re kind, you know, like my husband does loads of things that really pleases me, but he just does that out of love. He, he doesn’t have any expectation out of that.

[00:16:56] Um, and so I think that there are people that are just naturally that way. And then there are people like us who are unlearning our conditioning, um, but it can be. Come very automated. So most of the time, my new way of being is very automatic. And it’s interesting because it will depend on how much skin you’ve got in the game, what will trigger you.

[00:17:20] So it’s very easy for me to be relaxed about the opinion of people I don’t know very well. But. And particularly about the emotions of people I don’t know very well. So obviously as a coach, I’m coaching people who come to me generally unhappy. That’s why they come. And so I’m working with people that don’t feel great and their emotion does not pull me down like it used to because the other link with people pleases is we’re often empaths.

[00:17:48] So we are emotionally Empathetic. But what we want to be is cognitively empathetic. So we understand rather than our emotions joining them, which means every time we come across someone who is unhappy, next thing, we’re unhappy, happy as well. The test for me that will still come up because I’m only human is somebody I really, really love, like one of my children.

[00:18:13] So when one of my children is going through a challenge and they’re really unhappy, that’s when I will notice myself feeling for them. Okay. Because I love them so much, but I become aware of it more quickly. And I understand that I’m going to be more helpful to them. If I can see them as how they want to be rather than joining them and feeling like they’re going to stay stuck in the challenge that they’re having at the moment.

[00:18:38] Rob Hills: So that’s really interesting. So our level of people pleasing will go up and down depending on the situation we find ourselves in. So we may be chronic people pleasers at home, but in the work environment, for example, we may not feel the need to people please as much.

[00:18:55] Tracy Secombe: Absolutely. And the reverse. So, you know, my dad used to call my mum, um, street angel, house devil, because she was so nice to everybody down the street, but she had to let off steam somewhere.

[00:19:09] Like you’ve got to have a place for her. where you feel safe to be honest about how you’re really feeling. And she was exhausted. You know, she used to work night shift and she used to look after us kids during the day. You know, I don’t know how she did it. And so somewhere along the line, we’re going to let our emotions out.

[00:19:25] So we will, will people please more in some circumstances than others.

[00:19:30] Rob Hills: So how does this look in the work environment and how does it show up? How does people please and show up? In a professional relationships or, um, you know, in a, even a leader to a team member environment.

[00:19:42] Tracy Secombe: Yeah. Yeah. That’s such a great question.

[00:19:44] So really perfect question for me because I’ve run businesses since I was 18 and I can reflect on what sort of leader I was as a people pleaser and what sort of leader I am now. So as a people pleasing leader. The problem is that you want your team to be happy and you want them to respect you and you want them to think you’re a good leader.

[00:20:09] So you’re subconsciously trying, you’re trying to get it right. And if you’ve got a large team, then you’ve got all different personalities to deal with or with different opinions and all different needs. And the problem is, is that your focus is on yourself rather than on them. Which is quite ironic because when people are people pleasers, they will say, I’m selfless.

[00:20:33] I put everybody before myself. But in fact, I would argue that you are self focused, you’re self conscious. And so, you know, when you get up on stage or when you have a team meeting, you’re worried you’ll make a mistake or you’re worried that people won’t like what you have to say, or you know, you, you’re nervous.

[00:20:53] And when you push your attention outwards. To help, to serve, to empower, then the attention is off you. And then you become this incredible leader because you’re empowering them rather than you trying to be controlling, which is what can happen when you’re a people pleaser. So I, I’m a member of a board, there’s four of us and the other members of the board have this incredible.

[00:21:24] Self-awareness. They know who they are, they’re unapologetically who they are, and they say what they mean. And I love working with them. ’cause I know where, where I stand, I know how they’re thinking. I don’t have to guess what they’re thinking. There’s no game playing, there’s no leaving anything off the table.

[00:21:42] There’s just compu. Complete, open and honest communication. And as a leader, if we’re a people pleaser, we won’t say what we need to say. Like for example, performance reviews. There is no point in beating around the bush and trying to keep someone happy and not wanting to hurt their feelings. If they are not meeting the demands of the job, you have not explained it to them properly or you have not held them accountable to it correctly.

[00:22:10] And you’re always responsible for that. So I think that we can really fall down as leaders when we allow ourselves to be people pleasers in the workplace.

[00:22:20] Rob Hills: Yeah, and I imagine that, um, most people pleasers think that they’re doing it, and I’m holding my hand up here as well, think they’re doing it for the right reasons, but when you explain it like that, that perhaps you’re being a little self focused instead of, I’m focusing on how I can help or how I can develop those around me.

[00:22:36] Uh, that makes a big difference, right?

[00:22:38] Tracy Secombe: Yeah. Telling the truth to someone is helping them. If you’re turning a blind eye to somewhere where they’re falling short continuously, how is that helping them to improve as far as they’re concerned, they’re doing a good job. They’re completely unaware. They don’t know that they’re not meeting the requirements because you’re too scared to tell them because you don’t want to upset them.

[00:22:58] And I just. Always come back to the fact that I believe that we’re here to grow, to be the best version of ourselves. And so as a leader, we lead by example, by working on ourselves, by continually stretching ourselves. And that might be by showing up and telling the truth. And it might make us feel uncomfortable to do it.

[00:23:19] I remember when I first started to say what I mean, I was nervous about it. And one of the first things I did when I became very aware of my people pleasing and the impact it was having on me and my family by running three very busy businesses that kept me working all the time, I wanted to let one of them go.

[00:23:37] And I knew that the people that I was going to Go and meet and tell them that would be shocked because they, there was no sign of it from me. Cause I was so good at letting the outside world know nothing was wrong. And I knew that they would probably feel let down and disappointed. And so I was very nervous about it, but I was just really honest.

[00:24:00] I told the whole truth. I said, I’ve wanted to leave for a very long time, but I’ve been too scared to leave because I knew you’d be disappointed. Yeah. I knew that you would feel let down. I know my team will miss me, but ultimately I just have to really follow my heart and do what I want to do. Um, and you know, when I left the people that relied on me had to step up, that was their opportunity to grow into the next level because I was gone and it made me realize something else about a people pleaser and particularly in leadership and business ownership is that.

[00:24:35] I needed to be needed. I actually loved all those people being reliant on me because that made me feel important. And when I let go of that. Then I don’t, I don’t do things for that reason. I want to empower someone else to become independent. That’s a true leader.

[00:24:54] Rob Hills: What about the leader who feels a little bit like they’re the meat in the sandwich, right?

[00:24:59] So you’ve got the message coming from on high, you know, this is the way it’s got to be. You’ve got the people, um, around you and underneath you saying, why does it have to be like this? You know, can’t you change it? And I imagine that, and I’ve, you know, felt this myself before, a little bit stuck in the middle trying to translate the message.

[00:25:16] How would it be better if people weren’t a people pleaser in that situation to try and negate that?

[00:25:23] Tracy Secombe: Yeah. That’s such a good question. So I think that the empathy is a powerful part of being a person. a leader. But again, you want to be cognitively empathetic more than emotionally empathetic because otherwise you’re just going to be emotionally all over the place.

[00:25:40] So

[00:25:40] Rob Hills: just interrupt. Does that mean so you are aware of your empathy, but you’re not necessarily too attached or emotionally involved with the empathy? Is that what you mean? The difference

[00:25:50] Tracy Secombe: Yeah. So when we are emotionally empathetic, we actually feel the emotion of the other person. So the other person is, you know, disappointed and we feel that we can feel the disappointment and that drains our energy and we can’t really make great decisions when we’re feeling like that.

[00:26:07] So to energize ourselves, we’re like, I get it. Like I really do. I understand where you’re coming from. I’m not blocking your ideas and I’m not making them wrong. I hear what you’re saying and I understand your point of view. So that’s the first thing. I think that that’s really important. However, I think that when we have a leader above us, we have to come back to the definition of our role and our responsibilities.

[00:26:34] And when we’re very clear on that, then we can explain that to the people that we’re leading. I get where you’re coming from and I understand that. However, my responsibility is to ABC. And so if you feel like this is the right job for you, there is some acceptance required of you that this is the, this is the deal.

[00:26:57] Like this is what you’re choosing. You can’t change this overarching purpose of this job. We can change what we will, what we can change, but there must be some acceptance of what we can’t change. And that’s sometimes why we’re people pleasing is we’re just, we’re kind of encouraging someone to resist something that they have no control over where there needs to be acceptance.

[00:27:20] Rob Hills: And this could also be about avoiding conflict as well, I imagine.

[00:27:24] Tracy Secombe: Yeah.

[00:27:24] Rob Hills: Rather than having the tough conversation now, we sort of push it off and, you know, hopefully it’ll go away. In my experience, that doesn’t always happen. It ends up being a mozza ball soup after a while.

[00:27:34] Tracy Secombe: Oh, it blows out, you know. And the other thing that I find with people pleasers is we’re like a volcano.

[00:27:40] We hold it down. We hold it down. We hold it down. And if we just had brought it up, when we first started to feel it, it wouldn’t have been such a big feeling. And the other reason, you know, we’re often like that with our team is we just want them to like us. Like we just feel like we’ll get more out of our team if they like us, but you’ve got to realize that if we are saying anything, but the whole truth, the us that they are liking is not the real us anyway.

[00:28:10] It’s some made up version of us because we’re just saying what they want to hear. So that’s not true liking anyway.

[00:28:16] Rob Hills: Yeah, definitely. It’s interesting. You mentioned some of the work you’ve been doing with leaders and in the corporate space. What are some of the negative consequences or risks for a leader who is a people pleaser?

[00:28:28] Tracy Secombe: Burnout is probably the biggest one. So I see leaders burning out because their people pleases. And there are a lot of reasons why. So the first one is the conditioning from, from their growing up years. So often, uh, leaders are still trying to prove themselves to their parents or somebody in the past.

[00:28:48] They don’t go around thinking that, but that is their driver. Um, and because I do a lot of work with farmers in particular, often that’s right there in the yard with them because, you know, son is working with dad. So they are still trying to prove themselves to their dad. Um, that causes them to push themselves, work really hard, not take enough rest.

[00:29:08] The other thing is that, When you are a leader, you can feel a heavy sense of responsibility. And so I think it’s important for us to become very clear of what we truly are responsible for, because sometimes we spread that blanket way too wide. And we think we’re responsible for way more than what we are.

[00:29:30] So be clear on your role and your responsibilities and be clear on the peak, the team that you lead And your leaders responsibilities as well, because a people pleaser will often start to take on the responsibilities of their leader and the responsibilities of their team members. So you’ve got to notice that as soon as you can and come back to this is my area of responsibility and come from a place of empowerment rather than fixing.

[00:30:01] A lot of people pleases are control freaks, um, because it makes them feel safe. So if we control things, you know, for me, when I was anorexic, I was controlling food and exercise. To an extreme, because it just made me feel like things wouldn’t go out of control. And so we’re not good leaders when we’re controlling, we really have to trust, you know, in my physiotherapy business, I remember certain clients, I wouldn’t let my physios that worked for me do the work because I thought we’d lose the client.

[00:30:34] It was probably a little bit. I want to know a bit of ego there, I guess, thought that I was the only one that could do the best job. Um, and I realized that I wasn’t empowering my team, but I also wasn’t allowing myself any freedom as a business owner either to keep working on the business and in the business, which I see a lot of business owners doing.

[00:30:56] So, yeah, there’s some of the symptoms that show up for leaders.

[00:30:59] Rob Hills: It sounds like the culture that we are brought up into as kids in, as teenagers going through schooling systems and at home doesn’t necessarily serve us well when we get to the workplace where we have to, if we’re going to not be people pleasers, tell the truth, um, not trying people please all the time and try and be a little bit more straight down the line.

[00:31:20] So what can organizations or leaders even do to create that environment that discourages people pleasing and encourages that authentic self expression?

[00:31:29] Tracy Secombe: Yeah, that’s a fantastic question. Yeah. So in, um, one of the businesses I’m in now, we do performance reviews every six months. Um, but that we are not really, or that we’re not really reviewing performance.

[00:31:44] What we are really doing is having open, authentic conversations where we make it very clear that this is. This is an honesty session. Like we want to hear honestly how you feel. And we’re going to tell you honestly how we feel as well. But the caveat to that is that neither of us are allowed to be victims and neither of us are allowed to blame.

[00:32:11] So we’re owning how we feel. Sometimes when people first do my course and they start to give up people pleasing, and they learn about speaking my truth. They start saying these things that are critical of other people and I’m like, no, not that kind of truth, you know, what is your intention behind this truth?

[00:32:29] And so I think that’s really important is if we want to create. a safe space where people can be honest. It’s got to be for the betterment of everyone. Like the intention is that this will make this a better workspace. This will improve this relationship. This will improve the outcomes that this business is about.

[00:32:51] You know, if you think about any business. No matter how big or small it is, whether it’s corporate or whether it’s a small business, there is a core purpose for that business. And if everybody is clear on what that is, and everybody is being honest and open for the purpose of that core purpose. Then you will get alignment, um, within the team.

[00:33:16] Rob Hills: It sounds like psychological safety would be really important there, especially again, you know, for most people having a background where they’ve been people pleasing coming to the workplace. And then, you know, a leader comes to them and says, right, everybody, we’re going to tell the truth. Yeah. I imagine people must go, Oh, how am I going to do that?

[00:33:34] Like, how How much truth do I give a little bit of truth or, you know, the nice truth, little white lies. So how important is creating that psychological safety and what’s a good way for a leader to start that conversation?

[00:33:46] Tracy Secombe: To lead by example. I think that as a leader, it’s, it’s like parenting. Your kids do what you do, not what you tell them to do.

[00:33:55] And it’s the same with leadership. So I think that if a leader can be vulnerable, Is really powerful. My daughter works in corporate and one of her top leaders has taken a year off because his wife is unwell and he’s going to devote time to looking after the family and he was very vulnerable and shared that with the team and my daughter was so impressed by that, you know, because they can put these leaders up on pedestals as though they’re not a human and they don’t have any emotions and things outside of work don’t go wrong, you know, and.

[00:34:27] So that’s the policy that we have is that we’re very vulnerable. We share what goes well and what’s, you know, what’s working, but we also share what’s not working and where we’ve fallen down and where we feel like we can improve. I think sometimes as a leader, we have to, we feel like we have to show up as perfect in front of our teams to set that example.

[00:34:49] But I think if we show up as human, then we’re relatable and we lead by example, by telling the truth. When you have been holding on to a truth, and if you’ve got a relationship with a team member, for example, and you haven’t been giving them honest feedback, what I recommend that you do is that you first of all journal about it so that you get real clarity about the kindest and most honest way to present the information with the most positive intention so that There is a positive outcome because if you just blurt it out in the spare of the moment, it can be emotionally charged and it can be ineffective.

[00:35:30] And you might rewrite that a few times before you really feel comfortable with it. And then ask yourself, why am I telling this? What is my intention? And you want to make sure that it is. For the empowerment of the person, and it’s not for you to be right, you know, there is sometimes we have to check ourselves.

[00:35:50] Do I just want to be right here? Or is this really going to empower this person and improve their experience in the business as well as the business? Um, and then I would wait until you’re feeling really good. And you can see that they’re feeling really good. The timing of the communication is so important because emotion really impacts perception.

[00:36:14] You want to give them the best opportunity to really perceive your pure intent. And if you capture them when they’re stressed and upset, no matter how well you deliver it, it won’t be received well.

[00:36:29] Rob Hills: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s see if we can build a little mini framework around this to help people who are putting their hand up right now and saying, yeah, I’m a people pleaser and I want to make a change.

[00:36:41] You’ve talked about introspection and you’ve talked about journaling. Is that where you’d have people start? Like, is that, you know, step number one for people? to then get onto this path of, okay, becoming more aware of what my people pleasing tendencies are and then how I can overcome those.

[00:36:59] Tracy Secombe: Yes. The first step is always awareness.

[00:37:02] So step one in my program and in the book is wake up so that you notice it. And it’s always up to you. Like you might notice it, but you And go, I was people pleasing in that moment. And you might go, but you know what? I feel fine about that. And I’m going to keep that. Or you might notice an emotion that doesn’t feel good.

[00:37:24] And then ask yourself, why am I feeling this? And then you realize, oh, it’s because I was worried about what that person thinks. Well, that’s not making me feel good. So obviously that’s not serving me. That’s not working. You always get to decide, is this making my life better or worse? And then you can think, okay, I don’t know what they think.

[00:37:45] What’s the point in worrying about what they think? They’re probably not thinking about me at all. You know, and you just, you just get better and better at it. You know, like it’s just gets less and less. It doesn’t change overnight. So if you have realized realistic expectations, you realize that the awareness just helps you to gradually change.

[00:38:05] Rob Hills: Yep. And so as our awareness gets better, I imagine at first, maybe it looks like journaling for most people because they can reflect on the situation once they’ve had a little bit of a chance to put some distance between that initial, you know, event and then where they are now. But I imagine as they get better at this, they’ll start to pick it up in the moment and they might notice a little bit more and go, this may be a opportunity to try something different.

[00:38:29] Does that usually help player? Yeah.

[00:38:31] Tracy Secombe: Yeah, yeah. So they’re most of our behavior is automated. So it happens so quickly that it’s reactional. And so if we’re working on a new belief system in the background before the event, then we’re more likely to have a different reaction. If that change hasn’t happened yet.

[00:38:49] And we’re still having the automated reaction. We get the awareness more quickly after the reaction. So it’s not an hour later, we realize it’s like kind of almost while we’re doing it. And then we can recover more quickly. And sometimes depending on how close we are to the person, we can say, Oh my God, I’m so sorry.

[00:39:08] That overreaction wasn’t about you. You know, That was me, you know, depending on how well you know them, but the more work you do, the more your automated responses or triggers will change. So yeah, it’s both, it’s both in the moment and away from the moment.

[00:39:25] Rob Hills: So after we do that first step where we wake up, what’s the next thing?

[00:39:29] Is it, I imagine it must be different in different circumstances. Like there might, depending on the way it plays out, you mentioned there, um, if you overreact, you can sort of say, Oh, sorry. Yep. That was not about you. That was me. Is there a more defined second step for people? Is there a list of questions they should be asked themselves?

[00:39:46] Tracy Secombe: Yeah. The second step is when you are aware of, you know, why you do what you do, and think what you think is to actually look at your life and check in to see how much of what you are doing started because of your people pleasing tendencies. Because often we need to spring clean our lives and what we constantly do.

[00:40:11] So for example, numbing techniques. So a lot of people who have been on this emotional rollercoaster, and in the end they’re so exhausted from being up and down emotionally, they just want to numb themselves. So they’ll do that through scrolling, overeating, drinking, smoking, you know, just. binge watching binge, you know, so it’s just noticing these behaviors that we have.

[00:40:37] And now we understand why we do it. Noticing whether we’re looking after ourselves, like, is health a value of ours? And are we actually making time for our health? Or are we so busy putting everyone else first that we don’t take time to prepare good food? You know, we’re not exercising, we’re not meditating or doing something relaxing and peaceful for ourselves.

[00:41:00] Those things are really going to a require you to put yourself first to actually make time for that change, but it will also give you a more calm mind. which is easier to respond to life rather than react based on your people pleasing habits.

[00:41:21] Rob Hills: Yeah. And as I think about this, once people start seeing a couple of people pleasing habits, they might really notice there’s a lot of reasons why I’ve been doing things that relate to this and are, you know, Wow, I didn’t even realize that.

[00:41:34] So I imagine it can really blow out for people. And they’re like, Oh, look at all the different things I’m doing because of this.

[00:41:39] Tracy Secombe: Yeah, absolutely. When I did this sort of detox process myself, that’s why I walked away from one of the businesses. But it’s also why I started to say no to some things that I had always said, said yes to, because I didn’t want to let people down.

[00:41:53] And I remember what Once I had said yes to something, but I really didn’t want to do it. And I went back and said, I’m really sorry. I’ve changed my mind. And that was huge for me to do. Like I was taught that when you commit to something, that’s it you’re committed. And I was so proud of myself for doing it.

[00:42:10] And I was scared to do it, but I was also so relieved because it was going to take away so much attention from the things that were important to me. And it just. It validates yourself to, to say, this is what’s important to me and I’m going to make choices based on what is important to me rather than trying to keep everybody else happy.

[00:42:30] Rob Hills: So what would you say to the person who’s sitting here and going, I can see this, I’m doing this, I’m a people pleaser, but, and this is the sticking point, right, I’m, I’m worried about that feeling of guilt or shame when I say to someone, no, and I like step up and go, that’s not how I’m going to do it anymore.

[00:42:49] What would you say to them?

[00:42:51] Tracy Secombe: I would say that that’s completely normal to feel that guilt is a very big emotion for people pleases. And it’s the reason that we keep doing things we don’t want to do, or we don’t do things that we do want to do. Um, I remember there was a Pilates class that I loved at five 30 and I just thought for about two years, I can’t do a class at five 30.

[00:43:13] That’s what time I’m cooking dinner. And then I thought one day, I love this class. I’m going to ask the family to cook dinner on a Monday night. like, yeah, you know, I just had so much guilt around and it was just crazy. Like they just laughed at me about it. But I just would say to you, if you feel like that at the moment, don’t jump yet.

[00:43:34] Like, don’t force yourself to do something that you are ready. Instead, just start to be kind to your, to yourself in really small ways. So you know when you have just finished washing the dishes and now you’re gonna take the. Close out of the washing machine, just sit down and close your eyes and take three deep breaths and just notice how lovely it is to just be there for yourself for a moment.

[00:43:58] Like just introduce some self kindness rather than to jump into the hardest thing, which is saying no to someone that will cause guilt, because you’ve got to kind of balance yourself with these nurturing emotions to flood out those. guilt and negative emotions before you try to tackle those things.

[00:44:19] Rob Hills: Yeah, absolutely. And I can imagine that, um, jumping in, you know, both feet first is probably not the best way to do this. So maybe taking some little baby steps to start with, um, seeing how it feels and then building as you go is probably a better way.

[00:44:34] Tracy Secombe: Yeah. Yeah. And, and get comfortable with it in your own mind through your journaling before you present it to the outside world.

[00:44:42] It’s a shock. Like, I remember when I told my husband, I don’t like shoot them up movies. He’s like, what do you mean? He goes, you love them. I said, I don’t because I’ve watched them. But poor him, he didn’t know he completely thought I loved them because I was such a good actor because I just wanted to spend time with him and never spoke up.

[00:45:01] So, you know, you’ve got to, got to realize that you’ve trained people to accept what you’ve been saying, whether it’s been true or not. So you’ve got to be kind when you start to speak up and say something else.

[00:45:12] Rob Hills: Yeah, absolutely. Tracy, this has been such an interesting conversation. What’s one question that I didn’t ask today that maybe you’d hoped that I would have asked?

[00:45:21] And if I did ask it, how would you have answered?

[00:45:24] Tracy Secombe: Um, what is the root cause of people pleasing? And my answer is you have conditional acceptance of yourself. And so you like yourself when Dot, dot, dot. Somebody else likes you, you get things right, things are going well, someone else is happy. And if you can develop a like towards yourself, dare I say, a love towards yourself that doesn’t rely on conditions and you could just like who you are no matter what, your whole life would change.

[00:45:59] Rob Hills: Wow. That would have been a great question. I’m glad you asked it. Thank you so much, Tracy, for coming on the podcast today. Uh, thank you for writing the book. Thank you for coaching leaders and just generally putting this work out into the world. If people want to connect with you more and find out more what you do, or even buy the book and start their own journey on becoming a recovering people, please, or a work in progress. How can they do that?

[00:46:21] Tracy Secombe: So you can find the book from People Pleaser to Soul Pleaser on Amazon. You can also follow me on Soul Pleaser on Facebook and Instagram, and you can learn about my coaching on my website, which is my name, tracysecombe.com.au

[00:46:37] Rob Hills: Amazing. Thanks so much, Tracy. Appreciate it.

[00:46:40] Tracy Secombe: You’re welcome.