4 Ways People Pleasers Can Help Themselves

Who are people-pleasers? People-pleasers are eager to please others and unfortunately, in the process, forget to take their own needs into consideration. Confrontation is scary for those who fear conflict, however if they do not express themselves, they will just feel bad and disempowered. Do you have people-pleasing patterns? Read on for 4 ways people-pleasers can help themselves.

Aware but don’t know how to stop


Halfway through a backpacking trip along the Continental Divide with Outward Bound, two adults sat around a campfire and asked the teenagers on the trip to articulate how much contribution, percentage-wise, they felt they were giving to the group. There were 10 of us so in theory, each should have said 10%. I said 10%. At the end of the circle, the leaders said that they had observed one person doing more than 10%. They said this person was scrubbing pots while other members were socializing, even if the responsibility calendar showed that it was not their night for clean-up post dinner. They said this person was contributing more like 60 or 70%. My face burned as I eventually realized that they were talking about me. I was embarrassed and felt ashamed for “automatically” jumping in when others were not completing their assigned tasks. It was a good opportunity for me to become aware of this innate inkling to do whatever it takes to ‘keep the peace’ – however despite knowing that I had these conflict-avoiding tendencies I don’t think my teenager self knew how to stop over-extending and prevent this from happening again in the future.

Aware and figured out how to stop

In my early 20s relationships, I naturally deferred to others on most decisions and I habitually contributed a majority effort. Just like in Outward Bound, my giving percentage was off balance, but the difference is, I not only realized that I was allowing this to happen, I also decided to cease it from continuing by initiating new behaviors. And that’s how you stop being a doormat – awareness of these tendencies plus decision to improve communication and end unhealthy relationships, if necessary. As this article says, “if [‘leeches’] aren’t doing anything in return, and you aren’t benefiting from that relationship – it’s time to cut things off” – which is what I did. Then I made a promise to be honest with myself and found my voice, becoming a better communicator and enjoying healthy, balanced interpersonal relationships.

4 Things I Learned



1. Be aware of natural tendencies to please others.  It’s okay when: at first, you feel like the Mixed Messager

People-pleasers who are changing their ways often seem like they are sending mixed messages: their mission was seemingly to make others happy, but deep down, ultimately they still have their own needs and wants (that they previously ditched to make others happy) but eventually still need to be fulfilled. Once a people-pleaser decides to start standing up for their own needs, the other person may feel confused by this mixed message and change in their confident communication style. The more people are aware of their tendencies to try to please others, the better they can reign this in to own a more balanced outlook and remember to take care of themselves, which will gain appreciation and respect.


2. Have self-respect. Recognize: Disrespectful Duds

There are many events that just happen every day and regardless of the way we will feel about them, they are inevitable. It’s the reactions to these happenings that demonstrate self-respect and empowerment. When someone does something disrespectful, tell him or her how it made you feel. Hold their feet to the fire. Stand up for yourself. That’s how you change from feeling bad about something that happened, to feeling good.


3. Give to others and yourself. Learn from: I-Me-My

I once dated someone who said, “I do whatever I want, all the time”. At first I found this egocentric and not very thoughtful. But, the more I considered it; I realized that small doses of what seems like selfishness for people-pleasers are healthy and empowering.


4. Listen to and speak up for your feelings. Watch out for: the Feelings Fiend

This person attempts to tell you how you feel, how you should feel, or how you previously felt. No. Your feelings are like a secret foreign language that only one person studied in the entire world, you. No one else has the “textbook” or Masters degree in your feelings but you.

Lastly, remember that there are many ways to stop people-pleasing including getting professional support.

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Kelly Christiansen

A top columnist at MsCareerGirl, marketing guru Kelly Christiansen has 10+ years of strategic leadership experience and is a Senior Marketing Strategist on the Health Care team at Kahler Slater, an architecture firm in Wisconsin. An avid reader, runner, and recipe experimenter, you can follow Kelly on twitter @kellymc247

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