WholeLife Matrix: Relationships

“You can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself.” ― Ricky Nelson


It is good to want to do nice things for others, but people-pleasers take this too far and please others at their own expense. In this article, we explore why some people are people-pleasers, what some of the signs are of being a people-pleaser, and how to overcome being one.


Why Are Some People People-Pleasers?

Here are some reasons:

1. A person may be taught people-pleasing behavior as they are growing up and they can also learn it from their environment when they are older.

2. Fear that something bad will happen if they don’t please someone. For example, an employee may feel like he always has to please his boss, otherwise he may lose his job. The employee may think that he can’t take any time off because he always has to be at work pleasing his boss.

3. Believing that pleasing someone will lead to something good, like a promotion.

4. Fear that if they do not people-please, people will think or say negative things about them. Shy people are often people-pleasers for this reason because a shy person cares too much about what people might think about them.

5. Fear of conflict. People-pleasers do not like confrontation and would rather do whatever someone wants in order to avoid any confrontation.


What Are The Signs of a People-Pleaser?

People-pleasers have a hard time saying no because they are afraid of disappointing someone and, as a result, being disapproved of. Because of this, they may also have a difficult time making changes when changes need to be made and may have a hard time speaking up. For example, they may have a business and be afraid of raising their prices because of fear of what customers or clients will say. People pleasers also tend to be very apologetic, especially when they can’t commit to something, and they work hard to prove themselves to avoid any criticism and confrontation.


How Can We Overcome Being a People-Pleaser?

It is clear that people-pleasing is based on assumptions about what people might think or do and based on fear about what may happen if the people-pleaser does not please. This is not a healthy state of mind; it reinforces low self-esteem and gives too much control over you to others. This can result in people taking advantage you. So, although you may think that pleasing others can get you ahead, in reality it can hold you back because you put your own needs on the backburner.

How do we overcome being a people-pleaser? To stop the cycle of people-pleasing behavior, we can do activities that raise our self-esteem. We also need to recognize our own self-worth and the value of our time. We need to realize that we shouldn’t care about what other people think so much because most people are preoccupied with themselves and their own self-interests, and not preoccupied with us.

Learning to say “no” to things that you don’t really need to do is important because it can help to prevent stress, exhaustion and negative emotion. Be firm when saying no. You might say that you are already overcommitted. By declining new commitments, you can focus on successfully completing the commitments you already have with enough time to do them well.


In the WholeLife Matrix, we list four main areas that we should share with those we interact with. These include the following:

1. Respect
2. Accountability / Responsibility
3. Communication
4. Common Interest


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Ralph White
Business Coach, Author, Artist & CEO
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