What is People Pleasing?

For those unfamiliar with the term, what is people pleasing?

People pleasing is a behavior characterized by the tendency to prioritize the needs of others over your own needs. While the desire to please others is a natural part of human interaction, people-pleasing becomes problematic when it leads to emotional distress and impairment in one’s functioning. 

It’s important to note that it is a complex behavior with varying degrees of severity. Recognizing the signs can be a valuable step towards developing healthier ways to connect with others and yourself. 


What are signs a person might be a people pleaser?

The signs of being of a people-pleaser include the following:

  • Having a hard time saying “no” – They go out of their way to comply with requests and demands even if it means sacrificing their own well-being or priorities.
  • Having an excessive fear of disapproval, being rejected, or perceived in a negative fashion. This fear leads to constantly seeking reassurance or approval from others. 
  • A tendency to avoid conflict at all costs. People pleasers struggle with being assertive and communicating their needs to others. They may even change their opinions to better fit the situation in their efforts to avoid a disagreement. 
  • Difficulties with setting boundaries. People pleasers may inadvertently take on more responsibilities than what they can handle, leading to burnout and feelings of resentment. The thought of disappointing someone is often accompanied by intense feelings of distress.  
  • Experiencing a loss of identity. Because of their tendency to focus on the needs of others, they may unintentionally neglect their own needs and lose sight of their values and aspirations. 
  • Having an exaggerated sense of responsibility over the well-being of others. People pleasers may believe that it is their job to make others happy at all times. 

signs of people pleasing

What are some of the potential disadvantages of people pleasing behaviors (particularly in the workplace)?

People pleasers are at high risk for burnout because of their tendency to take on more responsibility than what they can handle and difficulties in setting boundaries. Their fear of criticism may interfere with their ability to share their unique ideas or propose alternate suggestions to problems, hindering their creativity and potential for innovation. 

Further, they experience difficulties negotiating raises or promotions, which can negatively impact their professional growth. Finally, they may be taken advantage of because of their struggles with standing up for themselves and saying “no.”  

While in their personal lives, it becomes difficult for them to develop relationships based on authenticity because of the constant need to please others. Their fear of disappointing others influences their ability to be honest. 

What are some tips people can use to break their people pleasing habits?

The good news is that it is possible to break free from people pleasing habits. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s a gradual process and, like any new habit, it takes time and practice. 

The first step is to notice and pay attention to what you are doing. Self-awareness is a powerful tool. Once you learn to recognize triggers for people pleasing behaviors, you are ready to select another course of action. 

Acceptance is another valuable tool in breaking this habit. Remember that not everybody will agree with you and that is okay.  Coming to terms with this fact can be liberating. Focus on building self-confidence, rather than seeking external validation. Learn to celebrate your achievements and keep track of your strengths no matter how big or small they may be. Low-esteem is often a motivating factor for people pleasing behaviors. It becomes easier to be assertive and set limits once you feel good about yourself. Finally, engage in self-care and make time for activities that bring you joy.

Any other insights you have on the signs of people pleasing, how people pleasing can impact your professional career and experience, and/or how to break the people pleasing habit. 

Remind yourself that your worth is not tied to pleasing others. Focus on paying attention to values, aspirations, and needs. Your ability to have a successful and, most importantly, fulfilling career is directly related to your ability to stay true to what is important to you. It is possible to find the right balance between being cooperative and a good team player, while at the same time respecting one’s own limits and boundaries. Don’t forget to be patient and compassionate with yourself along the way.

About the Author

Port Jefferson Therapist Near Me

Dr. Vanessa Gomes, PhD

As a CBT therapist in Port Jefferson, NY, I help you rediscover your joy & thrive with practical tools for lasting change.

My approach blends the precision of science with the warmth of human connection. I know that opening up and seeking help can be daunting, but I’m here to provide a non-judgmental and safe space where your story can be heard and understood.

When you are no longer weighed down by self-doubt, anxiety, depression, and trauma, you radiate confidence and self-assuredness. This is the life you deserve, and it’s within your reach.

I am currently accepting new in-person clients in Port Jefferson, NY, and online across Long Island and New York State.

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