Dec 08

6 Undeniable Signs You are Becoming a People Pleaser


people pleaser

You don’t have to get everyone’s approval to prove your self-worth

“Say no to everything, so you can say yes to the one thing.”

― Richie Norton

One of the bad habits I have that I can’t seem to shake off no matter what I do is that of trying to win other people’s approval.  I’ve tried to get rid of this habit for a long time now and no matter how much I try to remind myself to say “No” and put my happiness above others when the situation calls for it, I still end up in the wrong end of the bed.

We all want to please people for a variety of reasons.  It can be because of recognition, peer pressure, or most of the time, it’s because we don’t want to be criticized.  We want everyone to like us and in doing so, we try to please them by putting their joy above ours even if sometimes, we already feel miserable deep inside.

I used to work for a boss who I tried to please by always volunteering to do something that’s not supposed to be my responsibility.  I wanted so much to be promoted and recognized so I did whatever my boss said and I never said “No” even if I was feeling overwhelmed with all the things I have in my plate.  I stayed up late, even brought work home in some instances if only to prove that I was worthy.

Come year-end, guess what?  I was not promoted.  I was so disappointed because I thought I won my boss over by being proactive.

We all have a people pleaser in all of us and if you are not aware, here are some clear signs that you are becoming one:

1. Over-Apologizing – I understand that as a person raised to have good values, we always try our best to not step on anyone’s toes or offend someone but there are circumstances when we do so rather unintentionally.  It can be because of a bad joke or an insensitive remark and most of the time, a simple apology is all it takes.  However, some of us can’t seem to just let that go and continuously apologize even in passing even if the other person already forgave us.

I know because I was this person once upon a time.  I can’t seem to get rid of the guilt even if the other person has already moved on and it’s all because I don’t want that person to think or speak ill of me.

2. Fear of Offending Someone – this is almost similar to the first sign but I don’t know if it’s just me but have you ever felt so paranoid that you might have offended somebody?  It’s like you said something you think was harmless but then you realize that someone who was listening may have been offended by what you said.  This isn’t bad at all but if you always feel this way every time, you’re probably a people pleaser.

3. Fear of Trying Something New – one of the possible signs of being a people pleaser is that of staying in your comfort zone.  Why?  Because of your fear of the unknown.  You feel reluctant to try something new because of the possibility of failing and in doing so, you are afraid of what people will say about you if and when you fail.

4. Fear of Failure – being a perfectionist says a lot about a person.  Apart from having great attention to detail, it can also mean that you are afraid of failure because you don’t want people to look at you any lesser and because failure makes you look weak or inferior.  You believe people expects highly of you and one wrong move can spell your doom.

This is the reason I’m thankful for my parents because I didn’t feel any pressure that I had to live up to a certain expectation.  They just let me be who I am which is how I am with my kids now.

5. You Let People Go Beyond Your Boundariess – another sign of being a people pleaser is if you are letting  people go beyond your boundaries.  Boundaries are keys to happiness,  By having personal boundaries, you are making people aware how far you can tolerate their actions.  If you don’t set personal boundaries, people will run over you and take advantage of you.  Not to mention, disrespect you.

Being nice is admirable.  But being too nice will make you miserable.  You need to learn to say “No” and be able to tell people if they’re going beyond your personal space.

6. You’re Trying to be Someone You’re Not – I am a dignified nerd and I am certainly proud of being one.  I don’t go out for drinks or go bar-hopping at night.  I’m a home buddy and my only out-door sport is basketball.

You can be somebody else but the most important thing is that you are proud of who you are.  Don’t try to pretend you are someone else just to please people.  Don’t give in to peer pressure.  If you are new in the company and your new colleagues enjoy gambling on weekends, you don’t have to come with them if you’re not into gambling.

You can’t expect to live a happy, fulfilling life is you trying to please everyone.  You have to own your life and live it the way you want to and not how others want you to for in the end, your happiness and success are all in your hands and not other people’s.

Are you a people pleaser?  Are you becoming one based on the signs mentioned?

I would love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment or feedback below.


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Noel Rosos

About Noel Rosos

Noel is a husband, father, author, performance coach and self-proclaimed FAILUROLOGIST who helps business owners and struggling individuals convert their failures into opportunities through inspiring blog posts, life-changing books and exceptional one-on-one coaching sessions


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  1. Pamina Mullins

    Well done Noel for admitting that this is a problem for you. People-pleasing is such a common form of self sabotage – and from my experience with my clients, it can have such a destructive ripple effect on your life!

    Learning to set healthy personal boundaries is one of the most effective ways to break free of the negative impact of stress. All successful leaders have mastered this skill.

    If you would like to kick the people-pleasing addiction for good I will gladly help you http://breakfreeandreclaimyourlife.com/

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      Thanks for your comment Pamina! Yes, I struggled with people-pleasing for some time and admittedly, I still do from time to time. We just have to be conscious of our actions and learn to say NO if the situation calls for it.

      I will definitely check this link out. Thanks for sharing!

  2. pip walker

    Thank you Noel – I have always been a people pleaser and have only recently learnt to start limit setting and putting boundaries in place. Thank you for the reminder that “being nice is admirable but being too nice will make you miserable” – so true. Something I preach to my clients about but need to continue to practise more myself.

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      As I am Pip! Sometimes, unconsciously, I still try to please people more than I should and still end up feeling miserable no matter how hard I try not too and yes, I do preach this a lot too. I guess that’s because that’s how we were brought up and that’s what we’re made of that’s why it can be hard to stop since it’s second nature to us already.

      Thank you for your comment!

  3. Pamina Mullins

    Well done Noel and Pip for your admirable boundary setting progress!

    Think about how many repetitions it took for the people-pleasing program to be installed….so yes – great progress:-) And isn’t it freeing?

    Here’s something you might find helpful too http://breakfreeandreclaimyourlife.com/uncategorized/20-good-reasons-to-use-this-password-to-freedom

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      definitely liberating!

  4. Pamina Mullins

    You know what the most important turning point for me in kicking the people pleasing habit was? When I felt that old habitual “yes of course” response about to kick in I asked myself “why is pleasing this person, more important than pleasing me?”

    1. Noel Rosos
      Noel Rosos

      I can relate to what you said Pamina. That’s the most important question one can ask on situations like that. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Noel Rosos
    Noel Rosos


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