Maaher Sayeed

Blogger / Writer,


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Are you a “People Pleaser”?

Are you more inclined towards doings things to please others? Do you thrive on pleasing others and meeting or exceeding their expectations?

I believe that we are more likely to go above and beyond and do things to please the ones who matter most to us than take the extra effort to please our own wishes. People are selfless when in love, very generous when giving to our children, highly motivated to please a coach or an inspirational boss at work, or often more kind and charitable to please their Gods. Some do several great things in their effort to please their peers, parents or love.

The opposing argument applies to those who loose their own identity trying to live up to other people’s expectations or even extend themselves too far for people who are perhaps not really worth the trouble. This often happens because they have trouble saying NO or are emotionally trapped by the acceptance and adulation that they get from pleasing others. Many Celebrities and Artists thrive on pleasing people.

Is pleasing people a positive behaviour? I understand that like all things there is a limit and a point where you need to stop and say NO. But it is more common for a person to end up doing greater things in life and achieving success when they try to please those who they are inspired by or please a higher value for their opinion.

Do people pleasers make a better world?

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    Dec 19 2012: There is a difference between wanting to please those you love and care about and wanting to please everyone. Pleasing those you love is normal and healthy. Trying to please everyone is pathological.

    There is also a difference between pleasing those you love and care about and being validated by the experience of pleasing. Something called co-dependence. For instance, I feel great when I can make those I love happy, but even if they were not happy, that would not make me a bad person.

    No I am not a people pleaser. I don't even want to try.

    I just do my best to please my family and those I love and care for. I will do my best with the rest but if they are not pleased, oh well.
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    Dec 19 2012: It is better to strive to do the right thing; that is, giving honour to whom honour is due, love and goodwill for all humanity, time and attention for our loved ones.
    Genuine love, care and concern should be our goal; not the show or appearances. It is good to give to someone who is genuinely in need, but one is not expected to fund the habits of a drug addict because one wants to be 'good'.

    Appearances and showy forms of generousity and good behaviour, without a heart of love, makes the 'people pleaser' only slightly better than con men.
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      Dec 20 2012: I agree. Very true. But we can be genuine and please people with honest intentions and especially to those who matter to us. Dont you think that such genuine intentions with reasonable and balanced thinking on who and why we choose to please would contribute towards building a better world?
  • Dec 24 2012: I am a people pleaser to a fault. I always week to take care of others and often neglect myself. It's something that I have just started to understand. I am slowly but surely realizing that a happy me is better for me and those in my life.
  • Dec 20 2012: I don't classify myself as a people pleaser, I do things for myself. But this does not mean I won't help others if its along the way, or I am bored.

    I mostly stand my ground and keep moving in the direction I want, not what other people tell me
  • Dec 20 2012: Good question. I think people pleasers are more accepted by groups, and care more about this acceptance than others. There is an aspect of "it is better to give than receive" in this concept and there are those that genuinely get more satisfaction from helping others than by helping themselves (volunteers, random act of kindness, etc.). Society, religions, and similar groups identify this behavior as the right way to live, although it is controlling in that loss of ego would reduce competition for those are highly type A personalities. Sometimes the adulation for selfless behavior is the only adulation or attention a person might expect, true or not.

    I think you say NO when it takes more from you than you are comfortable giving, or you start seeing your selfless behavior as an expectation. Different thresholds for this however, some selfless folks will blame themselves if a selfless act is somehow not noticed or appreciated.

    Selflessness might also be a way to cope with injustice, bullying, or confrontation, with the idea that defusing a situation with a selfless act might reduce the chances of a confrontation or lead to a favorable outcome. Some would rather adopt humility at any level than face a confrontation. On the flip side, a selfless act might disarm an opponent causing them to let their guard down or create some other strategic advantage for the perpetrator. Selfless act also tend to surprise, unbalance or genuinely confuse the high type A personalities sometimes.

    I think any form of positive action makes the world a better place. Such an action by one has the capacity to create a good feeling in both giver and receiver, and often by those observing the events. There are many LDS commercials on TV where this is actually what they use as advertising.

    If artists can use this feeling as a source of adrenaline or inspiration, more power to them. They have found a cheap way to add beauty to life.

    Like most other things, moderation and common sense apply.
  • Dec 20 2012: This question is trickier than it appears.

    Was Mother Theresa a people pleaser? Was she admirable?

    I agree with Feyisayo Anjorin, that our actions should be guided by principles, we should strive to do what is right. In many cases, the right thing to do is to please others. Sometimes, the right thing means standing alone in opposition to all others.

    Generally, I think I do try to please others, but that is not the primary guiding principle. I know that I have made important decisions that pleased no one, but the decisions were the right thing to do.
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    Dec 19 2012: There's nothing wrong with a genuine desire to please. It's much better than studiously being a people displeaser. People who seek to displease, automatically devalue their own intelligence as well as their own regard for the intelligence of others. It is pointless talking to someone who only listen to and respect themselves.

    Empathic and respectful, or sociopathic and bigoted?

    Tough choice.
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    Dec 20 2012: Yes.
    We have to be people pleasers appropriately.
    It is SYMBIOSIS.
    Otherwise, human can not survive.

    (For SYMBIOSIS, see the 1st article, points 4-8, at
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    Dec 19 2012: Yes one should be as obsequious as possible.
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      Dec 19 2012: Oh my! I haven't heard that word since Steve Martin. "Obsequious, purple, and clairvoyant!" Thanks for the smile.
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    Dec 19 2012: Sometimes I orient toward pleasing myself, sometimes toward pleasing others. I would doubt anyone is 100% one way or the other.

    I usually think there is no contradiction, that the things one does to make life better for oneself make life better for other people as well. For example, if I buy a beautiful painting, it pleases me because I get the painting, but it pleases the artist because they get money and get to go on painting.

    Celebrities may have a big streak of people-pleasing, but they also look out for #1, living in mansions, having expensive cars, etc.
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    Gail .

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    Dec 19 2012: No - people pleasers make a more dangerous world. That isn't to say that we are not enhanced by giving kindness when it is appropriate.

    I don't achieve in order to please those who inspire, and I do not acknowledge that anyone has a higher value than me. I please MYSELF in order to make ME a better person. Sometimes, pleasing myself involves great work on my part, but the work is part of the pleasure IN THE END, and it ceases to be work.
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    Dec 19 2012: Maaher, No I do not care what people think. Did your wife get the flowers and did you recieve the tickets to the opera . The car will pick you up at 6 PM and there are backstage passes in the envelope.

    I know we have never met but I really want to be pals ... but no pressure. Only if you want to be buds. I have a summer vacation planned ... when can you get off ......

    From your best pal ... hope we meet soon ...... Bob.