People pleasers

Wanting another’s approval is healthy. Needing it is sick.

You can’t please all the people even some of the time.

“The disease to please,” as psychologist Harriet Braiker likes to call it, is a form of addiction. Just as a drug addict seeks drugs, a people pleaser seeks approval.

Are you a people pleaser?

  1. Say yes too much and no too little.
  2. Find it difficult to express your true feelings.
  3. Feel devastated when others don’t like you.
  4. Don’t speak up when you think others will disagree.
  5. Fear rejection.
  6. Take criticism personally.

Leading through the need to please

  1. Accept that others won’t always like you.
  2. Embrace disagreement and learn from it.
  3. Press through resistance.
  4. Preserve relationships even when you say no.

Overcoming addiction to people pleasing

  1. Don’t swing from people pleasing to people offending.
  2. Begin expressing your personal feelings and priorities with friends. Slowly branch out to others.
  3. Satisfy your need to please by intentionally helping others with short projects that don’t distract for fundamental responsibilities and priorities.
  4. Believe the people who count will accept you for who you are not for what you do.
  5. Delay saying yes. If you’re afraid to say no, say, “Let me get back to you.” Or, “I need to check my schedule.” Don’t let delay become avoidance. Let it be your opportunity to learn how to say no.
  6. Don’t make long excuses when you say no. “I’d love to help but I can’t this time,” says enough.
  7. Practice saying no with friends.

Here’s a Tuesday leadership focus. Identify one unhealthy “people pleasing” behavior and replace it with gentle assertiveness.


How would you help a person overcome the need to please?