Been writing about this a lot lately tryign to comea up with methodologies for teaching folks how to leave this behind. I'm stuck...Perhaps this is Jon Newton's territory. I will admit....people pleasing sort of enrages me...sort of tied to that damsel-in-distress Amy Cooper pulled in central park.
I've never really been completely successful in coaching clients who won't deal with this...and in great part, I'm sure it's because it enrages me...my stuff...
It feels like an indirect way to try to control me...and I'm so allergic to passive aggressiveness...it also causes me to lose respect for a person who can't stand up for what's right...I think it's related to my justice and speaking your truth emotional chord. People who are "nice" to please others have perpetuated such heinous crimes against mankind. These are the people who never stood up for what was wrong because they were too busy trying to be liked. I admit it's a trigger and had to recently refer a client to someone else because I'm not your coach if you need someone to approve your "good girl" syndrome. As a matter of fact my total impatience with it could do a client more harm than good.
Besides teaching folks the nuts and bolts about how to rewrite their stories with boundaries, I'm not sure what else there is to do...but writing about it is a start.
What People Pleasers Are Dying to Have
By Ann Stoneson
Sometimes people say to me,
“Ann, I’m a nice person.
I just like to do nice things for others.
I’m big on being kind, just because.
What’s so bad about that?
Am I a people pleaser?”
If, from time to time, you do nice things for other people– no strings attached– you aren’t a people pleaser.
But before you pat yourself on the back for being so nice, take some time to turn over a few stones with me.
You may have some motivations driving you that you aren’t fully aware of. (Most of us do.)
People pleasers have strings attached to their niceness.
And most of the time, they don’t even realize it.
What do you think people pleasers want?
You might say, “Well, they want to be liked. They want approval.”
And you’d be right.
People pleasers are nice because…
+ They want you to like them.
+ They want you to approve of their choices.
+ They want to avoid conflict with you.
But it goes deeper than that.
Why do they want approval?
Why must they be liked at any cost?
Their niceness is a way of exerting control over relationships.
People pleasers are dying to have control.
If they’re so nice, you can’t get angry at them, right?
They’re so pleasant and helpful, of course you like them.
Of course you are friends! Right?
Really, all the nice things that people pleasers do are designed to control the situation.
Remember when I talked about where people pleasing comes from?
People pleasers are often raised in a certain kind of environment growing up.
Love and care from caregivers is inconsistent.
All this niceness and pleasing behavior is an adaptation to that sort of upbringing.
A sort of “Well, here’s how I can make sure my needs are met” kind of scenario.
When you think about it, this desire for control, it makes a lot of sense.
That’s what people pleasers want?
Yes. People pleasers are trying to control things.
To be fair, just about everybody wants control of their lives.
This is why, sometimes, when you’re a people pleaser, people get really mad at you and fed up, even though you’re being so nice!
It’s because, at some level, your “niceness” is not welcome.
Maybe it even feels intrusive.
At some level, people may feel controlled by all of your efforts.
Most people pleasers are not aware of their desire for control.
They usually don’t start their day by saying, “I’ll be extra nice today, as I am every day, in my efforts to control all of my relationships.” Nope.
If you ask people pleasers how they feel about conflict and anger, they’ll agree that they hate those things.
And they’ve probably been called a control freak before, by someone close to them.
But they don’t tend to see themselves as controlling. They’re just nice people! That’s what they’d say.
So, the nice things that people pleasers do aren’t out of the goodness of their hearts. Not really.
And it’s not because the people pleaser doesn’t want to give wholeheartedly and openly. They’d very much like to be able to do that.
The fact is that they can’t be nice and loving in a true way, most of the time. Their gifts and kindnesses are a little bit false, because they are offered up under duress.
This is because people pleasers are operating under the deeply held belief that if they stop being nice, people will stop caring about them.
Or people will become angry and reject them.
Or there will be big, big, conflict.
And so it is with niceness and people pleasers.
And people pleasers feel they must be nice. It’s not really a choice, but more a way of being.
If you’re being nice because you desperately want to be liked, or because you want to avoid conflict, your niceness is sort of muddied by these other agendas, whether or not you realize it.
As always, knowing which changes to make isn’t the hardest part of change. It’s actually doing it, and sustaining those changes over time, in spite of the resistance and backlash that may come.
Helping people pleasers is what I do! So, if you’re in Austin, Texas, and you’re looking for a counselor who helps with people-pleasing, drop me a line. I offer free, half hour consultations in person at the office, and I’d be glad to set one up for you.
is a Tony-winning producer/writer/actor & CEO of TheDreamUnLocked: Boutique Coaching for Actors, Writers & Dreamers