Do you know a people pleaser? Top psychologist Dr Nicola Davies reveals all
Meet the people pleaser, the proverbial ‘doormat’ or pushover.
Their deep-seated insecurity and low self-esteem make them very compliant and easy targets to use or abuse inrelationships. Since they lack a solid sense of self-worth, they are always looking to attract favourable attention by easily complying with other people’s demands.
They have six main characteristics:
THE PEOPLE PLEASER
- Eager to agree with others – they fear disapproval or not fitting in, so tend to go along with others’ requests without question.
- Can’t say no or set limits – as a result, people pleasers are often fatigued from running never-ending errands or taking on the workload of colleagues.
- Inability to make independent decisions – they have little belief in themselves, leaving decision-making to others.
- Low self-esteem – they constantly need others to make them feel worthy, and will do almost anything to make others like and approve of them.
- Fear of abandonment – they fear they will be left by loved ones if they don’t bow down to every demand.
- Easily disappointed – the slightest criticism or feeling that they have let someone down can actually lead them to depression.
- When meeting, working or living with people pleasers, be on the look-out for the following:
- They are reluctant to take responsibility for decisions and don’t do well in leadership roles.
- They have a tendency to mistrust genuine praise or feedback.
- They are unable to set and follow through on personal goals.
- They find it difficult to relax and need to keep busy to feel worthwhile.
- They are often resentful or withdrawn for allowing others to walk all over them.
- They are hyper-alert to even the slightest of criticisms.
It isn’t all bad, however:
- If you’re under pressure and need help to get a lot of things done in a short space of time, people pleasers can be relied on.
- They will carry out tasks to the letter, and not question you.
- With clear guidelines, they carry out every task to the best of their ability.
SO HOW DO I DEAL WITH A PEOPLE PLEASER?
People pleasers will expect you to take the lead and make all the decisions in a relationship. Over time this can drain your resources, turning your former willingness to play the leading role into resentment. Trying to avoid them will be hurtful and could cause their already brittle sense of self to crumble. Like with most ingrained, inflexible personality patterns, the key to dealing with people pleasers is patience – and lots of it! Slowly allow the people pleasers in your life the space to assert themselves, express their own thoughts and feelings, and make autonomous decisions.
AM I A PEOPLE PLEASER?
- Doing things for others and allowing them to take the lead in certain situations doesn’t mean you are people pleasing. However, you might be if you catch yourself frequently doing any of the following:
- You readily agree with what others are saying or asking of you without giving their requests due consideration
- You have to keep busy by catering to others’ needs, never considering your own
- You fear people will stop liking or respecting you if you refuse to comply with their requests
Matters of the mind:
- Turn the other cheek. If you want to show off your best side to someone, turn and show them your left cheek. A new study from Wake Forest University in the US found that images of the left side of the face are perceived and rated as more pleasant than those of the right side. It may be because the left side of the face is more intense and active during emotional expression.
- The presence of babies causes an ‘anti-risk’ reaction in women, but not men, according to new research. Due to evolution, men take risks to establish status and women are more aware of risks to protect their offspring.