A People Pleaser’s Resolution

I meet a lot of people pleasers in my coaching work. If you find yourself answering yes to these questions then there is a good chance that your people pleaser trait is overdone:

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  • Do you put other people’s feelings and needs before your own?
  • Do you get pushed around or taken advantage of?
  • Are you very indecisive?
  • Do you often give a knee-jerk ‘Yes’ response to requests?
  • Do you apologise excessively?
  • Do you often feel guilty for other people’s feelings?

Being a people pleaser is a positive trait

Being a people pleaser is a good thing because being amenable increases our chances of fitting in and developing bonds and rapport with others.

As social animals, it is important for us to be part of the group and be liked. This is key to influencing others and everyone likes being around someone who makes them feel good.

Being a people pleaser can become a trap

However this trait can become a trap whereby we can over-commit ourselves and become easily manipulated.

When coaching someone with an overdone people pleaser trait, ensure your client knows that careful consideration of their impact on other people is a good thing. This is what makes them a nice human being. The objective is for your client to retain their thoughtfulness and consideration without being a doormat. The following techniques are focused on helping your client to look at their situation and themselves from different perspectives and to practice developing a sense of self-worth.

Sometimes it is important for a people pleaser to assess how the people with whom they surround themselves are affecting their behaviour. One way to do this could be to do a relationships audit.


4 Steps To A People Pleaser Relationship Audit

  1. The first step is to make a list of as many people as you can think of in your network of friends, family and colleagues. Just write down on a sheet of paper as many peoples’ names as you can.
  2. Then think about each of these people in turn and consider which of the following categories they would fall into:


A person who is there for you and that you like to be around. A supporter is on your side and boosts your confidence.


Someone who seems to suck the energy, confidence and life out of you when you are near them. A vampire takes much more from the relationship than they give.

Role Model

A person that you admire, look up to and respect. A person who has achieved what you want to achieve.


Someone who has information or influence that can help you achieve your goals.

TILIS Friend

A friend who ‘Tells It Like It Is’ without holding back.


A person who actively doesn’t want you to succeed and undermines your efforts.

  1. The next thing to look at is the balance across the categories. Does one group outweigh the others? What does that say?
  2. Consider whether you want to keep each of these people in your life. Perhaps you could try to seek out people who value and respect you for who you are and not what you do for others and then spend more time with those people.

People Pleasing is one of the twelve traits Kim Morgan and I have written about in The Coach’s Casebook that can trap us and a relationships audit is just one technique that might be helpful in bringing that trait back into balance. Perhaps the new year is a great time to take a new look at the people we associate with?

Geoff Watts

Agile Leadership Coach, Inspect & Adapt Ltd

Geoff is the co-author of The Coach’s Casebook: Mastering the Traits that Trap Us with Kim Morgan. He is a keynote speaker on agile coaching, leadership and also author of two other best-selling books. Geoff’s focus is on coaching leaders to develop an agile culture within their organisations through servant-leadership, reflection and self-mastery.