10 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser

Many of us have a not so hidden people pleaser inside of us that craves approval, attention, or both, especially from people in authority.

There is nothing better than the person who is always helping out. But if that person is you, and you are the only one who is helping out, then it’s really not so great after all.

Are you a people pleaser? You may be if you find it hard to say no or feel obligated to do what people ask you to do. Another sign is that you may always be looking for other’s approval or you let people guilt you into doing things that you really don’t want to do.

You may also be a candidate for this category if you find yourself complaining that you give too much, but keep doing it anyway.

So what can you do to stop being a people pleaser?

1 Realize that you have a Choice

You don’t have to always say yes when someone asks you to do something. Even if you feel like you have to do it, you don’t. You can say yes, no, or maybe later. You always have a choice.

2 Just Say No

You have the right to say no. Remind yourself of that from time. You are not even obligated to give a reason most of the time. If you can’t get to no right away, then try saying maybe later. You might mean never, but at least you’ve bought some time.

3 Set your Own Priorities

Start making a daily plan and your own priority list at work. Then when someone asks you for help you can point to your list and say sorry, but I’m busy. Your priority list will also remind you that what you are already doing is important as well.

4 Take Time to Think about it

Buying time is always a good option. A great answer to a request for help is to ask for time to think about it. No one can be offended by that response and it gives you some time and space to decide what you want to do.

5 Ask Questions

As you are thinking about it you can ask yourself some questions like do you really have time to do this? What do I have to give up in order to help this other person out? Or am I going to resent doing this later? These questions help you to evaluate the impact of your decision.

6 Remember, it’s Not Your Fault

Even if the person making the request tells you that they will suffer if you don’t do this favor for them, you have to remember that’s it not your problem and that it’s not your fault. They got themselves into this situation and the consequences are all theirs. Don’t let them burden you with their problems.

7 Start Putting up Boundaries

A people pleaser will get asked to help by others who often use them because they don’t have good boundaries. Start setting up your own boundaries and rules and be clear in communicating these to others. Ask yourself what you’re willing to do, and don’t go beyond these limits.

8 Don’t Worry about the Reaction

Sometimes people who are always asking for favors intimidate us by their reaction when we say no. You have to ignore their reaction, which is often negative and sometimes even angry. You are not responsible for their reaction, so don’t take it on.

9 Take Small Steps

The first time you say no will be the hardest. But every time after that will become a little easier. Try saying no to your closest friends who will most likely understand and be supportive. Then try it out with the people you get along with well at work.

10 Build on Success

Whenever you make even a little progress out of your old habit of being a people pleaser, you should do two things. One is to record your success in a notebook or your journal including what you did and how you felt afterwards. The second is to reward yourself. Something small that recognizes that you are finally putting yourself first.

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in workplace wellness and conflict resolution. He is the author of Change the Things You Can (Dealing with Difficult People). For more information about Mike please visit: Change the Things You Can


  1. Kevin Breeding on the 28th March

    Nicely done. It took me quite a while to realize that my pleasing time is one of the largest consumers of my productive time. Thank you for the post!

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