The Other Side of People-Pleasing: What It Means to Be People-Pleased

While much is said about the motivations and impacts of people-pleasing behaviour on the pleaser, the experience from the perspective of those on the receiving end warrants a closer examination. Emma Reed Turrell’s observations (in her book “Please Yourself”), coupled with the reflections shared in the Life Cach School podcast (episode 256 “People-Pleased”), highlight the multifaceted nature of being people-pleased.

Being the focus of a people-pleaser’s efforts can indeed be draining. This dynamic can place an undue burden on the recipient, compelling them to shoulder the weight of decision-making and direction-setting in the relationship. This responsibility, unintended by the giver, can lead to a depletion of personal energy and initiative, turning seemingly considerate acts into sources of stress and irritation.

At the heart of people-pleasing lies a paradox: actions driven by the desire to be seen as selfless and considerate can, over time, become a source of frustration and resentment for the recipient. This realization challenges us to confront the uncomfortable truth that people-pleasing is not purely altruistic but is often a manifestation of the pleaser’s insecurities.

Acknowledging the complexity of this interaction opens the door to transformative changes. For the people-pleaser, it requires an honest self-assessment and the courage to address underlying insecurities. For those on the receiving end, it presents an opportunity to redefine the dynamics of their relationships, fostering a more balanced and authentic connection.

Exploring the Depths of People-Pleasing: A Closer Look from Both Sides

The Life Coach School podcast episode 256, “People Pleased,” dives into the complexities of people-pleasing, revealing the profound impact it has not only on those who habitually seek to please others but also on the recipients of such actions. This nuanced exploration sheds light on why being people-pleased isn’t as pleasing as it sounds.

Being on the receiving end of people-pleasing can elicit a mix of emotions, primarily obligation and guilt, especially when the actions are unsolicited. This dynamic forces recipients into a corner, feeling pressured to respond positively to avoid disappointing the pleaser. Such interactions lack the sincerity of genuine kindness, as they are often driven by the pleaser’s need for validation rather than authentic generosity.

From Inauthenticity to Resentment: The Hidden Costs

The podcast illuminates the inauthentic nature of people-pleasing behaviours, portraying pleasers as unwittingly dishonest about their desires and feelings. This misalignment between actions and intentions can trap recipients in a cycle of resentment and guilt, complicating relationships further.

Acknowledging the manipulative undertones of people-pleasing is crucial. Both parties play a role in perpetuating this cycle, whether by offering unrequested kindness to receive validation or by accepting these gestures out of a sense of duty. Recognizing the difference between actions rooted in genuine love versus those driven by expectations can be liberating for all involved.

Breaking the Cycle Through Coaching

As a coach specializing in navigating the intricacies of human relationships, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of acknowledging and addressing the motives behind people-pleasing. Through cognitive-behavioural coaching and introspective thought work, individuals can learn to:

  • Clearly communicate their needs and establish firm boundaries with kindness.
  • Say no to unwelcome gestures without guilt, acknowledging that declining does not equate to unkindness.
  • Identify and modify the deep-seated beliefs fuelling their people-pleasing tendencies, fostering more authentic interactions.

Taking the Next Step: Think Coaching

If you find resonance with the experiences of being people-pleased or recognize a pattern of people-pleasing in your behaviour, reaching out for coaching could mark the beginning of a significant transformation. Together, we can explore strategies tailored to your unique situation, fostering relationships grounded in mutual respect and authenticity.

Click here to book a 1st consultation call with me

Let’s embark on a journey toward reclaiming your power in relationships, shedding the obligations of people-pleasing, and building connections that celebrate authenticity and mutual respect.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Sophie


Inspired by:

Turrell, E. R. (2021). Please Yourself: How to Stop People-Pleasing and Transform the Way You Live. HarperCollins.

The Life Coach School. (2019, February 21). Episode 256: People-Pleased [Audio podcast episode]. In The Life Coach School Podcast.