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People-Pleasing Behavioral Personality Characteristics

Chapter 10: The People-Pleasing

Behavioral Personality Characteristics
Laying the Foundation:

Personality Traits of Low Self-Esteem
By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.


People-Pleasing Behavior Characteristics


Appearance to world of those in the people-pleasing behavior role

  • Very organized
  • Easily liked
  • Placators or appeasers
  • Friendly, outgoing, gregarious
  • Helpful, supportive
  • Courteous and considerate of others
  • Always smiling
  • Interested in others' welfare
  • Cooperative; real “team players”
  • Generous with own time and energy
  • Ready to volunteer
  • Accept delegation easily
  • “Company men”; very loyal
  • Ready to take on any new challenge that comes along
  • Work hard at pleasing others
  • Talented, skillful, and creative
  • A pleasure to spend time with
  • Happy, joyful, full of fun
  • Encouraging and reassuring
  • Go along with requests made by others
  • People mixers
  • Assets in any conversation
  • “Together,” warm, and caring persons
  • Persons sought out for friendship; popular socially

Feelings inside those in the people-pleasing behavior role

  • Fear of loss of approval
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of loss of personal identity
  • Fear of loss of personal worth
  • Denial of problems
  • Self-denial or ignoring of personal rights
  • Feeling lonely and isolated from others
  • Avoid conflicts or fights at any cost
  • Feeling not “good” enough
  • Feeling undeserving
  • Feeling inferior to others
  • Concern about satisfying others' demands
  • Insecurity about personal abilities, skills, or knowledge
  • Compulsive need to please others
  • Unhappy over not pleasing others
  • Embarrassed by personal looks or behavior that displeases others
  • Confusion about why it takes so much energy to please others
  • Fear of not “doing best” for others' sake
  • Fear of letting their friends and family down
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of it being “found out” they are not as good as they appear to others
  • Fear that others will recognize their failings
  • Desire to run away to avoid the stress of “always” needing to be “good”
  • Exhaustion from always trying to be “perfect”
  • Disappointment in not being able to make everyone happy
  • Critical of how well they are doing in their personal lives
  • Feel unappreciated or taken advantage of
  • Feel taken for granted
  • Feel like they are being treated like victims
  • Feel like the martyr for others
  • Fear of making a decision lest it be the wrong one
  • Come unglued easily under pressure; unorganized

Negative consequence of people-pleasing behavior role

  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of personal identity
  • Loss of personal rights
  • Being taken advantage of
  • Loss of personal time
  • Ineffectiveness in managing work
  • Inability to direct or supervise others
  • Inability to achieve personal goals
  • Inability to take a leadership role
  • Poor problem-solving abilities
  • Burnout on the job or at home
  • Chronic state of being unappreciated
  • Immobilized by irrational beliefs
  • Guilt over not accomplishing enough or not being pleasing enough for others
  • Inability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships
  • Loss of appreciation for self-attributes
  • Inability to accept kindnesses from others
  • Chronic state of self-deprecation
  • Chronic state of being hard on self
  • Lack of trust in others' sincerity
  • Chronic state of insecurity in interacting with others
  • Inability to make a decision
  • Do not know how to relax

Some beliefs of those in the people-pleasing behavior role

  • I must be liked by everyone.
  • I must do nothing to upset others.
  • I must work harder to make things better for others.
  • They would never like me if they knew the truth about me.
  • I must be careful in my decision making so as not to upset anyone.
  • I can never do enough to please them.
  • I am responsible for other peoples' happiness.
  • How they respond to me is important.
  • The harder I work for them, the more they will appreciate me.
  • If they don't like me, I'm no good!
  • Always put others first! Put yourself last.
  • There is no task I won't do for you, large or small.
  • People can only like you if you appear nice, pleasant, friendly, and cheerful to them.
  • Your only role in life is giving to or helping others.
  • If you are not successful, you are a loser and losers are ignored, unloved, and unwanted.
  • It's not who you are but what you do that counts.
  • You must always be understanding and have an open mind with people who are hurting you or putting you down.
  • If someone doesn't accept me, it must be that I'm not “good enough” to be accepted.
  • No matter what I do, it never seems to be “good enough.”
  • I can do nothing right. I am worthless, useless, but I can't let others see this about me or they will reject me.
Turning negative people-pleasing behavior into positive potential


Negative People-Pleasing Behavior: Self-sacrificing
Positive Potential: This behavior can be converted to rational altruism, in which they are able to be self-protective and self-rewarding in their “giving” behavior toward others.


Negative People-Pleasing Behavior: Self-deprecating
Positive Potential: This behavior can be converted into realistic self-appraisal by their being led to recognize and accept personal strengths, abilities, and attributes. They can be taught that “false humility” is unhealthy and that it is OK to “toot” one's horn when approp


Negative People-Pleasing Behavior: Poor decision-making ability
Positive Potential: This poor decision making can be converted to productive problem solving and effective decision making by allowing themselves the right to hold to their own opinions and to be creative without the fear of what others would say and without fear of retribution. Freeing up their mental energy will result in increased productivity, creativity, and healthy decision making.


Negative People-Pleasing Behavior: Loss of personal identity
Positive Potential: By being able to accept themselves for who they are without fear of recriminations or disapproval, they can become firm in their beliefs as to who they are and what they are capable of doing and becoming.


Negative People-Pleasing Behavior: Martyrdom
Positive Potential: Rather than placing themselves in situations in which their rights are ignored and where they are taken advantage of, they can learn to be assertive and begin to protect their rights, ceasing to be victimized by others.


Negative People-Pleasing Behavior: Need for approval
Positive Potential: By increasing their habits of self-affirmation and positive self-approval, they can alter both their need for approval and their fear of rejection by being their own best friend, cheerleader, reinforcer, and approver. They have to accept and approve of themselves before others will.


Negative People-Pleasing Behavior: Dependent on others for positive reinforcement
Positive Potential: Because they have low self-esteem their reinforcement becomes so dependent on others for attention, affection, and approval that they become “addicted” to positive affirmation from others. This can be converted by becoming self-caring, self-affirming, self-accepting, and by becoming emotionally independent from others.


Negative People-Pleasing Behavior: Fear of failure
Positive Potential: By recognizing that one's worth is not solely dependent on “doing well,” “achieving things” or by doing things to please others, they can let go of the fear of letting people down by failing to achieve self-imposed goals or goals others have set for them. Learning to turn failures into growth-enhancing experiences is another way they can let go of this fear.


Negative People-Pleasing Behavior: Unswerving loyalty
Positive Potential: Those who find security in being loyal to institutions rather than to themselves can reverse this behavior by recognizing the value of self-directed attention and concern for personal health and wellbeing. Being loyal to self results in a holistic sense of wellness of body, mind, and spirit.


Negative People-Pleasing Behavior: Hard on self

Positive Potential: This results in self-punishing and self-restrictive behavior. By letting go of the need to be “good enough” for everyone else and by letting go of perfectionism in personal efforts, they can lighten up on themselves and learn to enjoy life, to relax, have fun and play, nurturing the “little child” in themselves