5 Tips on How to Stop Being a People-Pleaser

People pleasers want to make everyone happy and will usually do everything someone asks of them, and according to Susan Newman, Ph.D., a social psychologist from New Jersey, they have the habit of saying ‘Yes’ because they feel the need to be needed and contribute to others’ lives.

They also tend to be scared about how people will react or what they will think of them if they say no, according to Linda Tillman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist from Atlanta. She explains that this is usually because people-pleasers have confidence issues.

People pleasing can be very overwhelming and stressful, especially if you agree to do things that don’t fit into your time frame and schedule, or you simply don’t have the knowledge needed to be able to help out. Saying yes and then struggling may make you frustrated and lead to burnout.

It is important to learn how to say no and take care of yourself first, so here are some tips on how to stop being a people-pleaser:

1. Know your priorities

If you are a people-pleaser, you probably think that you have no choice but to say yes and help. This is not true – you do have a choice, and make it according to your priorities.

If you are comfortable with saying yes, go for it, but if you have something more important to do, or somewhere to be, it is OK to say no.

If you don’t know if you’ll be able to help out immediately, say that you need some time to think about it, and then decide whether you can (or want) to do it or not, and give your response accordingly. If the person needs an answer right away, then say no. That way, you didn’t commit to anything you’ll be sorry about later, but you can change your mind after you’ve realized that you can do it after all, and then say yes.

2. Don’t let people set time frames or manipulate you

If someone needs your help, and you want to do it – tell that person when it is convenient for you and don’t let your time be disrespected.

For example, you can say “I can help, but after 5 P.M. when I get off work”. Also, some people will try to manipulate you to do something for them by saying the classic line “You can do it better” or “I can’t do it, I need your help”. You should think about whether that person really needs you or are they just lazy or don’t want to pay someone, so they are using you for free.

Even if you are not manipulated, don’t say yes if you don’t have the time or energy to help.

You can say no in a respectful way like “I would really like to help, but I won’t be able to”. Don’t explain your reasons too much, as that gives the person a chance to convince you that their thing is more important than what you need to do, or that it is not as demanding as you may think.

3. Sound convincing when you say no

Saying no reluctantly doesn’t have a strong effect.

Newman explains that saying no for the first time can be very hard, but you need to learn how to do it. You also need to know that you’re saying no for good reason (you’re tired, you need to do something else, you need to help out someone else, etc.) and you’ll feel better.

4. Be assertive

If you can’t help out, let the person asking you a favor know that you understand their position but you simply can’t help.

For example, a friend asks you to crash at your place for the weekend, but you were planning to spend some quality time with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Explain that in an assertive and respectful way, stating your wishes and plans, and making the situation completely clear.

5. Don’t apologize

People pleasers apologize a lot, as if everything was their fault.

They also apologize for saying no, and they somehow get convinced to say yes after all. Stop being apologetic and learn to build your confidence. You have the right to spend time on yourself, relaxing, resting or working on yourself, and you don’t need to make everyone around you happy.