The People Pleasing Problem: Why Being a Pleaser Is Hurting Your Life and Career (and How to Stop Now)

Are you struggling because you try to please others too much? Authors Jack Skeen, Greg Miller, and Aaron Hill say you owe it to yourself to stop. Here they share  six steps to reduce the problems associated with pleasing behaviors.

Are you a pleaser? Do you love the jolt that comes from winning others’ approval? Do you feel your tendency to please others will help you get ahead? If you answered yes to these questions, it’s time to take a long, hard look at why you’re doing what you’re doing. Jack Skeen, Greg Miller, and Aaron Hill say that if you’re a pleaser, you, by definition, can’t possibly thrive.

“Pleasers are people who adapt to the real or perceived needs of others in unhealthy ways,” says Skeen, who along with Greg Miller and Aaron Hill wrote The Circle Blueprint: Decoding the Conscious and Unconscious Factors that Determine Your Success (Wiley, October 2017, ISBN: 978-1-119-43485-6, $26.00, “Pleasing your boss may lead to a promotion, but when you hide your true self to become the person your boss wants you to be, you never cultivate your unique gifts and abilities that could bring you real success.”

The Circle Blueprint is part of a larger self-improvement program called the Circle Blueprint System, which also includes workbooks and a confidential scientifically validated psychometric self-assessment. The self-assessment is free with the purchase of the book. InThe Circle Blueprint, the authors explain that pleasing is a destructive behavior that stops you from reaching independence.

First things first: What is independence? The authors say it’s one of four critical developmental areas that make up your own personal “Circle” and allow you to thrive. Independence is all about taking 100 percent responsibility for your life and the outcomes of your choices, living with freedom from insecurity and self-doubt, and being able to speak openly and candidly in all circumstances. Before you can reach independence, you mustrecognize your need to please and then stop pleasing others at your own expense.

Here are just a few of the problems caused by chronic pleasing:

Pleasing doesn’t achieve what you think it does. You may hope that by winning the favor of others, they will take care of you. Unfortunately, you’ve found the opposite is true. All it does is make you completely dependent on their goodwill. People come to view a chronic pleaser as more of a problem than as someone who is useful and truly helpful.

Because pleasing takes up all your time and energy, your own life is in disarray. Your deep-seated pattern of doing everything to please others and ignoring your own wants and needs distracts you from more beneficial choices.

You are not being your authentic self. When you are overly focused on pleasing others, your behavior becomes insincere. In trying to make others happy, you lose yourself entirely.

Recognize any of the above issues? Not to worry. Here’s how to stop being a pleaser and reconnect to the real, authentic you.

1. Start by trying to notice when you are pretending to be what someone else wants you to be rather than being yourself. Just taking note is a good way to start the process.

2. Similarly, notice when you are not telling the truth or saying what you really think. Again, just taking note can help start the process. You don’t need to be a psychic or have a free psychic reading to understand or know how to deal with it.

3. Now that we have taken note—we are ready for changes! Begin with expressing your thoughts and desires even in small things like the movie you want to see or what you want to eat for lunch.

4. Practice saying no when you don’t want to do something someone else wants to do. It is okay to free yourself up, nicely.

5. Notice when you feel trapped or unhappy in a relationship or task and take this as a sign that you might be making pleasing more important than being yourself. Find a way to appropriately change these relationships.

6. Practice expressing yourself more openly, sharing your ideas, thoughts, plans, and dreams.

“Don’t be surprised if it’s initially difficult to stop being a pleaser,” says Miller. “When people are used to your pleasing, they may view your change in behavior as shocking. Take the time to convey your true thoughts and desires to them. Explain that you can’t please others any longer unless it aligns with your own beliefs and needs. You might be surprised to find that most people will support you overwhelmingly.”

“Giving up the pressure to please will help you stop depending on others and gain a real sense of control over your life at last,” concludes Hill. “It will free you from the exhausting burdens of burnout, resentment, the knee-jerk need to be liked, and so much more. Get ready to discover your real power and start using it to change your life.”

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About the Authors:
JACK SKEEN, PhD, is the founder of Skeen Leadership, an executive consulting firm. Skeen coaches successful leaders, addressing every imaginable leadership, business, and life issue with wisdom and professionalism.

GREG MILLER, PhD, is CEO of CrossCom, a technology services company. Miller has successfully led CrossCom to become a market leader through process efficiency, technology innovation, and rigorous execution.

AARON HILL, PhD, is the William S. Spears Chair in Business Administration at Oklahoma State University. He has authored a dozen articles appearing in the Financial Times Top 50 business journals.

About the Book:
The Circle Blueprint: Decoding the Conscious and Unconscious Factors that Determine Your Success (Wiley, October 2017, ISBN: 978-1-119-43485-6, $26.00, is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797. For more information, please visit the book’s page on

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