How to Stop Being a People Pleaser


Reviewed by: Erica Grandjean, APD, BNutr&Diet

Picture this: you’re at home with the in-laws and two of them start a heated argument. Do you feel a knot in your stomach, a rise in anxiety, and the overwhelming urge to keep the peace? If you do, you’re a people pleaser.

People-pleasing is not just limited to family. It’s endemic in the workplace, with friends, even with strangers. It’s the urge to keep others happy and make sure everyone’s needs are being met.

On its own, this isn’t a bad thing. It becomes problematic when your own needs take second place.

Here are four key ways to stop being a people pleaser at the expense of your own sanity. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup! 

Also read: 7 Signs Your Mind Needs a Good Workout

Be empathic but assertive

An empathetic but assertive response is the Holy Grail of being empowered – it means you validate what the other person is feeling, but still firmly say no and set boundaries.

After all, most of us just want to be heard and understood. When people are demanding of your energy and time, it’s usually a sign of their vulnerability.

If you can make the other person feel heard, they’re more likely to be receptive to your response.


It’s perfectly ok to push back and ask for more time.

This is especially true in the workplace. When you’re asked to go above-and-beyond on a particular task or project, pause, and respond with “ok let me think about the logistics and get back to you.”

You’ve then bought yourself more time to properly assess the request – and you look very professional!

Know your priorities

Once you know what your own priorities and boundaries are, you’re much better equipped to curb people pleasing just for the sake of it.

Always ask yourself, does this conflict with my own boundaries and priorities? (For more 12WBT mindset lessons, click here)

Don’t over-explain or excuse

The more you provide excuses, the more the other person has wiggle room to try and manipulate you into giving in.

Be firm, straightforward and assertive.

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