Coaching Psychology

Breaking Free from the People Pleaser Trap: How to Overcome the Need to Please at Work

Being a people pleaser is a common characteristic that many individuals possess. It is the tendency to prioritise the needs and desires of others over their own. Understanding the people pleaser mentality is crucial to break free from the trap and regain control of your life.

People pleasers often have a deep-rooted fear of rejection and a strong desire for acceptance and validation from others. They constantly seek approval and go to great lengths to avoid conflict or disappointing others. This mindset can have a significant impact on their personal and professional relationships, especially in the workplace.

Signs that you may be a people pleaser

Identifying whether you possess people pleaser tendencies is the first step towards overcoming this mindset. Some common signs include:

  • Difficulty saying no: People pleasers often struggle to set boundaries and find it hard to decline requests or favours, even if it inconveniences them.
  • Putting others’ needs first: People pleasers prioritise the needs and desires of others over their own, sometimes neglecting their own well-being in the process.
  • Fear of conflict: People pleasers will go to great lengths to avoid conflict, often sacrificing their own opinions and needs to maintain harmony.
  • Seeking validation: People pleasers constantly seek approval and validation from others, relying on external sources to boost their self-worth.
  • Over-apologising: People pleasers have a tendency to over-apologise, even when they are not at fault, as a way to avoid confrontation.

The impact of being a people pleaser at work

Being a people pleaser can have a significant impact on your professional life. While it may initially seem like a positive trait, always putting others’ needs before your own can lead to burnout, resentment, and a lack of fulfillment in your career.

People pleasers often take on more work than they can handle, leading to increased stress and a decline in productivity. They may also struggle with decision-making, as they are constantly seeking approval from others instead of trusting their own judgment. This can hinder their ability to take risks and pursue opportunities for growth and advancement.

Additionally, constantly seeking validation from others can prevent people pleasers from asserting themselves and sharing their ideas and opinions. This can hinder their professional development and prevent them from being seen as leaders in their field.

The reasons behind the need to please

Understanding the underlying reasons behind the need to please is essential in breaking free from the people pleaser trap. There are several factors that may contribute to this mindset, including:

  • Fear of rejection: People pleasers often have a deep-seated fear of rejection. They believe that by constantly meeting the needs of others, they can avoid being rejected or abandoned.
  • Low self-esteem: People pleasers often have low self-esteem and rely on external validation to feel good about themselves. They believe that by pleasing others, they can gain acceptance and approval, boosting their self-worth.
  • Past experiences: Previous experiences of criticism or rejection can contribute to the development of people pleaser tendencies. They may have learned that their worth is dependent on meeting the expectations of others.
  • Lack of boundaries: People pleasers often struggle with setting boundaries and saying no. They may have a fear of disappointing others or being seen as selfish, leading them to constantly prioritise the needs of others over their own.

Understanding these underlying reasons can help individuals address the root causes of their people pleaser mentality and work towards overcoming it.

Breaking free from the people pleaser trap

Breaking free from the people pleaser trap is a process that requires self-reflection, self-compassion, and a commitment to personal growth. Here are some effective strategies to help you overcome the need to please:

Building self-confidence and assertiveness

Developing self-confidence is crucial in overcoming the people pleaser mentality. Start by recognising your own worth and value, independent of the approval of others. Focus on your strengths and accomplishments, and remind yourself that your needs and opinions matter.

Practicing assertiveness is also essential. Learn to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs in a clear and respectful manner. Practice saying no when necessary and setting boundaries to protect your own well-being.

Setting boundaries and saying no

Setting boundaries is a crucial step in breaking free from the people pleaser trap. Identify your limits and communicate them assertively to others. Learn to say no when a request or favour is not aligned with your own priorities or values. Remember, saying no does not make you selfish or uncaring; it is a way to honour your own needs and maintain your well-being.

Effective communication techniques

Developing effective communication skills is key in overcoming the need to please. Learn to express your thoughts and opinions clearly and confidently. Practice active listening to ensure that you fully understand others’ perspectives and needs. Seek feedback and ask for clarification when necessary. By improving your communication skills, you can build stronger relationships and assert yourself more effectively.

Seeking support and professional help

Overcoming the people pleaser mentality can be challenging, and it’s important to seek support along the way. Surround yourself with supportive and understanding individuals who can provide encouragement and guidance. Consider seeking professional help, such as therapy or coaching, to gain further insights and develop effective strategies for breaking free from the trap.

Embracing your authentic self at work

Finally, embrace your authentic self in the workplace. Recognise your unique strengths, talents, and perspectives, and learn to value and express them. Allow yourself to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them. By embracing your authentic self, you can cultivate a sense of fulfillment and success in your career.


Breaking free from the people pleaser trap is a transformative journey that requires self-reflection, self-compassion, and a commitment to personal growth. Through building self-confidence, setting boundaries, practicing effective communication, seeking support, and embracing authenticity, you can create a more fulfilling and balanced work life. Book a complimentary 30-minute call with Ros here to start your journey towards breaking free from the people pleaser trap and living a life that aligns with your true self.

Read next: Becoming Flawesome; Embrace Your Imperfections and Live Your Truth

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