9 things people pleasers can’t say “no” to

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Ever met someone who can’t seem to say “no”? That’s a people pleaser!

They’re the ones always helping out, even if they’re swamped.

While being kind and helpful are definitely virtues, there’s a thin line between being genuinely helpful and simply not being able to say “no.”

Curious about what people pleasers often can’t resist? Here’s a list of 9 things they just can’t turn down.

1. Last-minute favors

“Hey, I know it’s short notice, but could you…?”

Sound familiar?

People pleasers often find themselves on the receiving end of these requests.

Whether it’s covering a shift for a co-worker or helping out with a last-minute school project, these situations arise from someone else’s lack of planning.

But the people pleaser? They jump right in, often pushing their own plans aside.

They fear disappointing others and feel compelled to step in, especially when they sense urgency or desperation in the request.

And while it’s kind-hearted, it can sometimes lead to unnecessary stress for the pleaser.

If you find yourself nodding along, remember: it’s okay to sometimes let others handle their own emergencies.

2. Events they’re not keen on

“It’s just one evening, and it would mean so much if you came.”

Invitations can be flattering, but for people pleasers, they can also be traps.

From gatherings they’re not particularly interested in, to events on nights they’d rather just relax at home, turning down an invite feels like they’re letting someone down.

The thought of causing disappointment or missing out on supporting a friend in their moment (even if it’s just a casual get-together) weighs heavily. So, they often find themselves attending events out of obligation rather than genuine desire.

If this resonates with you, it might be worth remembering that true friends will understand if you sometimes need a night off.

3. Opportunities to give feedback

“What do you think? Be honest, okay?”

While most would think that people pleasers might dodge the responsibility of giving feedback, in reality, it’s quite the opposite.

When asked for an opinion, especially in situations that require constructive criticism, they feel the pressure to oblige.

The counter-intuitive part?

Instead of just offering a simple positive response to keep the peace, they often dive deep, hoping to provide “helpful” feedback. They’re driven by the desire to be useful and to foster growth.

But, sometimes, they can get caught up overthinking their response, worried about how to offer critiques without hurting feelings.

If this sounds like you, it might be helpful to remember that feedback is a two-way street: it’s okay to ask for clarity on how in-depth or candid the other person wants you to be.

4. Free work or favors

“Could you do me a quick favor?”

For people pleasers, the word “quick” becomes a sneaky trap.

Whether it’s helping with a task, offering professional advice, or lending their skills, they find it challenging to decline. The urge to assist often overshadows the value of their time and expertise.

Tip for the pleasers: It’s okay to set boundaries on your generosity.

5. Adopting another’s problem

“I’m just so overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do.”

Whenever I hear someone say this, I’ve noticed how people pleasers instinctively want to jump in and offer a solution.

Their empathetic nature makes them want to shoulder the burden, even if it isn’t theirs to bear. They believe that by offering help, they’re making things better.

However, it’s essential to understand that sometimes the best way to support is just to listen, rather than trying to fix everything.

Not every problem requires an immediate solution, and it’s okay for people pleasers to step back occasionally.

6. Extra responsibilities at work

“Hey, would you mind handling this extra task for a bit?”

In the workplace, people pleasers often become the go-to person for extra assignments, not necessarily because of their specific job roles, but because colleagues and supervisors know they rarely decline.

While this can occasionally lead to positive recognition, it also runs the risk of burnout.

Over time, these additional tasks can pile up, leaving the pleaser feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated.

It’s crucial for them to recognize their limits and communicate their capacity effectively, ensuring they don’t become the office’s default “yes” person at the expense of their own well-being.

7. Rejecting compliments

“Wow, you did an amazing job on this!”

You’d think people pleasers would bask in the glow of appreciation. Oddly enough, many struggle to simply accept a compliment.

Instead of a straightforward “thank you,” they might deflect with statements like, “Oh, it was nothing” or “I could’ve done better.”

While it may seem counter-intuitive, this behavior stems from their deep-seated desire not to appear boastful or to overshadow others. They’d rather downplay their achievements than risk being perceived as self-centered.

However, in doing so, they may inadvertently dismiss the genuine appreciation coming their way.

Embracing praise is something many people pleasers might need to practice, recognizing that accepting compliments doesn’t diminish the efforts of others.

8. Turning down unwanted gifts or gestures

“I got this for you, I thought you’d like it.”

While most people might graciously accept a gesture or gift even if it’s not to their taste, for people pleasers, this situation becomes an emotional minefield.

The very thought of turning down or critiquing a well-intentioned gesture feels almost blasphemous.

Instead of speaking up about their preferences or expressing that they’re uncomfortable, they often choose to accept the gesture to avoid potential conflict or hurt feelings.

While the intention is noble, it can lead to miscommunication and even more unwanted gestures in the future. The challenge is to find a delicate balance between gratitude and honesty.

9. Setting personal boundaries

“It’s okay, I don’t mind…”

Ironically, one of the hardest things for a people pleaser to say “no” to is the act of setting boundaries for themselves.

The thought of pushing back, defining limits, or asserting their own needs often feels foreign and uncomfortable. They worry it might come off as selfish or uncaring.

But here’s the catch: continuously neglecting one’s own needs can lead to burnout, resentment, and fatigue.

It’s essential for people pleasers to recognize that setting personal boundaries isn’t about being rigid or unkind; it’s about self-preservation and ensuring they can continue to be there for others in a healthy way. 

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.


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