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The Most Damaging Things You Can Say To A People-Pleaser

The best way to please a people-pleaser? Understand where they’re coming from.

For people-pleasers, the tendency to put their needs on the back-burner and prioritize other’s desires usually stems from childhood. A child learns how to people-please by first learning how to parent-please.

“During their formative years, these individuals likely received validation and approval when they fulfilled their parent’s needs, creating a link between self-worth and meeting external expectations,” said Imi Lo, a therapist and owner of Eggshell Therapy.

The goal in adulthood for people-pleasers should be to unravel learned behaviors and make the shift toward self-compassion, but that’s not a particularly easy task.

“It’s a process of breaking free from the conditioning that shaped their tendencies,” Lo said. “A people-pleaser needs to recognize the importance of self-care without feeling selfish or guilty.”

If you’re friends, in a relationship or work closely with a people-pleaser, you can support them by not putting them in predicaments where they’re forced to quiet their own needs or wishes. What kinds of casual statements and requests should you avoid? Below, Lo and other therapists share five situations to never put a people-pleaser in.

‘Come on, just do it!’

People-pleasers almost across the board have a hard time saying no. That’s why it’s important not to guilt them into an activity or a decision. If they told you they can’t make your birthday trip, don’t pester them until they cave in and go; chances are, saying no was a big challenge for them.

“If you want to help a people-pleaser to honor themselves more, try to let them make their own decisions and respect them,” said Lia Huynh, a marriage and family therapist in

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