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The Cost of Being a People Pleaser

March 8, 2024

That uncomfortable moment when you want to say no, but you’re worried it will upset someone else. Or when you agree to do something even though your gut tells you that you’d rather do just about anything else. Maybe even a time when you’ve been in an uncomfortable intimate situation, but you let it happen because you didn’t want the other person to get mad.

If any of these scenarios resonate with you, you might be a people pleaser.

What is a People Pleaser?

Being a people pleaser refers to someone who prioritizes the needs and desires of others over their own, often at the expense of their own well-being. People pleasers typically go to great lengths to avoid conflict, seek approval, and ensure that those around them are happy and satisfied.

They may have difficulty saying no, setting boundaries, or asserting themselves in order to avoid disappointing or upsetting others. This behavior can stem from a desire for acceptance, fear of rejection, or low self-esteem. While being considerate and accommodating can be positive traits, being a chronic people pleaser can lead to feelings of resentment, burnout, and a lack of fulfillment in one's personal and professional life.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, women make up the majority of people pleasers. According to YouGov, “Women (56%) are more likely than men (42%) to say they would describe themselves this way.”

Psychology Today has this to say about WHY more women tend to fall into this category”

Women are largely humanity’s caretakers, and they are taught to be more passive, less aggressive; plus, a people-pleasing woman will not likely be labeled high maintenance or “difficult.” She would rather bend over backward than appear fussy.


How Being a People Pleaser Can Cost You

There are countless articles about how people pleasing can affect you (and your self-esteem). But what if I told you that it’s affecting your wallet as well?

Overcommitting: People pleasers often have difficulty saying no to requests for help or favors, even if it means taking on too much work or responsibilities. This can lead to overcommitment, causing you to spend time and resources on tasks that aren't directly beneficial to your financial goals.

Undercharging for services: People pleasers may undervalue their own skills and abilities, leading them to undercharge for their services or products. They may feel uncomfortable negotiating rates or asking for what they're worth, which can result in lost income opportunities.

Difficulty in negotiation: Negotiation is an essential skill in many financial transactions, whether it's negotiating a salary, contract terms, or prices for goods and services. People pleasers often struggle with assertiveness in these situations, making it harder for them to secure favorable terms and deals.

Overspending: People pleasers may feel pressure to keep up with others' expectations or maintain a certain image, leading them to overspend on gifts, outings, or other expenses to please others. This can strain their finances and lead to debt or financial instability.

Lack of boundaries: People pleasers often have difficulty setting boundaries, whether it's with friends, family, or colleagues. This can result in being taken advantage of financially, such as constantly lending money without repayment or being asked to cover expenses for others.

Career stagnation: In the workplace, people pleasers may prioritize harmony and avoiding conflict over advocating for their own advancement or seeking out opportunities for growth. This can lead to being passed over for promotions or raises, ultimately impacting their long-term earning potential.


Time to Say No

Cutting the people-pleasing cord isn’t easy and it takes practice to overcome a lifelong habit like this. Here are some quick ideas to help get you started.

Before you say yes to something, take a beat. For example, tell the other person you need to check your calendar and you’ll get back to them. That gives you time to evaluate whether or not you want to do what they’re asking and craft a response.

Identify your patterns: Reflect on situations where you tend to prioritize others' needs over your own. Notice any recurring patterns or behaviors that indicate people-pleasing tendencies.

Practice assertiveness: Communicate your thoughts, feelings, and preferences assertively, without being aggressive or passive. Use "I" statements to express yourself clearly and respectfully.

Learn to tolerate discomfort: Accept that setting boundaries and saying no may feel uncomfortable at first, but it's essential for your well-being. Embrace the discomfort as part of the growth process.

Seek support: Surround yourself with understanding and supportive individuals who respect your boundaries and encourage your growth. Consider talking to a therapist or joining a support group to explore underlying issues and develop healthier habits.


And talk to your financial advisor! If you’re finding that people pleasing is affecting your bottom line, it’s okay to use the excuse, “My financial planner has advised me not to do _____.” Remember that we’re in your corner and part of your support system. We can help you exercise your “no” muscle.

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