This People Pleaser survey was conducted over the months of November-December in 2017, as part of market research for my new coaching program The Honesty Effect: 3X Your Social Confidence to Free Yourself from People Pleasing in Just 12 Weeks.
Over 100 people responded to the survey, and I’ve analysed the results with my feedback here. If you identify as a People Pleaser, or care about someone who does, you’ll want to check this out!
You can either keep scrolling to read below, or listen to this audio recording for an in-depth analysis:
FIRST, LET’S QUICKLY REVIEW THE 3 KEY FINDINGS
The biggest issue people pleasers have is confrontations – asserting themselves to set boundaries, expressing beliefs and desires that might cause a negative reaction, and asking for something directly in a way that might lead to rejection. Because people pleasers avoid this, they miss out on love, career opportunities, and self-respect.
People pleasers see themselves as honest people, yet hide huge important truths from others, particularly anything that might make someone unhappy. This shows that they actually have the power to improve their situation, because being more honest will reduce feelings of disconnection and loneliness (more on this later)!
People pleasers share the problem of being beaten down by the I’m not good enough story in their minds, which makes them ashamed about certain truths. Ironically, hiding these truths is what prevents people pleasers from making deep connections, expressing who they really are, and setting respectful boundaries.
Had enough of being a People Pleaser yet?
In 12 weeks or less you can build the social confidence needed to completely free yourself from worrying about what other people think of you, so that any time you’re in a high pressure social situation, like asking someone out or confronting your boss, you can honestly and boldly express yourself, connecting with people deeply without social anxiety or getting stuck in your head.
If this sounds like you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “I’m keen!” and we can talk about next steps. If not, that’s OK, keep reading…
HERE ARE THE RESULTS FOR THE QUANTITATIVE QUESTIONS:
What type of people pleaser are you?
There was almost exact 50/50 split between approval seekers (loves attention) and disapproval avoiders (hides in the shadows). This means you all have a tendency towards one or the other, but probably change which one you are based on the specific situation.
The top 3 values you bring to a social interaction:
- I’m nice, empathetic, compassionate, and in tune with emotions – 71%
- I’m logical, reliable and rational – 52%
- I’m totally honest and trustworthy – 47%
People pleasers tend to treat others well and be reliable. There are strengths in people pleasing that will contribute greatly to connections and socializing in the future. Unfortunately, they also hide emotions behind rationality, and lie to themselves about how honest they really are, so they miss out on their full social potential.
Top 3 most important social goals:
- Make more friends / better friends – 22%
- Find a loving partner – 17%
- Create a more active social life – 11%
People pleasers have a problem with either quantity or quality, dependent usually on what type they are. Approval seekers tend to have a large amount of shallow connections, while disapproval avoiders tend to have a very small amount of any connection, but some deep ones. There are always exceptions. One thing both types have in common is dissatisfaction with their social life, and a struggle to achieve deeper connections in their love life.
Top 3 anxiety-causing situations:
- Standing up for myself; confrontations and arguments – 32%
- Expressing attraction or interest in someone for the first time – 16%
- Being centre of attention (e.g. public speaking) – 14%
People pleasers are hesitant to engage in anything that will create emotions they feel uncomfortable either witnessing or experiencing. “Confrontations” is a broad category that covers any emotionally unpredictable situation – the people pleaser’s worst nightmare. We can see themes of avoiding judgment, rejection, and public embarrassment coming through. So many opportunities lost just to save face!
Top 3 things you suppress and hide:
- The “I’m not good enough” story in my mind – 55%
- Emotions I’m worried I can’t handle, or that I think will make other people judge me as “weak” – 46%
- Beliefs I think the others will disagree with – 43%
Despite the fact that almost everyone in the world has the “I’m not good enough” voice in their minds, few talk about it openly. People pleasers believe they’re the only ones that feel this way. Fighting against this voice is the TRUE cause of their feelings of social danger, isolation and loneliness. They also hide things they worry others will judge them for, which is a form of self-rejection (creates even more loneliness) and in doing so they miss out on the deep connections that come from sharing these very human experiences.
Top 3 people-pleasing tactics:
- Pretending to agree or feel “fine”, when I’m actually emotionally upset / disagreeing – 67%
- Procrastinating on a necessary but uncomfortable social action (e.g. a sales call) – 61%
- Being friendly and nice instead of directly expressing my attraction to someone – 45%
Again, we see a theme of avoiding uncomfortable emotions, through hiding them from others, suppressing them (hiding them from our own awareness), or manipulating others into avoiding them. The emotions most likely to be avoided are disappointment, disapproval, dislike, anger, sadness, jealousy, fear and embarrassment. Which are, of course, all normal human emotions.
These are all emotions connected with the concept of rejection – people pleasers often mistakenly believe that these emotions are dangerous to connections. The truth, of course, is that these emotions are required for connections to get deeper.
Top 3 unhealthy coping mechanisms:
- Overeating more than once per week, specifically sugary or fried foods – 48%
- Scrolled through social media during a social event (e.g. a party) – 39%
- Used pornography more than two days in a row (by yourself) – 34%
All that stress from pretending and hiding must be managed somehow, right?! People pleasers like to get a hit of dopamine (the feel-good chemical) to overcome the exhaustion of too much cortisol (the stress chemical).
All of these activities release dopamine. Ironically, dopamine suppresses the release of oxytocin (the connection chemical) and serotonin (the confidence chemical), which is why these behaviours only serve to make things worse, while temporarily feeling good.
Top things you’ve already tried to deal with this:
- Books or free online resources – 69%
- Trial and error experiments by yourself without support/guidance – 43%
I was surprised and thrilled to see such a high percentage of people are trying things actively on their own! Overthinking without action is a common people-pleaser trait, so it’s great to see some people breaking through that.
Unfortunately, it seems that for many of you it simply isn’t working. Either the advice you’re receiving is bogus and unhelpful, or you’re hoping all the books and free videos will somehow get you out of taking uncomfortable action. Looks like you all need better guidance and more action.
Ringing any bells?
If you’re reading through this and thinking “Wow, that is SO me!” and you’re excited about the possibility of discovering a more confident and REAL way of living, email me at email@example.com with the subject line “I’m keen!” and we can talk about next steps.
LET’S LOOK AT THE QUALITITATIVE ANSWERS NOW:
So, those are the facts and figures. I also looked at the comment-type answers and analysed the most commonly used words and phrases, to get a richer look at what’s going on behind these numbers.
Top 3 words/phrases about who you want to be or who you wish you were:
- “To enjoy life, relax, be less anxious, be calm under pressure, and feel good enough”
- “To be able to immediately tell people how you feel, to take action and be socially unstoppable”
- “Confident in myself, someone who handles conflict and takes risks”
Says it all, doesn’t it? People pleasing deprives you of self-confidence, risk-taking boldness, and the ability to deal with conflict in a relaxed, calm way. People pleasers are often too attached to being seen as “easygoing” to be able to unleash their true power and authentic selves. People pleasers often spend time being feminine or passive, without the necessary masculine actions that we all need to take sometimes, to build courage, respect and honesty.
Top 3 words/phrases about what causes you the most pain:
- “Worrying what others think of me, caring about being judged”
- “I’m not good enough”
- “Lonely / loneliness”
It was painful for me to review these answers, because I know how it feels. People pleasing keeps everyone else happy but leaves you feeling alone, unloved, and constantly at risk of being abandoned.
People pleasers are often unable to see the dark truth: that they create these feelings themselves by failing to express themselves honestly and shamelessly, and that it has nothing to do with what other people think of them, or how much others like them.
That’s why I called my program The Honesty Effect – it’s all about unleashing the huge mass of honesty that you hide under the surface, without having to worry how others will react.
Top 3 words/phrases about what you want from life:
- “More fun, better career, better perspective on life”
- “Social freedom, to be able to enjoy people’s company and join in more without worrying”
- “More friends, better friends, comfortable friendships, deeper connections, to share my life with someone special or a wide friends circle”
The word “better” came up so much I got sick of it! This shows that people pleasers can see there’s a potential they’re not reaching, something they feel held back on, especially when it comes to connections with other people. The exciting part is that they don’t realize how powerful they are, and that with some slight tweaks to their behaviour these dreams are easily accomplished and totally realistic.
We People Pleasers have some subtle differences, dependent usually on childhood influences (e.g. whether we had to show off to get love, or whether we had to protect ourselves from harmful forms of attention). Underneath these surface-differences are the same fears, mental patterns, and unhelpful beliefs.
We have strengths that are waiting to be unleashed. We’re good at reading people and are hyper-sensitive to how people are feeling. We are compassionate, kind and giving. All the elements for a great connection are there.
What we are missing is simple: the ability to initiate and handle confrontations. Whether it’s setting a firm boundary with a disrespectful person, risking a rejection by expressing attraction, or asking for something we haven’t been given permission to ask for, confrontations scare us the most.
And that’s the key.
The Honesty Effect program is all about confrontations. By the end of 12 weeks you might not yet be fully confident, but you WILL have learned everything you need to create and handle healthy confrontations. You’ll learn how to express yourself honestly without losing compassion, no matter who’s around or what the stakes are. You’ll get the blueprint to social freedom – the ability to really be yourself.