Every day we interact with people with a variety of personality issues. Sometimes we recognize these issues and put names to them: codependent, enmeshed, addicted, loner, and passive-aggressive. These behavior patterns are ones that we mostly know about and even how to deal with.
Another common behavior pattern I see is the people pleaser. They are often easy to spot in behavior but can be challenging to define with words. I can say for certain I am not a people pleaser. I know a few people pleasers, though. They seem to have several similar traits that make them easy to spot. Once you know what to look for, you can learn how to interact with them better.
1. New friends mean the world
These new friends don't know the people pleaser and, thus, can't judge them. It's easier to be nice to the people who don't know you well. The people pleaser (PP) works hard to let these new friends know that they are important, invite them to events and make them the center of attention. The new people feel really wanted. The down side is the moment other new people come on scene, the PP moves on.
2. Opinions of others are all important
Because the PP has difficulty in how they view themselves and how others view them, validation from others become all important. If someone challenges them, they will avoid this person at all costs or eliminate them from their circle of friends. Appearances are of utmost importance to the people pleaser. They need to make sure that they are doing the "cool" things. With the advent of social media, it is has become easier for the PP to keep up appearances.
3. Confrontation is avoided
No one likes confrontation, but a PP will lose sleep because of a potential confrontation. Because of the desire to appear cool or hip, they often maintain numerous shallow relationships. This is because deeper relationships take work and often include confrontations or critiques of behavior.
4. Time-management doesn't exist
A PP is constantly moving to avoid rest, which could then possibly lead to self-reflection. They will make commitments to others that they will consistently get out of or not keep. They look good because they agree to do something, and then come up with what seems to a perfectly legitimate excuse for why they can't keep the commitment.
A PP gets stuck emotionally, because they are compelled to be nice instead of expressing how they really feel about things. If they were to express how they really feel, someone may not agree and it could lead to a confrontation. This would lead to a PP feeling overwhelmed, because somehow they are less of a person if someone were to think poorly of them.
Due to the constant pressure to perform and keep up appearances, a PP often suffers from anxiety and discontentment. These mental health issues often go unrecognized and be seen by the PP as simply a fact of life. It can affect family relationships in a negative way if they don't get the right help.
If you run into this type of personality, know that they need your help and understanding. It will be difficult to help this person see that they need help. Yet, they need someone like you in their life. They need someone willing to accept their ways, while also being willing to make consistent attempts to help them see that there is another way to interact with people. It will be a challenge, but ultimately will be worth it.
_Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Dr. David Simonsen's blog, DavidSimonsen.net