How to Cure People Pleasing

Michelle Brea via Compfight

Sometimes I’m a people-pleaser. I think many artists are bent in that general direction.

As artists, we often want applause, recognition or just the satisfaction of knowing we’ve made a difference. None of those things are innately wrong…until they become an obsession.

I know I can be overzealous at times.

I want to be wanted.

I like to be liked.

And I pretend it doesn’t matter to me if someone doesn’t like me–but it does matter.

Why? Because making people happy makes me happy–that’s why I love humor–that’s why I love entertaining, writing and any type of creating that changes something in someone.

Laugh it Up

So how do we fix a people-pleasing mentality?

I don’t know, but the only thing I can suggest is a bit of humor for tempering.

In that light, I present to you three miserable attempts at people pleasing, compliments of my dayjob…

1. Refuse to call people by their actual, real-life names.

There’s someone at work who’s name I got wrong when I first met her. She gave me a look as if to say “and you’re our PR Manager?”Look well deserved.

I called her the wrong name again this past week–and I’ve known her for about six months now. Impressive? Prolly not?

2. Ignore crucial information.

Leaving a voicemail the other day for a newspaper at work: “Yes, this is Andrew Zahn. I’d like to know to whom I should send press releases to or if you’d rather me submit them to your general information inbox. You can reach me at….er…my number is…(reaching for my own business card, forgetting my own phone number)…sorry I have so many numbers I just can’t seem to…”

It’s too painful to continue this story…but it didn’t get any better.


3. Hit “reply all” instead of just ‘reply’.

Not that I’ve ever accidentally done this and accidentally sent an email to the president of my company.

The content? Let’s just say that it would be the equivalent of asking the President of the United States where the United States is located.

Not. Good.


Question: What about you? Are you a people-pleaser? Any good stories of your failed attempts?


Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • I’ve got 99 problems, and people-pleasing is #1. It’s what I do. More than the actual work, my number one responsibly on the job is keeping a select cadre of folks happy. It’s exhausting. My wife’s health has taken action turn this year, and my creative outlet (read: blog) is tanking.

    But it’s all good–I have a job, a great family, and God loves me. So what do I have to complain about? Sometimes dreams just die. Time to find a new dream.

    • Dying dreams are necessary….but no one likes to really write about those.

      Dying dreams take us to new heights of faith, contentment, joy and even…new and better dreams!

      Lotsa love to you Chad!

  • One of my team members asked me for a day off yesterday. I agonized a bit over telling her no since I had too many off that day. I don’t like saying no. That being said, after the initial angst, I don’t have a problem doing it.

  • Great honesty, Andrew. Thanks! I can identify with the people-pleasing bent – it’s a hard tug between the desire to step out and do something you believe is right (at the expense of displeasing people), and staying safe in order to please – actually it is often not even just pleasing people, it is simple not displeasing people. It’s not something that people always notice. When you ‘people please’ in art (ie, play it safe so as not to offend), we are ‘people not-displeasing’. It’s a status quo thing. In order to truly people please we need to step out and run the risk of being divisive because if we are going to genuinely please some people we will probably displease others. The question is, do we want a few people on board and a few people not on board, or everyone just disinterested and ambivalent?

    Sorry, that was me thinking aloud. I just kept going…

    • Those are important insight and distinctions for every artist.

      I say let’s stir the pot and shuffle things up. We like to see change and status quo won’t make that happen!

      Thanks, as always, for your insight and opinion.

  • I tend to be a people pleaser myself. It’s not all the time, but I’ve noticed it more in my life. I don’t really have any funny stories (I blocked them all out of my memory), but I’m sure there were a few.