We’ve all experienced a People Pleaser at some point, whether it’s the co-worker who excessively compliments the CEO, or an acquaintance who maintains a sunny disposition in even the worst of situations. No matter how well-intentioned, there is something slightly irking in those that live to give. According to our favourite philosopher and author, Alain De Botton, over-friendly folk regularly perform the following:
1. They agree with everything
Alain refers to this as “ritualistic approval”, where, despite the subject matter, the over-friendly person is likely to agree.
2. They give constant approval
The pleaser gives compliments on seemingly insignificant things, such as a hair clip, your water bottle or your ability to look immaculate every day. Alain suggests that, while good intentioned, such barrages of compliments can feel jarring because they usually do not connect with our own value system on achievement.
3. They are always upbeat
Other than just complimenting all facets of your life, they are always upbeat, which can often can feel like you are melancholic in comparison.
However, those who consider themselves slightly less-friendly, and queasier at the use of excess compliments often possess these traits:
1. Disagreement isn’t always bad
They don’t mind being contradicted and challenged (when their dignity isn’t attached to the issue) because it means learning something useful in the company of an intelligent counterpart.
2. They want to earn their praise
They only want to be complimented on things that they are actively proud of. For them, the currency of praise depends entirely on it not being spent too quickly.
3. They are after genuine relationship
They are cheered up by people who appear to understand them, even if it means not having a solution. So, not just people who try and throw positive quotes at a situation, but who also show a willingness to travel through complicated and messy issues, which may not have a positive outcome in the end.
Alain goes further to assert that intense kindness is, in fact, entrenched within modern consumer society, particularly seen in customer service, when attendants have clear structures that require them to exert niceties, despite the reaction of the customer.
Alain also suggests to those who are finding themselves constantly at the feet of other’s approval can often spring from a loss of confidence in their own validity. He also preaches that, in order to succeed in pleasing anyone, we must first accept the risk that we may also displease them by just being who we truly are.