Am I a People-pleaser or Manipulator?

At some point, we have all been guilty of trying too hard to make everyone happy. We might do it as a trauma response, a survival mechanism, or as a strategy to get ahead in our personal and professional lives. On the surface, we can justify our tendency to please people as a way of being generous and selfless.

However, there is a clear difference between willingly giving oneself to make others happy and only doing so for fear of rejection or being an outcast. To make matters worse, unhealthy people-pleasing can affect your business negatively if left unaddressed. Moreover, you might even become the perpetrator of toxic manipulative behavior without realizing it.

But how do you tell the difference between the two, and how do you recognize these behaviors in yourself so that you can put a stop to them? Read on to learn more.

The Difference Between People-pleasing and Manipulative Behavior

More often than not, people-pleasers present themselves as helpful individuals who struggle to say no to others. They often have low self-esteem and are mostly aware of their tendency or habit of people-pleasing. A chronic people-pleaser is always concerned about how people perceive them and do not want to earn anyone’s disapproval. In other words, people-pleasers usually strive to do good without deliberately looking to benefit themselves. They try to make everyone happy from a place of anxiety and a desire to be liked for their own survival.

On the other hand, a person who exhibits manipulative behavior is often a detriment to others. They will utilize controlling and influencing tactics to mold people’s perceptions and responses to them in order to get what they want, regardless of what the consequences are. While a people-pleaser may fear retribution or being seen as a bad person, a manipulative person has little to no concern for what others think of them. In their mind, they are in the right and can even portray themselves as victims if needed. For a manipulator, they may only strive to make everyone happy in a self-serving manner, not because they fear rejection.

How People-pleasing Can Be a Type of Manipulative Behavior

Despite being two completely different personality types, there are some similarities between people-pleasers and manipulators. In many ways, it is possible to use people-pleasing tactics as a way to manipulate the individuals in one’s life. Manipulators do this is by deliberately misrepresenting their intentions and identity to get the outcome that they like. Instead of being genuine, a manipulator’s actions are performative and are truly only for show. For them, doing what others want is merely a setup for their eventual betrayal.

Moreover, many people-pleasers and manipulators also withhold information from others. However, a manipulative person will do this to control the outcome. A people-pleaser usually lies by omission to keep the peace or to prevent someone from getting hurt. Truly, the main difference between simply being a people-pleaser and doing it to manipulate others is in the intent of the person. Though a people-pleaser does so to avoid conflict and to genuinely make those around them happy, a manipulator only people-pleases to control others.

Why Being a People-pleaser or a Manipulator Is a Disservice to Yourself

Regardless of your intentions, people-pleasing or manipulating can cause harm not only to others but also to yourself. When you exist solely to make other people happy or do what you have to in order to skew the odds in your favor, you’ll end up leading an exhausting and inauthentic life. These kinds of unhealthy behaviors often stem from feeling distrustful of others. As a result, you may present a diluted or false version of yourself to the world, leading you to cultivate relationships that are based on lies and half-truths.

If your behavior inevitably backfires, you leave people disappointed or angry at you because of your deception. While this might be a hard pill to swallow, the only way you can have genuine bonds with others is when you’re fully honest with them, mutually understanding of boundaries, and brave enough to face the consequences if you mess up. Correcting this behavior is often a lifelong journey, but that does not mean that it is impossible to do so.

What You Can Do About It

Correcting people-pleasing and manipulative behavior often begins with taking a look at your current surroundings and relationships. Are these people good for you or are they toxic to your development? If you realize that you are not in a place where you can be your authentic self, letting go is an important first step. Moreover, you could also be experiencing issues with self-esteem and self-worth, and you’ll need to resolve them so that you can move forward. It may be necessary to seek professional help so that you can have the support that you need to navigate these internal issues.

Once you learn how to live authentically and become more self-assured, you won’t have to resort to people-pleasing and manipulation to get what you want. This will lead to healthier relationships and a more productive mindset overall.

Want to know if you’re a people pleaser or a manipulator? Contact Mary Jo today.


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Am I a People-pleaser or Manipulator?