Written by Leah Sinclair
Emma Reed Turrell, author of Please Yourself: How To Stop People-Pleasing And Transform The Way You Live, shares her theory on the different types of people-pleaser and the one thing they all have in common.
When you think of people-pleasers, there are a few telltale signs that are easy to identify. From putting others’ needs before their own to not speaking up when feeling hurt, people-pleasers have a tendency to put their own needs on the back-burner in favour of being all things to all people.
But even among people-pleasers, there are different types with varying motives and personality traits – and author Emma Reed Turrell has identified four different people-pleasers to know about.
Reed Turrell, who wrote the book Please Yourself: How To Stop People-Pleasing And Transform The Way You Live, outlines the different types of people-pleaser and gives advice on how they can change their habits.
The Classic people-pleaser
“The classic is a people-pleaser who wants everything to be perfect. They go the extra mile to plan the best party or buy the most thoughtful gift,” says Reed Turrell. “Nothing is too much trouble for a classic and they thrive on the appreciation they get when they’ve done more than their fair share (again).”
The Shadow people-pleaser
According to Turrell, the shadow is a little different to the classic people-pleaser, as they are someone who “grew up in the shadow of someone else who took up the attention”.
“They make a great deputy or wing person and they get their validation from helping other people achieve their goals,” she says.
The Pacifier people-pleaser
The third type of people-pleaser is the pacifier, who is driven by not displeasing people. Reed Turrell says the pacifier is the mediator in their group, as they tend to prioritise “peace over preference”.
“They rarely speak their truth for fear of upsetting anyone,” she adds.
The Resistor people-pleaser
“The fourth type is not really a pleaser at all, at least not at first glance,” says Reed Turrell. “This is the resistor, the one who would have you believe they don’t care what you think but in reality, they are equally hamstrung by the pressures to please but have worked out that if you don’t play, you can’t lose.”
Reed Turrell says the resistor tends to keep people at arm’s length, opt out of relationships and present an artificially thickened skin to protect them from the pain of rejection.
These different types of people-pleaser show a key difference in the way they process their emotions and how their people-pleasing ways present themselves – but they all share a common problem.
“Even though the different pleasing types have developed out of different conditions, they share a fear of rejection and a focus on other people’s feelings over their own.
“By tuning back into their own feelings, a people-pleaser can start to understand and meet their own authentic needs, and develop the self-regulation to tolerate other people’s disappointment.”
The author suggests that people-pleasers who want to make a change should start “small” by creating a “joy list.”
“A joy list is a list of little things that give you pleasure and can be a helpful go-to guide when you’re giving up your dependence on other people’s praise and learning to become your own supply of satisfaction,” she says.
“Start with people you trust or relationships that don’t feel so high-stakes, and find out how people react when you speak your truth and state your preferences. You might be surprised to find that your authentic self is already unconditionally OK with the ones who matter, or you might need to circle back and renegotiate if you don’t get it quite right the first time, but that’s OK too.
“Relationships are all about rupture and repair – and remember that if people are only happy with you when you’re people-pleasing them, the end of that relationship might not be the wrong result.”
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