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The Disease to Please

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The Disease to Please

Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

People pleasing might sound sweet, but to many people it’s actually a serious psychological problem.

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Editorial Rating



  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples
  • For Beginners


Why do some people try so hard to please others that end up pleasing no one - including themselves? Harriet B. Braiker anchors this phenomenon in early childhood problems, such as guilt or low self-esteem, and shows how it harms adult relationships, including those at work. Although she emphasizes interpersonal relationships off the job, executives, managers and employees at all levels will still find her book helpful in life and in work. Braiker describes three primary manifestations (compulsive behavior, distorted thinking, and avoidance of negative feelings) of being a people-pleaser, and notes that this problem can stem from a personal mind-set, a habit or an intense aversion to conflict. Most helpfully, she explains strategies for more productive behavior. Sometimes the explanations and self-help quizzes become repetitive, but her examples keep the book’s pace flowing. Thus getAbstract recommends this book as - dare we say it? - a real crowd pleaser.


Do You Have the Disease to Please?

The Disease to Please is the ailment you have if you are focused on wanting to please others to the detriment of your own needs. This intense need to please can stem from compulsive behavior, distorted thinking or the desire to avoid negative feelings. Though most people are affected by all three reactions, generally one reason fits best. In other words, you may have a people-pleasing mindset, a people-pleasing habit or a people-pleasing feeling. Once you determine if you are a people pleaser, you can overcome the problem with focused attention and activity, as outlined in a 21-Day Action Plan.

If you are a people pleaser, first determine what kind of people pleaser you are, and then you can begin to change.

  • You are a cognitive people pleaser if your behavior stems from your mindset and you have distorted ways of thinking.
  • You are a behavioral people pleaser if your behavior stems from habit and you behave compulsively.
  • You are an emotionally avoidant people pleaser if your behavior stems from your feelings, and you act in response to fearful emotions.

The Dangers of Being a People Pleaser...

About the Author

Dr. Harriet B. Braiker  has been a practicing clinical psychologist and management consultant in Los Angeles for more than 25 years. She wrote several highly successful, popular psychology books and numerous scholarly, award-winning research textbooks and other publications. A former contributing editor and columnist for Working Woman, she has written for many other national women’s magazines. She has been a featured guests on CNN and on numerous talk shows, including Oprah, The Today Show, Larry King, Live with Regis and Hour Magazine.

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