Being a People Pleaser Can Get You into Trouble

Being a People Pleaser Can Get You into Trouble

[WARNING: This blog post contains a visual image which some readers may find offensive and which could cause nightmares. Elderly people, young children and readers with weak constitutions may wish to avoid proceeding further.]

There is something seriously wrong with me. No, I’m not talking about my moderate OCD. Or my phobia of snakes. Or that I listen to Gregorian Chants – even though each one sounds exactly the same.

No, I have an even deeper personality flaw: I’m a chronic people pleaser. Throughout my life, I’ve been hard-wired to want to please people and have sometimes gone to ridiculous lengths not to disappoint them. A few cases in point (all of these are true):

In high school, the class I hated the most was Latin. But my teacher, Mr. Vandenberg, really liked having me as a student. So, at the end of the year, he asked if I’d sign up for Latin 2. I swore I would NEVER take Latin 2. But I caved, because I did not want to disappoint him – which is why I also took Latin 3 the year after that.

In college, I always gave my roommate the bed closest to the window. In grad school, I offered my apartment mate the nicer bedroom. Not because I was a great guy, but because I wanted them to like me.

Once when I was a sales manager my team had a record-breaking quarter. I took them out to celebrate. The reps only wanted one thing from me at the party: to watch me smoke a fat eight-inch cigar they’d bought just for the occasion. I don’t smoke. I’d never smoked anything stronger than a candy cigarette before that moment. But they all were cheering me on, and well, I didn’t want to disappoint. So, I puffed, gasped and choked my way through the entire cigar. It was torture. And they loved that I was a good sport. Then I excused myself to the bathroom so I could throw up.

A few years later, I was boarding a commercial jetliner on a business trip with co-workers. One of them urged me to walk into the cockpit, hold out my boarding pass and tell the pilot with a straight face, “I believe you’re in my seat.” So, I did exactly as he asked. Thankfully, I was not arrested. But that may explain why I’m now on the terrorist watch list.

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