“Nice” vs People Pleasing: The 3 Crucial Differences

Are you being nice or people pleasing?

Read on 3 psychological differences between a secure person who is also kind and an insecure person who’s people pleasing.

Table of Contents: Nice vs People Pleasing (3 Key Differences)

How to tell the difference between people pleasing and just being nice

I saw a question on Reddit the other day that was really interesting:

“How do I tell if I’m a people pleaser or if I’m just someone with a really big heart?”

I think this is really important thing to clarify. So in this post, I’m going to be covering the three main differences between someone who is secure and nice and someone who is an insecure and people pleasing.

(By the way, if you relate with this post, stay tuned till the very end, because I’m going to be giving away a freebie on how to stop people pleasing)

People Pleaser vs Secure Nice Person

Let’s first define the people pleaser and the secure nice person.

What is people pleasing?

When you’re people pleasing, you feel like you have to act a certain way in order to be liked, in order to earn affection.

People pleasing tends to show up as putting others needs before yours. It can be feeling like you can’t speak up for yourself. People pleasing often shows up as bottling up emotions, or not being yourself in order to be accepted and be liked.

The underlying reason for a lot of people pleasing comes down to this: A low sense of self-worth.

You feel like you’re not good enough, so you feel like you need to earn affection by giving, helping, and making people happy. You feel like you have to earn people’s affection. You feel like you have to act a certain way and not ruffle feathers in order to fit in with people and be liked.

What about secure people who happen to be kind?

Now, on the flip side, let’s look at the secure person who just happens to be nice and have a really big heart.

The secure person naturally likes to help. They naturally like to give to others.

The people pleaser and the secure person who just happens to be really nice have a lot in common: They like to see other people happy. They go above and beyond for others. And they don’t like conflict.

But there are also some important differences between the two.

So let’s break it down.

venn diagram

Making Others Happy

One of the things that the two parties have in common is that they clearly like making other people happy.

They like to see other people happy. They like to make sure that their friends are comfortable. They like to make sure that their family is having a good time. They want to make sure that their partner is in a good mood. And they want to make sure that their coworkers and boss are pleased with their work.

The difference between a people pleaser and a person a secure person who just happens to be nice is the intention behind why they want to make people happy.

People Pleasers Need to Make Others Happy

People pleasers need to make people around them happy.

They have a low sense of self-worth, meaning they don’t feel like they’re enough as they are on their own and they need validation from external sources (family, friends, coworkers, romantic partner). They’re always trying to make other people happy because they need that external validation.

They think, “if I make this person happy, they’re going to like me and I’m going to feel good. And I really need to feel good because I’m not capable of making myself feel good. So I’m relying on making this other person happy in order to get the validation that I can’t give myself.”

There’s almost this desperate need to wanting to make people happy. Why? Because they believe subconsciously that if they make people happy, that they will be liked and feel like they’re enough.

Secure People Want to Make Others Happy (they don’t need to)

On the other hand, someone who is confident and kind also want people to be happy, but they don’t need it.

The difference is the intention. The confident person wants people to be happy, but it’s not necessary for them to feel good about themselves. They don’t seek external validation quite as much because they feel comfortable in their own skin.

And so if someone’s having not so great of a time…sure, the secure person want them to be happy. But it’s not like their own happiness depends on this other person being happy, because they’re comfortable in themselves.

They know that they don’t need to make other people happy all the time or problem solve for them all the time in order to be liked.

In fact, they don’t really need to be liked quite as much as people pleasers.

Sure, they want to be liked by everyone. They want to get along with everybody. But they know that there’s some people that they’re maybe not going to get along with as much, and that they’re not going to be liked by everyone.

The secure person is secure enough with themselves to be okay with that.

venn diagram

Going Above and Beyond for Others

Another thing that the people pleaser has in common with the kind secure person is that they both go above and beyond for others.

They’re usually both the first person that you call on if you need help moving. They’re really good listeners when you’re down. They always they check in on that new coworker or on people who look like they’re having a hard time. They want to make sure that everybody’s comfortable.

People Pleasers Struggle with Asking for Help in Return

The main difference here is that people pleasers go above and beyond for others, but they’re not comfortable asking for help when they need it.

So they often find that relationships are very one sided.

They find themselves doing most of the work or pulling all the weight. They feel like they give and give and give, but they find that other people don’t really reciprocate. They’re afraid to ask, or they just don’t feel comfortable asking for what they need.

That’s because for a people pleaser, the most important thing is to keep the peace, to feel like they’re accepted.

Even though they go above and beyond for everybody else, they have a hard time asking what they need in return because they’re worried it’s risky because it might make somebody uncomfortable (or the other person is going to like them less). They often hesitate to ask because they’re really worried about being too needy or asking for too much.

So they hold themselves back.

Confident People Know How to Ask for What They Need

On the flip side, the secure, kind person also goes above and beyond for others, and they’re comfortable asking for what they want and need in return.

They understand that relationships are give and take and they know what’s reasonable to ask from other people.

A really important distinction here is that they feel like they are worthy of getting what they want and need.

They feel good about themselves enough to deserve the things that they want and need, and to get those things from the people in their lives.

This is a really important distinction because the people pleaser doesn’t feel like they’re worthy of getting those things, so they don’t even bother asking half of the time.

venn diagram

Nobody Likes Conflict

Another thing that the people pleaser has in common with a secure person who just happens to be kind is that neither one of them want conflict.

Neither one of them want drama. Unlike narcissists, sociopaths, or people who stir up drama because that makes them feel important, neither the people pleaser nor the secure person wants conflict.

They don’t get a rise out of stirring the pot or out of making people upset. They don’t like the tension that comes up from conflicts and from arguments.

People Pleasers Avoid Conflict At All Cost

But here’s the key difference:

People pleasers will avoid conflict at all cost. But confident, kind people know that it’s a natural, healthy part of all relationships, and they’re comfortable confronting issues when necessary.

People pleasers tend to downplay their own wants and needs. They bury their feelings. They avoid bringing up things that bother them.

Sometimes they don’t even acknowledge that there’s a problem because they’re so worried about creating conflict.

They worry that if they bring up an issue, disagree, or say what they need, that it’ll disrupt the peace, and then that source of validation is going to be gone. They don’t want to risk that connection, even if it’s just temporary, because it’s going to make them feel like crap.

So they bury their feelings and deal with the anxiety and frustration internally, rather than feeling comfortable enough to tell the other part that something is bothering them.

Secure People Know it’s Important to Confront Issues

On the flip side, people who are secure and kind also don’t like conflict or the tension that happens from disagreeing with someone, but they know that conflict is a natural and normal part of all healthy relationships.

And the confident person knows that they need to be able to speak up for what they need, to confront issues as they happen, rather than just sweeping them under the rug in order for relationships to remain healthy.

People are all different, right? We all have different opinions. We all have different wants, needs, worldviews, desires, and interests.

So we’re not all naturally going to get along with each other all the time.

Conflict is just part of interacting with other people.

The secure person knows this. They know that confronting issues, bringing up things that bother them, and working through disagreements is really important. It’s one of the key elements of healthy relationships, and it allows people to stay on the same page and continue to strengthen their relationship with one another.

The confident person also knows that even if things get a little bit uncomfortable with the other party, that things will be okay, that it’s going to work out. They don’t have this awful anxiety or dread around conflict.

Venn Diagram: Difference between a people pleaser and a kind secure person

Learn the 10 Strategies to Stop People Pleasing

If you relate more to the people pleaser side of this venn diagram, make sure to download my FREE GUIDE on how to stop people pleasing.

It’s a PDF e-book that it contains ten strategies on how to stop people pleasing, speak up for yourself, and create better relationships, so you can show up more authentically with the people in your life.

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I want to know from you:

How does people pleasing affect your relationships, whether they’re romantic, social, or professional?

Let me know in the comments below.

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