Is People-Pleasing Contagious?

Eric Stone
2 min readAug 9, 2020


How many times did you say I’m sorry today? In matters of social and professional interactions, over-pleasing can feel like an addiction…

Audience pleasing, apologising and patronising are very easy traps to fall into when interacting socially, speaking in front of groups or while communicating with people professionally.

So is the need to cater needlessly thinking that being soft spoken is the key to win hearts.

Have you ever realised how many times you hear “I’m sorry” in a day? Put it to the test, it’s mind blowing. On the surface, these habits can appear as legitimate forms of expression or harmless ways to handle people. On the contrary, they are powerful enemies and should be avoided at all cost.

People at large like audiences at a concert prefer to be dazzled and inspired rather than be catered to or worse be patronised. In my book, people pleasing is a kind of disease because underneath it masks a “compensation mechanism” for our nervousness or for not really feeling confident or grounded.

In matters of social and professional interactions, over-pleasing can feel like an addiction, it send a direct subconscious message that you are walking around with a metaphorical copy of “Co-Dependent No More” under your arm as you speak. Forget the hoped-for Holy Bible effect! It’s the wrong book you are carrying!

Catering is a “people-pleaser attitude”. It can be very subtle as we all grow up wanting to please. It’s a deeply ingrained cultural and social habit.

These attitudes transfer over when we speak or express ourselves publicly or professionally. They are loud “unconscious” intentions and carry a clear message.

Too much politeness is too often a sure sign that someone is lacking confidence. It can also be read as a manipulative strategy. The subtext becomes “what does he/she want that he/she has to be extra polite?

Apologising too much is another example. Catering, apology and too much politeness are counter-productive as they rob anyone of direct contact and forward action. It is nearly impossible to be free inside of that.

Catering, patronising, apologising and exaggerated politeness as modes or styles, come from poor self-confidence and lack of clear purpose. Trying to “make friends” with strangers without a clear invitation or a clear sign can be devastating as well; the effect is as disappointing as a magician showing you how the trick is done. It robs us of the “magic” of the trick. We love to be fooled and conquered as an audience member. It is an important part of the game and a subconscious expectation.

“Cater, patronise or apologise too much or inauthentically to any audience and they will turn their backs on you!”

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Eric Stone

Miles Davis said music is the space between the notes, then the music of your personal success is the space between your everyday behaviours, moods & attitudes.