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How to Recognize Pushover Signs and Push Back

By Sandy Schroeder

Sometimes it is really hard to say no.  It could be your best friend making the request, or you may be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. Whatever the situation, if you keep saying yes when you really mean no, start looking for the reasons and learn how to flip them around.

What might be some of those reasons?

You dread confrontation – You may know exactly what you want to say, but following through is tough. Start by writing down what you want to say to prepare you for what you will say when you see the person. Then make it happen. Each time you do, it may seem a little easier, preparing you for those big moments when you ask for a raise, say no to a dangerous request, or seek a commitment.

Apology becomes a way of life – Only apologize if you really need to and skip automatically saying you are sorry when something happens that is out of your control.  Keeping everybody else happy is really not your job. It is too tempting for others to take advantage if they know you will always let them.  

Saying yes becomes a habit – When people get to know you, and find that you always say yes, a groove can develop. It is easier for them to ask when it is quite likely that you will say yes.  Stepping back and deciding if you are really pleased with this arrangement could give you the power to say no. Once you do, it will be easier to evaluate each request on its own merit.  

Change can be frightening – Simply saying yes often keeps things just the way they are. Jobs, houses, partners and friends can all change, and sometimes should. If you have fallen into the habit of never saying no, dreading confrontation or always wanting to please others, you may be missing some amazing opportunities.  Accepting the possibility of change could open new doors as you begin to imagine what is out there.

Pleasing others just takes over – If you have fallen into the habit of being more concerned about what others think, and pleasing them before yourself, saying no is not likely to happen. But when this way of life becomes more and more tiring, it’s time to pull back and start taking stock of what you want. Of course you want your friends, family and co-workers to be pleased, but it is possible to strike a balance too. Take each request as it comes and bounce it off of yourself, seeing if it really pleases you. Then say yes or no. It won’t be easy at first, but in the long run you will be a lot happier.

Going from pushover to pushing back can be fun as you see the startled look on the faces of others or feel the satisfaction in having things work out the way you want them to. It may not always be simple or easy, but once you get the hang of it I doubt if you will ever go back.


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