3 Easy Steps to Keep from Being a Pushover

Man saying hush or be quiet with finger on lips, close up with selective focus

Are you someone who defaults to ‘yes’ when you would rather say no? Does everyone in the office come to you for help? Starting to feel resentful? Want to do something about it?
There are three easy steps you can take right now to take back your power and stop being a pushover. And you can do it nicely!
1. Master the art of the Nice No
There are ways and ways of saying no. You don’t have to be aggressive or rude to refuse to do something that’s not convenient, or that you don’t want to do. The easiest way to change your mindset about saying no is to be straightforward, polite and calm. You don’t need to give an excuse or explanation, just a matter of fact refusal.
If you find it difficult to say no, write yourself an all-purpose script that goes something like “No, doing X isn’t possible today/this week/that night.” That’s all. Tailor it to what feels right for you but keep it short, sweet and polite.
2. Stop apologizing
The first step to stop the apology reflex is to quarantine the word sorry to use only when it’s appropriate. Pushovers use ‘sorry’ as a defensive weapon essentially saying don’t hit me for not doing what you want. Sorry gives away your power and puts you at fault in what should be a no-fault situation.
Apologizing is asking the other person to keep pushing to see if you’ll cave in, as it signals powerlessness. Keep your refusal straightforward, polite and respectful. And don’t say sorry!
3. Offer a compromise
There’s a balance between being a pushover and being unreasonable. Sometimes every team member has to go outside their job description to get the work done. If you’re asked to work a weekend or late, and you really can’t or don’t want to, offer an alternative. Perhaps you could offer to come in early or take work home or reprioritize your work so you can help straight away.
Getting a reputation as a pushover is not a good career move. If you signal powerlessness all the time you’ll get stuck with boring projects, miss out on promotions and find yourself washing the cups after meetings. You will win more respect and trust if you set and maintain clear boundaries and keep the communication channels open. And being a good team member means balancing out assertiveness with cooperation.