Sometimes a compromise really is a sound way to end a confrontation, but do it often enough and people will start perceiving you as a pushover. What's worse is that some may take advantage of your passive nature and manipulate you into doing something you ultimately don't enjoy. Whether you are at your home, workplace or among friends, failing to assert yourself can hold you back from success. Success may mean getting a good deal at a car dealership, a promotion at work or any other goal you may have set for yourself.
Here are some tips that will help you assess if you are indeed a pushover and some advice on how to grow into a more assertive individual...
What Makes You a Pushover
1. You Don't Say "No" Often Enough: Nobody likes saying "no," but saying "yes" all the time isn't always the most viable option either. If you are a consistent yes-person, then you are likely doing plenty of favours at your own expense.
2. You Cover for Others without a Good Reason: Maybe it was your sibling who made a mistake or maybe it was your co-worker. One way or another, for some odd reason, you feel compelled to keep it to yourself, even if it's a somewhat big deal. Note that people may be more negligent on purpose whenever they are around you -- because they know about your trait to cover the mistakes of others. If you expose them, you could be doing them a favour.
3. You Tend to Doubt Yourself: None of us can ever be fully sure of ourselves, but some people question themselves at every turn, which prevents them from being more proactive in their lives. If you consistently doubt your own actions, then you will allow others to dictate who you are and what you should be thinking.
4. You Don't Like Providing Feedback: We all need feedback sometimes -- because no one is perfect. However, some people like to avoid providing feedback because they are afraid of hurting the feelings of others. Yet feedback avoidance can harm them as well as you, especially if the issue involves you personally. So don't hold back!
5. You Never Argue with Anyone: If someone makes a statement that you don't agree with, yet you decide to keep it to yourself, then you're clearly avoiding an argument. Sure, you can't debate every little thing with everyone, but if it's a heady issue that affects you personally or someone you know, then you should definitely voice your disagreements.
What You Can Do to Become Tougher
1. Pick the Right Targets: Don't start by saying "no" to someone whose response can affect you in a big way, like your supervisor or a police officer. Pick a couple of easier targets first, like your spouse or a friend. If they routinely do something that bothers you, then express your displeasure and work out a solution. They should be willing to cooperate -- unless, of course, they actually enjoy annoying you, in which case you should probably rethink your relationship with them.
2. Express What's on Your Mind: If someone wrongs you, never hide your feelings. Calmly express your thoughts to the person at fault and they should reverse their mistake. Even if they don't, you will still feel good, simply because you've opened your mouth and spoken about the issue.
3. Argue: If someone keeps wronging you routinely -- even after you have calmly told them so -- then you may want to make sure they stop. So, stand up for yourself and prove that you are right. If your argument is sound, then the other person should eventually back off and may even respect you for it. Just make sure you don't let the issue turn into a fight that no one can win.
4. Be Firm: Whenever you argue with someone, always try to be strategic. State what you need, want and expect to make sure people understand where you are coming from. Some may try to remind you what a pushover you are, especially if your new behaviour surprises them, but your best bet is to ignore their words and stick to your convictions. Keep pushing them until the two of you reach a solution. Just don't bully them into submission because it's another extreme that you don't want to be associated with.
5. Stay Resilient: You may have taken a stand once, but if you don't stay assertive at all times, that effort would be wasted. Remind yourself to always speak up and argue when necessary. Don't back off if you lose an argument either; tactfully retreat and try debating the issue again at a later time -- but make better arguments every time you do so.
Don't Be a Bully Either
Nobody respects a pushover, but everyone unanimously hates bullies. Be assertive as often as possible -- just don't forget that compromise is often a viable option too. Striking this kind of balance may be a challenge at first, but there are plenty of people who can manage it, which means that you can do it too!
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