Do you have a pushy person in your life who’s pushing over the edge?
Before you deck them, take a look at this list.
I’ll lay out a point-by-point guide for how to deflect their pushiness right back in their smug faces.
13 no bullsh*t ways to deal with a pushy person (practical guide)
1) Just say no
Just saying no is one of the most important no bullsh*t ways to deal with a pushy person.
The key here is to say no when you could just stay silent, shrug or back down from a fight.
If you’re being pushed at work, in your relationships, by colleagues, by family or by friends, the crucial word is no.
Draw your line in the sand and let the pushy person know where you stand.
Make it clear you understand why they are asking you to do something and respect where they’re coming from, but also make it clear that you have specific and set reasons for not wish to do what they demand.
“It’s okay to say no: be clear about what will not work for you about their request.
They might accuse you of being selfish if you communicate what you want or need, especially if it doesn’t meet their agenda.
But don’t let that scare you.”
2) Suggest alternatives
One of the reasons that pushy people get in an all-or-nothing mentality is that they’re used to two main outcomes from their behavior:
People either give in and do what they want.
Or people say no and walk away angrily.
The way to be different than either of these two groups, especially in a work or love context, is to go the third route.
This is to say no but then suggest an alternative that would work for you.
This is known as reaching a compromise.
You don’t want to do what they are demanding you do or believe or feel, but you are willing to share your perspective and another way to come at this situation.
For example maybe your boss is pushing a huge workload on you and saying you’re the only one with the skills to get this done in time.
You disagree about your boss’ repeated pressure, but say that with the help of your coworker on the parts your coworker would understand you feel confident it could get done in time.
3) Write it down
Another potentially very effective of the no bullsh*t ways to deal with a pushy person is to write them a letter where you lay out what’s not working for you and what is.
Think of it like a personal performance review.
If it’s professional, make it in the tone of informed feedback about how you’re feeling about them.
Putting this all down in a letter or an email is effective for two reasons.
Firstly, it allows you the time and space to be out of a reactive frame of mind and reflect on what you really want to say.
What is the core issue or demand going wrong or the core pushy behavior that’s about to push you over the edge, and what is just temporary annoyance with someone?
Secondly, it allows you the format to very specifically lay out what’s not working and what might work.
Instead of saying it in a time and place or fashion where it could blow up rapidly into drama, you’re writing it in black and white (or whatever font color you wish) and making it clear, reasonable and detailed.
Still, try to keep it under a couple of pages. Nobody wants to read War and Peace about why you find them an ass.
4) Become more proactive and assertive
Pushy people thrive on reactive and passive people. Reactive people rarely lead the charge and tend to only respond or react after the fact.
They are easy to influence and manipulate, because you can create the frame within which they react or act, especially if you are their boss, a family member or someone close to them.
The key that unlocks this emotional prison is to become more proactive and assertive.
Proactive means that even if you’re a shy person you start putting forward more of what your vision and what you want, instead of just reacting in favor or against what others want.
Assertive means a number of things about your behavior and attitude, including:
- Being unafraid to state exactly what you want and why
- Speaking up when you see something differently
- Walking with upright posture and making strong eye contact
- Orienting your body toward who you’re interacting with instead of away or half-away
- Dropping habits of gaslighting or self-deprecating words about yourself
- Stand up for yourself! You matter! This is your new reality!
Adopting and fully inculcating these assertive habits is one of the best no bullsh*t ways to deal with a pushy person.
5) What’s your agenda, friend?
We all have agendas, large and small. So do our bosses, the news being read on TV or the salesman next to the used car we’re looking at.
Most agendas are fairly situational.
My agenda in approaching a sandwich shop is to purchase and eat a delicious sandwich without overpaying for it.
The salesman’s agenda is to make a profit on the used car he’s selling without outright defrauding me to the point that he faces legal (or other) types of action.
Learning to recognize your own agenda and the agendas of others is a crucial step in terms of no bullsh*t ways to deal with a pushy person.
When you know why someone is pushing you and what they really want out of this pressure, you can push back effectively by either:
- Giving them alternate ways to obtain what they want that are more advantageous to you (win-win);
- Telling them no and putting them to work on prioritizing your agenda instead (you win, they lose).
“Knowing how to recognize and read agendas may be a surprisingly simple way to boost your effectiveness, gain confidence, and assert control over your time and life.”
6) Write your own story
If you’re experiencing trouble with pushy people, it’s vital that you find your own purpose in life like I suggested earlier.
It’s also vital that you write your own story.
Here’s the scary truth:
If you don’t write your own story, you’ll be written into a bit part in someone else’s story…
…And you might not like the part you get to play at all!
It might be too small…
Or you might be a bad guy…
Or you might be hated by all the other characters.
“Damn, well that doesn’t sound good at all!”
That’s because it’s not.
Writing your own story is about being clear on who you are and what your life means to you.
We all have our outer identity labels so it’s great to start there. Then go deeper into what motivates you, your core values and what you seek in life.
Your story can and will come true, but you need to always keep it on the horizon and watch out for others trying to fit you into their own version of who you are and what makes you useful or meaningful to them.
Because the ideas of others often fall far short of your real potential and purpose!
7) Defuse their toxic romantic habits
Another of the top no bullsh*t ways to deal with a pushy person is to learn how to get past the type of games they play in relationships.
It goes far beyond being controlling or wanting to know where you are all the time.
Pushy people will try to actually make you shift your core values, beliefs, style, geographical location and everything about yourself, in order to satisfy their desires and priorities.
The more you shift into their priorities, the more they will demand, with no end in sight until there’s only a sliver of the real you remaining (and zero self-respect).
8) Remember, ‘no’ isn’t always personal
There’s a reason that so many kind people seem to get rolled over by pushy individuals, and it’s not that these kind folks are stupid.
It’s that they’re too nice and too considerate.
They worry that saying no to a pushy person is the same as personally rejecting that person or devaluing them as a whole.
Saying “no” doesn’t have to be personal.
If you ask me to come in as a co-investor on a new startup that’s going to be epic and tell me that you need my answer by tomorrow, I can say no without it involving my opinion of you.
Saying no to what somebody pressures you into does not mean saying no to them as a whole or no to them being in your life.
9) Use stalling on a particularly pushy person
Many times, pushy people will gaslight you when you try to turn them down.
Making it personal is one of the top ways, as I outlined before. It’s not only that considerate people may feel bad, it’s also that pushy people may take advantage of them feeling bad to get their way.
Another of the top tactics that pushy people use is hard time limits and pressure.
“Join now or you will die in the next five days!” seems like it could literally pop up on some sites or membership offers.
Fear grips you on the 1% chance this site has somehow tapped into a potent vein of black magic and really will kill you for not buying whatever it’s selling.
Sometimes the best way to deal with pushy sales or other offers that are really bothering you is to stall.
This is especially good if you are being pressured in person or to the extent that you feel in physical danger.
For example, if a street seller has approached you and demanded you buy one of his exclusive and authorized authentic Montblanc watches for only $35.
“What, you don’t think it’s real? This is a discontinued line, I told you man. These are 100% real. Look at this certificate!”
He pushes a star with some writing in it in your face that was clearly printed off an early version of Windows 97. This guy looks ready to throw a punch
Now…if you’re smart, you’re not going to say no.
You’re going to say something like:
“They do look good. I’m not questioning the value at all. I’m going to think about this and swing by on my way back from work this afternoon. We good?”
This is one of the best no bullsh*t ways to deal with a pushy person if they’re right in your face:
You tell them sure, later, and make it detailed so it sounds true. Then you get the hell away from there at a sauntering pace without checking behind you.
10) Get crystal clear on your personal boundaries
Without knowing where your boundaries are, how are you supposed to know when somebody crosses them?
You need to have firm personal boundaries that don’t shift with the tides or your emotions or personal thoughts of the day.
You cut off friends who take money and never give it back, or maybe you don’t…
You don’t get back together with a cheater in any circumstances, or maybe you do…
Make your boundaries and decide where they are.
Most of all: stick to them.
Boundaries are just ground decorations if you don’t actually follow them when times get tough.
“If you’re still having trouble saying ‘no’ it’s because you need to do some work on your personal boundaries.
Resolving this will take dedication. In some cases, talking to a counselor might be necessary to guide you on your journey to saying ‘no.’
Do not be afraid to ask for help.”
11) Don’t fight pushiness with logic
When somebody’s trying to push you, it’s tempting to tell them the logical reasons why you can’t go along with what they want.
“Well, I can’t sign up for this course now because I have too many things going on with my course at college and the demands of my new business.”
Buzzer sound. Wrong approach.
The manipulative pusher will always find a way to convince you and gaslight you into doing what they want.
They will find a way to talk through your logic to ensure their agenda gets top spot.
Instead, tell them that feelings are the reason you can’t go along with something.
Feelings are much harder to argue about and sort of a truism, in the sense that if I say I am upset about something, you can’t really effectively tell me I’m not upset.
How do you know?
So in the above example, say something like:
“Well, I don’t want to sign up for this course now because I feel really overwhelmed right now and I’m just not in the frame of mind or emotional space to do that right now.”
As Dr. Matt Townsend advises here, it’s much better to use feelings to turn down pushy people than to try to use logic.
12) Establish a give-and-take dynamic
Pushy people are obsessed about getting their way but that doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.
As I outlined earlier, there are sometimes situations that are win-win or other ways you can shift the frame into your priorities instead of someone else’s.
This is not always possible of course.
Sometimes you either get your way or they do.
In such cases I recommend one of the top no bullsh*t ways to deal with a pushy person is to establish a give and take relationship.
They get their way on this issue, you get your way on the next issue.
It can actually work well, if you both stick to your end of the bargain.
13) Say no to option A, yes to option B
In a similar vein, sometimes it can work well to say no to option A, yes to option B.
Many times we may be approached by people or asked by them to do multiple things.
Perhaps one of those things is very unappealing or detrimental to us, while several others could be potentially great.
So you simply say no to the bad one and yes to the good one.
Push it good
The best of the no bullsh*t ways to deal with a pushy person all revolve around one thing:
Respecting yourself first and holding yourself to a higher standard.
Instead of trying to push back when someone pushes you, push yourself harder to achieve your dreams and write your own story.
Remember this saying that I have used as my lock screen wallpaper for two years now:
Push yourself, because nobody else is going to do it for you.