Pushy People: How To Avoid Getting Pushed Into A Corner

Pushy People seem to push you into a corner to get what they want. They are relentless and have no regard for your feelings until they get exactly what they want. Pushy People “appear” to be oblivious to the responses that do not fit their own agenda or desire. Regardless of what you say or try to defend or explain, they always have a “comeback” response to your answers or requests. Pushy People seem to “logically” defend their position, but it always seems to benefit them more than you.

I call them “CORNER PEOPLE” because they seem to back people into a corner through their persistence, changing their approach, using guilt or by verbal bullying. Sometimes they just wear “good people” down. They are not bad people usually. They have learned or believe that the only way to get what they want is to “corner” someone and pressure them to do what they want. Sometimes they will adopt another tactic and become emotionally upset, thereby making you feel guilty and responsible for their upset feelings. However, no one is ever “responsible” for how someone else feels. How we feel is our own response.

Pushy people come in all sizes and shapes. They can be our parent, friend, sibling, co-worker or boss. They are more challenging to control when they are a family member or someone who is in a position of power. However, if you are strong and take the steps outlined below, you can almost always get out of the corner.

When the Pushy Person is in a position of power

For example, let’s take a situation at work. Let’s say your boss has a habit of asking for things from you at the last minute or at the end of your workday. You can agree to do it, but can also ask your boss to work together to find a way to organize his or her priorities that will result in less “last minute” requests. Perhaps you can suggest that it will allow you more time to invest in the quality of your assignment. This way you will appear cooperative, but are also trying to shape the manner in which you are given assignments.

Pushy Person as a Parent

As parents age, and their adult children begin building their own lives, both the parent and the adult child face new challenges. It is not uncommon for the parent to become more of a Pushy Person than when the child was much younger. The parent values the relationship of their adult child more and more. This is because the parent often feels less needed and fears losing the child as the child’s own friends and family become more important.

The parent may use guilt with the adult child, saying “You are too busy doing ‘important things’ in the world to make time for us”. This puts the adult child on the defense. They must defend their position for the Pushy Person to back off. It usually results in the Pushy Person getting what they want because the cornered person felt they had to prove the statement to be untrue and make more time for the parent.

Standing up for yourself is not being Pushy

Before we talk about HOW to get yourself out of the corner, first understand this very important point: Good people who are cornered often feel they are being aggressive or unkind when they are pushing back at the Pushy Person. Here is the truth: Just because it feels more aggressive does not mean it is wrong. Being more assertive does not make you a bad person. You are just being more assertive than you would normally need to be with someone who is not a Pushy Person. That’s why it’s so uncomfortable.

With normal people, we don’t need to be assertive in a stronger way than usual. How many times would it take someone to ask you to try to be more on time with them before you begin to make the effort? Now, this example is more challenging for some than others. But wouldn’t you still hear the person and try to at least be less late? A Pushy Person would not make that effort.

4 steps to get out of the corner

  1. Be clear about what will not work for you about their request.
  2. Make a suggestion that will work better for you and possibly the Pushy Person.
  3. Give them options. Do not let them choose their own options that don’t work for you. Instead, offer them options A or B.
  4. If the Pushy Person is relentless you will need to be more assertive, which is uncomfortable but not wrong or unkind. Remember, this is a very uncomfortable feeling because you are not a Pushy Person. You are not doing anything wrong. It is just that it is uncomfortable. It’s necessary because it’s the only way out of the corner.

What to do if nothing changes

  • In general: Be a wall to resist their pushing. Be a broken record. Continue to state your desired options. Present this as a matter of fact, not in anger. If necessary, just politely end the conversation.
  • In a romantic relationship: This is challenging because you have feelings for your partner and you may be invested in this relationship. But it doesn’t change what is healthy and what is unhealthy. You need to speak up to your partner without blaming. Focus on how you feel when you feel pushed into a corner, and that you don’t believe he is aware of this happening. Tell him what will work better for you. If this pushy behavior continues you may need to reconsider your options, such as seeking professional counseling together. Remember, these skills are not taught in school.
  • With a boss: You may want to consider seeking consultation with HR or the next level up in management. But only take this step after you have documented all your attempts to discuss this first with your boss.
  • With a family member: Try writing them a letter. Begin with something positive about the relationship and what it means to you as best as you can do without being insincere. Then tell them that you would like to improve the relationship and what would make it better for you. Try to include something they also have voiced wanting from you as well. Sometimes a pushy person can only really hear someone when they are not physically present and are not prepared to engage in a fight. You may want to suggest family counseling with a professional. This would mean that you value the relationship and don’t want to let go of it.

I know this is so uncomfortable to do. However, your only option is to be pushed into a corner, doing what you don’t want to do. Pushy people are intrusive and aggressive in their approach to get what they want. Normal people don’t do this. Normal people are kind and considerate of others. But you can’t act the same way when you are dealing with someone who is not “normal” and is aggressive. Nice people can be assertive without being “pushy”. They are not the same thing.

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