Back to contents

Five Ways to Deal With Pushy People

Dec/29/2021 / by Sweta Vikram
Image credits: Shutterstock

How do you protect yourself from pushy people!

Can we all agree that dealing with pushy people is unpleasant? It’s like speaking another language to people from another planet and hoping they will make sense of something at the least. Pushy people come in all shapes and sizes and forms. They show up as our friends, family, colleagues, clients, and members of our community.

We all, literally, have that one relentless family member who won’t stop until they have their way. In our lifetime, we have had that one friend who will push boundaries and impose their thoughts. Remember the telemarketer ruining family dinners? The scenario doesn’t change in the professional space. That colleague who always wants to pick where team lunches should take place. The client who won’t listen until all their terms and conditions are met. Don’t they just wear good people down?

I have always been very intuitive and sensitive. In fact, when I was a little girl, my mother would get upset with me because I could see through bullying behavior and stand up to it. She would have preferred that I ignore the bad behavior to keep the peace. So, when I was much younger, I tried to adapt. I would try to explain myself in detail and apologize if I wasn’t able to meet the expectations of pushy people in my life. I hoped the other person would understand my point of view and respect my honesty. But I was told by one person how I should feel rather than them accepting my true feelings. I would start to cry in response. Instead of stating my points as a matter of fact, I would get angry when my words were dismissed.

Controlling people can make you feel bad, question your decision, and become aggressive to keep you under control. It’s either their way or the highway. I have read, “Don’t hang out with those who get under your skin.” But textbook recommendations don’t always translate well in the real world. Unfortunately, when dealing with pushy people, you won’t always have the option to block their number on your phone and be done with them. Can you really tell your co-worker or a peer to back off without being strategic about your messaging? Navigating relationships with over-assertive family and friends can be complicated as they push their wants and needs on others.

Pushy people are intrusive and aggressive in their approach to get what they want. I have a friend whose sister and brother-in-law meet the classic, psychological description of self-absorbed, self-centered narcissists. Every conversation is about what they and their children have achieved. Their vacations, their shopping, their unmatchable life. Growing up, no one told her sibling to not be over-aggressive, judgmental, and calculating. She continues to accuse my friend of being too sensitive. Her sister’s family also has a drinking problem (the parents as well as the grown-up children), so they bring massive mood swings to every conversation. When my friend recently told them that she was busy with work deadlines and couldn’t talk, they started to place unreasonable demands on her and expected her to put everything aside because they needed her, or were bored. Now if that’s not controlling behavior, what is?

Here are the five things I do when stuck in a situation with a pushy person:

Stop assuming you will hurt a pushy person: Be assertive and convey your point-of-view with a controlling person. I once stood up to a highly opinionated, angry person, whom everyone fears, and called them a bully. I asked them to back off without any apologies. Granted, it takes a lot for me to get into situations including any kind of conflicts or heated word exchange. But people need to be shown the mirror. This person’s behavior has changed after our argument. You can’t hurt people who don’t know how to be kind. Don’t worry about pushing back too hard because they probably can take it.

It’s okay to say a 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. The next time your friend insists that you must do everything her way, or a family member tries to emotionally blackmail you, it’s perfectly fine to communicate suggestions that would work better for you. You don’t reject people by saying a NO. It’s called creating boundaries. Saying a NO isn’t the same as being unkind.

Practice deep breathing: When you have been cornered for years, it’s quite easy to get triggered around a pushy person. Deep breathing will lower your stress and increase your calm. It will also help you see through your emotions. Are you being dramatic because of the baggage? Or is your meltdown justified because you know the pushy person’s patterns?

Be strategic with your emotions: Pushy people may also display drastic mood changes or have sudden emotional outbursts. They might try to provoke you because that’s one way of controlling your emotions. It’s understandable if you get riled up around toxicity. I have tried being honest and direct with some pushy people. But in some cases, I don’t find it worth my time to have a conversation. I walk off the angst and stay true to my emotions. But what I’ve learned is that if I don’t react at all, if I were to not give them the response they so eagerly wanted to see from me, they back off. It’s not about being a coward; it’s about evaluating how you want to use your time and energy. Eventually, they start to lose interest in people who won’t react and give their ego any satisfaction. This has worked in several scenarios.

Don’t make excuses with a pushy person: Pushy people are bullies. Sometimes they will even try to use your generosity and compassion to take advantage of you. They have a tendency to exaggerate your flaws and ridicule you in public because bad behavior is funny to them. Yes, it’s harder to alienate a close friend or someone who is a relative. But it’s not impossible. You might believe that the situation is under control, but once they corner you, you could get emotional and defensive. And that’s when it can ruin any chances of effective communication. Don’t beat around the bush and let them lead the relationship. Set limits on how often you engage with them.

People like me, when cornered, often feel they are being unkind when they are pushing back at the forceful person. When controlling people trigger you with their unreasonable behavior… you can feel depleted. They always defend their position, which benefits them more than anybody else. Sometimes I wonder if pushy people even realize all those times when they stifle people with their demands and opinions. A few might even be clueless and might not even realize they are disrespecting boundaries.

Here is the thing: If a relationship isn’t built on mutual trust but on control, do you want it in your life? Even if cutting ties isn’t an option, limiting engagement is. Remember, controlling people want you to believe that they are in your corner and have your best interests at heart. Don’t be fooled!

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are looking for advice from a trained Ayurvedic coach, contact Sweta Vikram here.


Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Get notified about exclusive stories every week!

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Seema will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.