We all know that one person in the office; the “pushover.” The pushover may be Joe in the corner cubicle with a stack of papers in front of him so high that he can’t see over them, because he agreed to stay late and pick up the slack. Or maybe the pushover is your boss, who in spite of pushover tendencies has made it this far in his or her career, only to be constantly pushed around by colleagues. Without proper guidance, a pushover can go an entire career without ever developing a backbone. The example above suggests that plenty of pushovers still make it far in their careers. Being a pushover doesn’t mean that you have forgotten how to say no. It just means that you’re more inclined to say yes.
From one pushover to another, here’s a guide to being nice (but not too nice):
Set reasonable goals
Is your goal to leave the office by 5:00 PM each day to get home for dinner? Or is it to not reply to emails on the weekends? Whatever it may be, take baby steps – and try to stick to your guns.
Hold yourself accountable to your goals
Realistically speaking, if you don’t hold yourself accountable, it will be much easier to find excuses to disregard your personal goals. Before you know it, you will be helping out your colleagues at the expense of your personal time and what you want.
Write down daily expectations
In college, I always preferred to hand write notes in class rather than type them out. There’s something about the deliberate act of putting pen to paper that makes it stick in my mind. The same goes for work-related items. It will be much easier to follow steps one and two if you take the time to sort through them line by line and write them down.
Practice saying no
This can take place outside the office. The important thing is that you a.) make a conscious choice to utter the word “no” to a request, b.) understand that you are allowed to say “no”, and c.) process the reaction of the person you are saying no to. Most likely, the person on the receiving end won’t spontaneously combust or spit in your face. He or she may be annoyed (but will survive.)
Pay attention to your triggers
Everyone has a trigger. Mine is when people make assumptions about my life or offer advice without me asking for it. Yours might be when people are unnecessarily confrontational in the workplace.The next time someone asks you to do something, pay attention to what in the conversation triggers you to react the way you do. Once you have a grasp on that, you can work on identifying it and reworking the way you address the situation.
You can still be nice but it’s important to recognize when you have stepped over the nice boundary and into pushover territory.
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