How to be Assertive Not Pushy
Pushy people want what they want, regardless of how you feel.
You have pushy-jerk radar that tells you to resist, protect, hold back, or attack.
You put up with pushy people because you’re afraid not to.
Pushy leaders walk on others to get things done. They won’t take no.
On the other hand, leadership demands assertiveness.
Successful leaders aggressively push agendas forward. They expect excellence and results. If you can’t push yourself and others toward a goal, you can’t lead.
Focus, change, deadlines, collaboration, communication, and integrity, all require assertiveness. But bowling people over doesn’t ignite fires.
Pushy may win the battle but it loses the war.
Transform pushy into assertive:
- Identify shared wins. Pushy becomes encouragement when you help others win.
- Listen first. Talking first says you think you’re first.
- Open up rather than close down. You don’t mean to be pushy but when you close down you are.
Impact of assertive versus pushy:
- Rapport versus friction.
- Engagement versus resistance.
- Satisfaction versus resentment.
- Connection versus disconnection.
Push people and they push back unless they’re pushovers. You may feel great when you get your own way. But…
A team of pushovers isn’t going very far.
Assertive includes awareness, compassion, along with drive. But, pushy focuses on objectives and treats people like objects.
Stop pushing – Ignite fires.
Give people a chance to rise up by not pushing.
- Identify and push for shared wins.
- Clarify the path forward.
- Establish deadlines.
- Step back. (The hardest part)
- Remain interested.
- Expect excellence.
- Stay available.
- Honor progress.
- Reward achievement.
- Build on successes.
The ground between releasing people and achieving excellence is rocky. People fall short.
If you can’t tolerate falling down, then pushy is your only option.
The key to successful assertiveness is aligning personal and organizational interests.
How do you deal with pushy people?
How can leaders be assertive without being pushy?
Dan, do you have specific examples of have you’ve successfully combined stepping back while staying interested? Weekly status reports always feel a bit micro-manage-esque to me but I don’t have much better tactics in mind.
Thanks James. Great question. I hear you on the weekly status meetings. Most don’t enjoy them. Although, I never felt like they were micromanaging. Maybe it depends on how much information is required?
I like to ask, “what makes you feel like I’m interested?” Then negotiate the level of information I need and the amount of “interest” they like.
From time to time, I evaluate my interactions with by asking, “What am I doing that strengthens our relationship?” Or, “What’s working/not working?”
Great blog. I am very busy person did you ever think of having attached MP4 file so people could listen to your blog on the way to work? That would be amazing. Keep up the great work thanks
Philip Golding Founder / CEO Scm Marketing Solutions O: 920.788.6600 #6 F: 920.838.1453 Phil@scmmarkets.com http://www.ScmMarkets.com
The information contained in this electronic message (e-mail) and any attachment(s) to it is/are intended for the exclusive use of the intended addressee(s) and may contain information that is confidential and/or privileged. If you are not the intended recipient(s) and have received this communication in error, do not distribute it. Instead, please call (920) 788-6600 and destroy all copies of this message and any attachments. Thank you
Thanks for the suggestion Phil. I consider the idea of attaching video or audio files. Stay tuned.
Well, it has taken me decades to figure this out.
I admittedly, ashamedly, honestly still fall WAY short of doing this myself. I am however committed to working for progress everyday with every chance I get. One day maybe I will be able to not only think I know it but be able to practice it and enjoy its benefits more often!!!!!!!!!!!
Heard it yesterday out better than I have ever heard it.
“Be a magnet to those who believe like you do and as repulsive to those who don’t as you possibly can”.
Why? Two reasons. One, Time is a shared valued commodity. No reason to spend time a-wasting it! Yours or others!
Spending said time trying to convince others who do not believe what you believe is a waste of said time.
They will never come around.THAT IS COOL! They do not have to.
Each of God’s kids got the right to their own opinion. Let others have their opinion if they do not agree with yours. Hey, their opinion is cool with them so who am I to rain on their parade! Plus it is possible they might just be right! And for now they are cool with their opinion, so leave them be.
Plus, in this world of paradoxes, not singledoxes, what is right for one could be wrong for another. All roads lead to Momma’s Kitchen. Anyone else remember that place at Myrtle Beach?
Turns out riding down to Myrtle Beach no matter how you drove there, all roads DID lead to Momma’s Kitchen! Imagine that!
Just hang with those who believe what you believe and stop trying to swim up the stream!
Don’t change or alter or back down from what you believe, just play in the sandbox with others who play the way you do. Stop throwing sand in the face of others who do not like the way you play the game.
Do this or spend your valuable time proving to yourself at the end of the day this is golden!
I would HOPE my experience can benefit others. One thing I cannot do and will not spend AS MUCH time as I used to trying to convince anyone(I am still a work in progress) what anyone else chooses to do and believe is completely up to them.
SP back to generating Oxytocin with those who believe what I believe!
Thanks Scott. I love the idea of hanging with people who believe like I do. Seems like sometimes they need some convincing. 😉
Very good coaching lines. Fortunately, Assertiveness and pushy, are areas we can re-shape and become better leaders. Examples like so, help us tweak our style from who we currently are to how we want to be. Your topics provide clean fresh air to those aspiring to become better leaders.
Thanks Max. Happy Holidays.
>> How can leaders be assertive without being pushy? <<
One of my bosses used to say "I'd rather you asked for help/resources, than surprise me by falling off plan/schedule.." It was a non-threatening reminder… even a support tool! And a reminder to stay on plan.
Worked well for us…
Thanks Ken. Great add…simple and actionable.
Pushy leaders without compassion sap enthusiasm from thier employees. They often are percieved as rude, cocky, arrogant, and leading as though they have a ‘chip on thier shoulder’. If your a self motivated, self-confident individual focused on goals and results, REMEMBER, not everyone possesses your energy or zeal for life. Tone it down a bit, especially around those who don’t know you that well. Put good active listenung skills to work, it helps you to better understand and connect with your people while giving them a real sence of ownership in decision making. I like how todays blog piggy-backs off yesterdays blog. (Leadership),, “it’s ALL about COMPASSION Baby”!!! Keep on keepin on Dano…
Thanks Steve. That first line is a gut punch. It’s so true. That’s a huge motivator to learn to be assertive but not pushy.
Your encouragement is appreciated.
Pushy people. I try to avoid them. Call me chicken (and I’d have to accept that). But it is hard to live with the kind of diplomacy I require of myself and still enjoy pushy people.
I appreciate your transparency .. the “avoid/why bother” may not be constructive, but I think its a common strategy…
Thanks Dauna. Me too. I think a really great leader would learn how to channel a pushy persons energy. But, all things being equal, I’m avoiding them.
I manage a remote team in India, and I have found it far easier to gain wins with them than with the people I work with locally. My email and chat personality is a lot nicer than my presence in meatspace, I guess. It’s easy to “listen” when it means carefully reading an email or engaging in a quick q and a on chat.
I report directly to the Senior VP of operations, but I have no title, so a lot of people near me choose to pull rank when I am trying to make a change. If I ask my boss for help, it has a really negative effect, so I find I have to just keep pushing on my own, which leads to pushy behavior. I start to see people as obstacles rather than co-workers.
Thanks for the interesting perspective on assertiveness!
Thanks dunkablog. You have my respect and appreciation for your transparency.
“I start to see people as obstacles rather than co-workers” — KaChing. Been there and done that.
Wow! that one stung.
I like your list of 10 ways to be assertive, not pushy. I wonder about the difference in how women and men act on those behaviors, or perhaps the difference in how they are perceived when they do. Sometimes leadership means taking a clear stand. Sometimes it seems to me the same behaviors that are seen as “assertive” by when used by male leaders are seen as “pushy” when coming from a female leader.
Jesse I must agree with you. A guy who is assertive is perceived as a ‘Go-getter’. On the other hand, a woman who is asserive is perceived as, well, ‘Hmm’, (maybe I should be politically correctand say), “not a good leader”!
Yes, Jesse. I have the experience of having been called “aggressive” and “unprofessional” to my boss when I (and my fellow female colleagues) were clear in stating expectations.
This is a big issue that I am definitely dealing with.
I demand excellence from my team and I suppose that it can come across as being pushy or rude. But I just want to win. That’s all.
It seems that it is in an employees nature to just do the least amount expected. And this type of attitude really irritates me.
I guess that I need to start trying to figure out the different ways to be assertive versus being pushy.
I often find it interesting to consider how we as managers, business leaders and entrepreneurs define & develop our personality, nature and make-up towards success.
Assertiveness is certainly one of the most important attributes a Leader must have.
Thanks for your discussion.
Thanks for writing about this Dan. I appreciate the balance you brought to the subject.
Dan, this is right on!
The Law of Attraction (that which is like unto itself is drawn) will have people wanting to push back before they even know they are doing it. An authentic spirit of shared goals and cooperation is the only way. And if you’ve been pushy for a while, people will need time to trust you before change happens.
This really was a excellence blog. I was actually holding two division in our organization and for me it is so really tight schedule. In our daily routine, i used to let them work on thier project but the think is sometimes it is not effective, that is why most of the time i am “pushy” towards all my staff for both division.Sometime i am bit of rude because of the output is not good. If im not going to supervise in maximum level the deadline will not be reached.
For me, i try to play with my style if i know my employee is output oriented & well organized my “pushy” behavior is not available on other hand, i will be “pushy” if my employee is really not doing the right job.
But since i read this blog, i will add more transformation in division to be more successful team.
My mom always said i tried too hard, but in reality i was just pushy, pushing anything i could toward a relationship or co-worker to get what i want. i’m learning this more and more and find that people don’t respond well to this method as much as they used to. i’m not even aware i’m doing it most of the time. when i stand back and look, i realze it and can see myself from the outside looking in. i want to fit in like i used to, i want help at work without hounding someone. i need to break this routine and find a new one where people want to help or be around me. Any suggestions?
Being pushy will only worsen a team leader or a team member performance take the time to have a conversation to understand why their performance is lacking
Pingback: The Secret to Magnificent Success | Leadership Freak
Pingback: The secret of magnificent success - Salesground