Don’t Push, Folks!

I don’t like pushy people.Pushy people

And, I don’t think it’s just me that feels that way.

Last week someone struck me as “pushy” and it set off a chain reaction. I’m not a spineless wimp…people who know me well will attest that I have a “mind of my own.” I’ve scrimmaged in the corporate shark tank, occasionally swimming away the spoils (click to Tweet). But, it is not in my nature to continually vie for my way. When I see other people doing it, I am often embarrassed for them. I certainly empathize with the poor soul who must “deal” with them. It’s just one reason I love my creative community. Many are deep thinking, deep feeling people. They tend to be self-aware and not pushy…not very often.

Last week I felt pushed. I was also in the mood to explore it a bit further, so I pitched a public question. “Complete the sentence – Pushy people are…..” It set off a firestorm.

  • Obnoxious
  • Drive me nuts
  • Need to be pulled
  • Cannot control their own lives
  • Make great shopping card retrievers
  • Are scared

Wait! Scared? That remark stoked my philosophical fire.

After a deep dive into the subject of strident “me-ism” I came to the following conclusion. This is my understanding of “pushy” – yours may vary:

“Pushy is, as pushy does.” Maybe it has more to do with the exchange of energy. For whatever reason (insecurity, fear) the pushy person has more energy around their action or response than the receiver. We then “perceive” this as pushy. If we don’t have enough energy to engage in the conversation, to respectfully discuss, to disarm, we then feel pushed. It’s all imagined. We are responsible to uphold our own boundaries. If I’m too tired or lazy (let’s face it, when the energy is low, that’s what it is) to engage in a conversation because it requires energy I’m unwilling to give, labeling them as “pushy” is a cop out. We can all be pushy if it’s important enough to us.

Some people have been rewarded for their nervy behaviour. Many might agree, this encourages them to push harder, push more often. As a coach, I’ve often observed clients overuse a strategy that has worked for them in the past. If it quits working, they may continue to employ it with an added, over-assertive push. Bad news.

Others have been shoved by the insistent pusher and swear off assertiveness. They recoil at the thought of being perceived as brash or  pushy and may not pursue their desires. They hold back, eventually loosing their courage. They lose their voice; grow resentful.

The perfect balance lies somewhere in between.

Aggressive pursuit is undoubtedly fueled by emotion, perceived value and is topic specific. Sometimes you need to push. Sometimes you need to give. Sometimes you simply need to understand (click to Tweet).

Difficult People - By Noel Sandino
Difficult People – By Noel Sandino

What about you?

Do you overuse, or underuse this behaviour? Are you getting everything you want while those around you are accommodating you? Are you finding people avoid you? Are you resentful of those who get what they want? Feel they’ll drain you dry? Have you lost your voice?

I think it’s worth at least a brief examination. Achieving your goals is important, but at the end of the day, our lives are built on a series of relationships (click to Tweet). A good balance of both is essential for the fulfillment and connectedness we all crave. And, when we see someone going off the rails, the best strategy may be to proceed without judgment, engage them in dialogue when our energy is high, and seek a mutually acceptable (or at least understood) answer.

Please, don’t push folks, there’s enough for everyone!


Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves her clients in the direction of their Writer, Artist, Coachdreams by helping them improve productivity and cultivate good behaviours while eliminating poor

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7 Replies to “Don’t Push, Folks!”

    1. Thank you, Millie. Comments from others prompted me to explore this topic. I’m always grateful when I can see a previously negative topic in a more positive light.

  1. Great reading. I work with a few pushy people who often forget the rest of us are also living our own lives. It’s too bad that the corporate world tends to reward this negative behavior as being assertive.

    1. Yep, Ken. I remember those “incentives.” 🙂 Perhaps reframing the way we perceive pushy people will help those on the receiving end feel less stress and have more level heads to handle such situations. It sounds like you have a great grasp on what’s really going on. It’s a start, anyhow.

  2. I find that if you peel back enough layers almost all characteristics and behaviors that we see as negative are actually fear based. Sometimes you have to peel back a number of layers to get to the fear but it’s there. Try it with yourself and with others in a number of different situations and you may be surprised at how often this turns out to be the case! For instance for years I worked with someone who was extremely negative and suspicious. It was so frustrating and opposite of my nature. So, I prayed and asked what I need to learn from this person and I asked what kind of person would be that way? I came up with either 1, someone who has been betrayed deeply or often, or 2, someone who betrays or 3, both. So, from that point I tried to see them as “wounded” (to keep from going off on their catty nonsense). It took a few years until I found out but it turned out that this person had been betrayed by a very important and influential person in their life -their father. Now this person also betrays others. They had even been fired from jobs because of this behavior. Her fear of being betrayed, lied to, put down, etc. led to her “getting them before they got her”. In reality no one was trying to get her so she was/is miserable in her personal and professional life. I hope she can change so that at least her retirement years can be happier for her. I realize this is just one example but I’ve applied this to countless, including myself and fear is a huge motivator – negatively and positively. Thanks for a great article and starting an important conversation!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Shauna. Yes, fear often drives terrible behaviour and doesn’t really protect us from anything. Your call for understanding and tolerance is a wise path. Thank you so much for sharing.

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