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How to not be a pushover at work

How to not be a pushover at work

Some people are naturally more assertive than others. And those less assertive face the risk of finding themselves in a position of a pushover. Do you feel like you are an easily defeated person? Or maybe you say “yes” to anything at your work? This could be a sign that something needs to be changed.

What is a pushover at work?

So what does the word pushover entails? A pushover is a person who can be taken advantage of at work. Someone who takes more responsibilities than they have to and says “yes” to every request, even if it is out of their area of duties. Pushovers may be afraid to upset their boss or colleagues. So they take on too much work, get swept away with more than they can handle, and risk burning out.

Why it’s not an easy task to recognize being a pushover

It might be challenging to recognize yourself as a pushover at work because it is not easy to come to terms with. This is not exactly a pleasant word. No one wants to think that they are being taken advantage of. Also, it might be difficult to distinguish between a pushover and a hard worker. Maybe you want to succeed and be a valuable part of the team. But it is essential to recognize specific signs and set healthy boundaries.

Obvious Signs You’re A Pushover At Work

  • Coming in earlier than expected or staying later without extra pay. Overworking sometimes is normal at almost any job. Accidents happen, and there might be days when you need to put extra effort in without reimbursement. But if it becomes a habit, it is not a good sign.
  • Accepting less-than-ideal work conditions. Settling for less than you should expect from your job is not healthy. You put your energy, skills, and experience into something and must be treated accordingly. If you are not going to value your input, how do you expect others to do it?
  • Taking on more projects than you can handle and not saying no to assignments. It is not easy to say “no,” but sometimes, it is inevitable. There is only so much you can do in a workday. If you continue taking too many things when overloaded, you might be a pushover.
  • Not getting credit for your contributions or having them taken away from you. Every work should be awarded. If you feel like people take your contribution from you, it signifies an unhealthy work environment.
  • Feeling anxious about disagreeing with colleagues or superiors. Pushover is easily persuaded and often shows unquestioning obedience. Pushover might think he’ll upset or let down his team with a simple “no.” An opponent might persuade a pushover by appealing to feelings of guilt and responsibility.
  • Allowing yourself to be taken advantage of, even when it’s not in your best interest. While a pushover might think that one day people will see their input and give appropriate credit for that, that is rarely the case. If you let others take advantage of you at the workplace, it becomes harder to stand your ground and resist the pressure.

Why Being A Pushover Is Problematic

Being a pushover is harmful to you most of all. If you push yourself too hard and do not learn from your mistakes, you can end up burnt out and resentful of your job. It can easily affect your mental and physical state, as well as endanger your position at the company. Not to mention that taking too much responsibility results in lower quality of work.

Impact on career advancement

A pushover might experience a loss of respect from colleagues and superiors. If you are an easily persuaded person that cannot resist pressure, your colleagues are less likely to respect your opinion. Others might think that you are easily played and will do any task. Others will only do the same if you respect your time and boundaries.

This might result in a pushover being unable to get a higher position or better salary because your opponent might be more persistent, confident, and opinionated. For them, it is easy to fight for their interests.

Negative influence in the work environment

Mental and physical health consequences result in poor performance. Pushovers might get tired of overworking themselves and feel like their careers head nowhere. You do one task after another, yet others do not recognize your contribution. You feel like you put more effort in, but it goes unnoticed.

It creates a hostile environment for you and others. Those who take advantage of pushovers need more accountability and can easily start slacking on their duties.

How To Stop Being A Easily Defeated Person

There is no shame in admitting that you are an easily defeated person. It might be hard for you to push your interests, rights, and priorities. If you’ve found yourself in a position of a pushover, it is not a defeat. It is just a signal that you need to make changes and firmly prioritize yourself and personal boundaries. Here is how you can stop being a pushover person and get over unquestioning obedience.

Set boundaries in the workplace

In the office world, there are physical and mental boundaries a person needs to set. First, to be less pushover, set your working hours straight and stick to them. Do not attend “after-hours” working events. Do not overwork for no extra payment when it is not necessary. Only take tasks for workdays, even if they sound easy to do.

Learn to say “no”. Yes, it can be tough to mark your ground. But as with any skill, it comes with practice. The more you do it, the easier it will become. Offer an alternative solution without taking all responsibility for yourself.

Also, create signals that would identify others that you are busy. Some examples are closing cabinet doors or wearing headphones.

Don’t be afraid to take a stand for yourself as a tough negotiator

Pushover cannot stand its ground. So not to be one, you need to become a better negotiator. If you are in a complex situation, be logical, calm, and argumentative. Is it an easy task? You might help with it after you’re done with all your direct duties.

Is a colleague unable to do it themselves? Politely recommend they ask a supervisor for help. Standing for your priorities takes work, but earning respect and being valued for your effort is essential.

Make your voice heard and don’t be afraid to communicate with colleagues and superiors

Communication is the key to resolving many issues. If you feel like a pushover, consider talking about it with colleagues or superiors. Make sure you can let others know why you cannot take this another short and easy project. Be precise about your schedule, workload, and examples of your performance.

Advocate for yourself, even if it makes you uncomfortable

Set your own priorities in terms of career and performance. Make sure you are putting yourself first to not become a pushover. Do not push yourself into something you do not like or do not have time for.

Believe in your own worth and don’t let others define it for you

Sometimes one can become a pushover because they do not believe in their worth. Those do not value their expertise and skills. This might signify low self-esteem, which can harm their career and performance.

Remember that you are a qualified professional whose word and opinion matter. Others do not define you.


Recognizing the signs of being a pushover is the first step to taking control of your career and standing up for yourself.

Date: 23 January 2023
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