How to stop being overbearing

9 Habits You Don't Realize Can Make You Seem Overbearing


by Carolyn Steber

Hannah Burton/Bustle

It can be tough to tell the difference between true assertiveness and habits that come off as too pushy, since they can both deal with getting what you want, telling people what you think, and having things go your way. But while assertiveness is a great skill to develop — and you should use it as often as necessary — pushiness can actually end up holding you back.

"When people are being assertive [...] they are expressing their needs in direct, open, honest ways while still being respectful of the other person's needs and preferences," psychotherapist Simone Sobel, LCSW, tells Bustle. "When people are being pushy [...] only their needs count, while others' needs are pushed aside, minimized, or ignored. "

These habits tend to negatively impact how people see you, whether or not they'll want to work with you, or how healthy your relationships will end up being, which is why it's important to be aware of them.

"It can certainly have an impact in that others may avoid you or pull away from you," therapist Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT, tells Bustle. "[But] we can rein in these habits by practicing mindfulness and setting boundaries," as well as making a few small adjustments during everyday interactions. Here are some habits that can come off as pushy, according to experts, as well as how to balance them out.


Pressuring People Into Making Commitments

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Whether you're needling someone at work, or texting a friend a million times until they agree to hang out, pressuring people into making commitments can easily seem overbearing.

"You may be in a time crunch and need to know if they're committing or not, but they may also need time to consider if they can make such a commitment," Williamson says.

In this situation, it's better to find fair middle ground. As Williamson says, "Make sure you ask them with enough time for them to consider their answer and give them a date you'll check in [...] if you haven't heard from them." At that point, go ahead and follow up.


Steering Convos Back To Yourself

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While it might be tempting to direct conversations back to what you'd like to say, keep in mind that everyone should have a chance to share their thoughts first.

"People want to be able to talk about themselves without the attention being taken away from their experience," therapist Katie Leikam, LCSW, LISW-CP, tells Bustle, which is why it can help to listen more and react less.

Once you put this habit into practice, it'll be easier to tell when the conversation has shifted back to you, at which point you can share what's on your mind.


Being Too Quick To Respond

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It's natural to get excited about certain topics and respond right away. But if you find that you're constantly cutting people off as they talk, consider taking a breath before responding.

"It will help you not only appear more thoughtful and considerate, but help you choose your words with more care (which can also be an issue with those who are described as overbearing)," counselor Jami Kirkbride, LPC tells Bustle.


Barging In On Someone's Alone Time

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Whether it's a friend, roommate, partner, or even a coworker, encroaching on someone's alone time can make it seem like you don't respect them.

Take your relationship, for example. "It’s understandable that couples need to spend quality time together to forge their relationship, but this can’t supersede the need to develop the self," Samantha Morrison, a health and wellness expert at Glacier Wellness, tells Bustle.

Your partner may even start to feel resentful if you continue to take away their precious alone time, so try to establish boundaries you can both respect. And stick to them.


Giving Unsolicited Advice

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Another way to come off as overbearing — even when that's not your goal — is by offering unsolicited advice. But this is especially true if you give advice, and then don't "pay close attention to the responses you get to see if the other person was receptive or not," executive coach and leadership expert Leslie Austin, PhD, tells Bustle.

Doing so can make it look like you were just telling them what to do, instead of actually caring or listening. So again, the goal should be to truly hear them out before sharing your opinion.

"Pay attention. Slow down. Breathe. Think before you speak," Dr. Austin says. "Give some space to yourself and others in your conversations." You'll notice a big difference in how they respond to you.


Not Taking "No" For An Answer

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If someone tells you they can't do something, it's important to respect it — instead of calling again, pushing back, or pestering them.

"If you are constantly trying to change people's minds, or negotiating, this will make you seem pushy," clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky, tells Bustle. "'No' is someone setting a boundary or letting you know their limits, so negotiate at your own risk — because it may come across off-putting."


Making All The Decisions

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Whether at work or in your relationship, there are so many opportunities to take charge and make decisions. And you should do so whenever it feels right. But don't forget that other people may want to make the decisions, too.

"If you are someone that always volunteers to lead, you may want to take a step back," Dr. Odessky says. "While you may think that you are lessening everyone's burden by volunteering, you may actually be depriving them of an opportunity to shine."

That's not to say you should sit back or be quiet; far from it. But since it's easy to go overboard when calling the shots, keep in mind that it should be more of a 50/50 thing.


Planning Everything Down To The Minute

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Similarly, many "pushy" people go overboard when it comes to making plans, which they often expect everyone to agree to.

For example, "when people come to town to visit, do you already have an itinerary of where to go and what to do? This can be helpful with a passive group but over time will rub people the wrong way," therapist Lindsey Huttner, LCSW, tells Bustle.

While you may love to plan, it never hurts to ease up a little. "Ask for others to come up with a suggestion for where to go," Huttner says. "Leave room for spontaneity and down time. Compromise with others and resist the need to take over control."


Never Asking Questions

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There are so many moments in life when asking a question can show that you care, that you're connected, and that you want to help out. So if you find that you never take the time to ask others what they think, it may be time to start.

"When we ask someone a question, we are signaling to them we care about them and what they have say," Tess Brigham, a licensed psychotherapist and certified coach, tells Bustle. "An overbearing person tends to only see their point of view. When you ask questions and really listen to the other person's response, you're showing that person respect and that you value their perspective."

It's so easy to pick up a few "pushy" or overbearing habits, but often just as easy to swap them out for something that'll lead to healthier relationships, and better interactions.

How to Stop Being Overbearing to a Husband

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Being overbearing in a marriage is a serious problem that must be addressed because it may cause resentment and failure of the marriage. Although the obvious fact that you must stop being overbearing may sound simple, following through can be complicated because you have developed a pattern of interacting with your husband in an overbearing way. Often you may not even know you are being overbearing, but you're so accustomed to being this way that you react by impulse because it has become part of your routine. Love, hard work and effort can help you break the destructive cycle.

Approach your husband in a sincere and non-confrontational manner. Ask him to give you a list of things you do that are overbearing. Your husband will know better than anyone because he is the recipient of your overbearing attitude. Let him express himself and don't get defensive. After all, if you are looking to stop being overbearing it is because you accept that you have a problem with this type of behavior.

Use the list as a guideline to remember the things you need to address in order to change your overbearing tendencies.

Start by stopping your controlling impulses. Controlling your husband will only make him feel suffocated and wanting to escape. Let your husband do things he is interested in without questioning him or nagging him about it.

Stop spying on your husband and let him be an individual. Going through your husband's personal belongings such as cell phone, wallet, clothing and emails is unacceptable in a marriage. This lack of trust indicates that there is a problem with you. This may indicate that you have low self-esteem, insecurities, have experienced infidelity in previous relationships, loneliness or parental abandonment. These things tend to cause an overbearing personality.

Analyze yourself honestly. Think of the things or situations that trigger your overbearing attitude and determine if there really is a reason for acting that way. Consider whether your being overbearing is pushing your husband away, and ultimately if it's hurting your relationship. For instance, it's possible that you become overbearing when you feel like your husband doesn't want to be around, but in reality your overbearing attitude is what's pushing your husband away.

Ask for reassurance when feeling insecure or when you feel like being overbearing. For instance, tell your husband when you are feeling insecure about something and ask him to reassure you that what you are feeling is not accurate. Make sure that you do this without being pushy, controlling, manipulative, bullying or nagging.

Show your husband how much you love him and lift him up with positive and edifying comments and actions. Keep in mind that actions speak louder than words. Work hard on changing, think before you act or talk, and use the love you have for your husband as the force that helps you accomplish your transformation.

5 effective tips on how to communicate with difficult people

Contents of the article

Almost anyone can find a common language with a nice person, when common topics are immediately found, the conversation becomes interesting and exciting. But how often do we come across such people?! Sometimes you have to establish communication with difficult people at work, in everyday life, and not everyone can cope with this. This skill can be useful for you to complete tasks and solve various problems. Let's take a look at 5 working methods that will help you cope with even the most difficult personalities.

Be calm

Being calm will help you hide your emotions and prevent another person from influencing you. Most conflicters deliberately behave in such a way as to piss off a person and begin to sort things out with him. Here it is important not to succumb to tricks, take a couple of breaths, relieve internal tension and calmly continue the dialogue. When a difficult person feels that you are confident and not going to defend yourself, then he will lose the desire to behave in this way.

Empathize with the interlocutor

Often difficult people behave defiantly because they are overwhelmed with pain that eats from the inside. In such a situation, a person needs sympathy, not abuse and punishment. Therefore, try to put yourself in the place of your interlocutor, feel what the person feels, and pay attention to him.

Interact Consciously

Conscious communication is when you can disengage negative emotions by remaining calm, reasonable, and direct throughout the conversation. This is the ability to conduct a constructive conversation, not paying attention to sarcasm or irony. For example, to interrupt the endless stream of thoughts, ask directly "what do you end up offering?". Or, to discourage the interlocutor and dispel anger, answer that perhaps the interlocutor is right. Do not use categorical words like “always”, “never”, “impossible” in communication. You will find even more useful recommendations in the course “Building Relationships the Right Way”. After training, you will be able to build good relationships not only with colleagues at work, but also with your team, family and children.

Stop the conversation if it has gone too far

If you behaved confidently and consciously, sympathized with the person, but the conversation is still accompanied by negativity. So it's time to stop it. This can be done using the following phrases:

  • “Are you sure that your proposal is the only correct one?”
  • "Do you think I don't understand what you are trying to do now?"
  • “After listening to all your reproaches and complaints, I understand that you talked too much about this. What way out of this situation do you propose?

Set boundaries

Another way to sober up a person and put him in his place is to point out your boundaries, which should not be violated. To do this, speak to the interlocutor confidently, in a strong and calm voice, looking directly into his eyes. Tell the person "I see you've had a difficult day, let's end this conversation." Such behavior, if not reassuring, will definitely sober a person and make him think.

How to learn to influence people

Varvara Grankova

To be effective in today's corporate world, you need to be able to motivate the people around you. But how do you get colleagues to support your initiatives and accept your ideas? And that people turn to you for advice and follow your instructions?

What the experts say

Influence is a value, says Dori Clark, author of Entrepreneurial You. “Thanks to influence, you do more and can promote projects that are important to you and for which you are responsible, which means that you are more likely to be noticed, you will receive a salary increase or you will get a new position,” says the expert.

However, gaining influence in today's world is a difficult task, says Nick Morgan, author of Power Cues. Due to information overload and the pace of life, people's concentration has deteriorated. Nevertheless, right now, due to strong competition, it is more important than ever to be able to influence others. Here are some tips to help you form your own approach to this issue.

Build connections

Work is not a school competition for the most popular student, but, as Clark points out, one of the main reasons people do things for you, such as support an idea or approve a budget, is that they like you. You don't have to be "the most amazing" or "amaze everyone with your charisma". You just need to establish good contact with colleagues. It doesn't translate directly into influence, of course, but it definitely increases the chances that other people will listen to you. So, work on strengthening your personal connections with your colleagues, let them get to know you better, and they won't attribute negative intentions or motives to you.

Listen before trying to persuade. The best way to convince colleagues to support you and your plans is to make them feel they are being listened to. “The reason people dislike their work is that people feel they are not respected, that they are not being listened to,” says Clarke.


Marcy Schinder is director of marketing at Work Market, a New York-based firm that helps companies manage freelancers and consultants. Even before joining the Work Market, Marcy decided to be an influential member of the team. She organized informal meetings with several future colleagues, and this allowed her to establish contact with them. “I wanted to know what their goals were. What, in their opinion, is effective for the company? And what achievements do they want from me? Marcy explains.
During meetings, she sat upright, maintained eye contact, and appeared open and attentive. “Body language is so important – we teach it to sales people. I tried to listen carefully,” she says.
These pre-meetings helped Marcy get to know the minds and personalities of her colleagues, which was helpful when she recently decided to update the company's website and needed support to get the project off the ground.
Thanks to those conversations, Marcy was able to develop an individual approach to everyone. For example, with Stephen DeWitt, CEO, she spoke about the company's vision. She started with the analytical thinker Jeff Wald, president and managing director, with numbers. And in a conversation with the director of customer service, she focused specifically on customers.
Her efforts paid off. The company's new Work Market website will be launched this spring.
Marcy is always up to date with the latest trends and news in his professional field. This is another method by which she increases her influence. “I spend 25% of my time talking to clients, other CMOs, board people and potential clients, and educating young people. Thanks to this, I have the latest information and keep my finger on the pulse of events taking place outside the walls of this company,” says Marcy.

Ask colleagues to share their views and seek advice. Start giving them your full attention in situations where you are one on one. Morgan believes that most of us have a to-do list in our heads at all times, and it shows. When communicating with colleagues, we spin in place, get distracted by extraneous thoughts, or are ready to grab the phone. “Turn around to face the other person, stop and listen,” advises Morgan.

Control your body and voice

People are constantly deciding whether to trust you or not. It is natural for us to ask questions: “Is this person a friend or an enemy? Is he trying to hurt me, or are we on the same side? Body language plays a key role in conveying the right message. If you stand up straight with your shoulders back, it helps to give the impression of a confident and authoritative person. If you slouch while staring at the floor, it has the opposite effect. “When you slouch, you think and speak in terms of submission, thereby increasing the likelihood that you will be seen as less of an authority figure,” Morgan notes.

Let's say you have a meeting with an unfamiliar colleague from another department. Morgan advises sending him the signal that you are a friend by doing this: do not cross your arms in front of you, keep your hands along your body, but "the body open and facing the other person." He also recommends speaking in a slightly lower voice than usual to convey a sense of power. This skill is useful to rehearse, because it neutralizes the sign of nervousness - the increase in tone.

Become an expert

Another way to increase your influence at work is to become an expert in your field or company. Dori Clark suggests "getting into your own subject"—attending industry conferences, enrolling in a course or a specialized program, or taking on a leadership role in a professional organization such as a trade union or association. These are visible and overt signs that you follow the news and are aware of important events.

Customer Pain

The CEO of Jitterbit, an Oakland, Calif.-based software vendor, George Gallegos is not an authoritarian leader. “Either in my opinion, or not at all - this is not my approach. I want people to feel they have a voice and take part in the decision-making process,” he says.
In 2011, when George first joined Jitterbit, the company had about 50 clients. George understood that the future of the company lay in the cloud, but this was a new area and a difficult task for the company. “It was necessary to reorganize the work of engineers and make sure that this fact did not cause discomfort to investors. We also needed to make sure that the marketing department could understand how we planned to change our positioning,” recalls George.
He began to make strategic plans to gain support for these changes. The hardest thing to convince was Jeff, Jitterbit's senior technology leader, who was skeptical about cloud solutions. George wanted to address him with words that would not leave him indifferent: “Jeff is passionate about the success of his clients, and he also does not like to lose. So I knew I needed to give Jeff a visual representation of the challenges we're facing."
For two days in a row, George took Jeff with him to meetings with a potential client of the company. “I brought him into the trenches and let him get under fire with me. I wanted him to feel the client's pain,” says George. In 2012, Jitterbit released its first cloud-based software. The company now has 50,000 customers.

Don't hide your knowledge, Clark advises. Maintaining a professional blog or being featured in your company's newsletter is another way to showcase your expertise.

Develop a strategy

Be strategic when it comes time to use your accumulated influence to implement an idea. Clarke recommends creating a balance of power. “Create a table and indicate in it the people who make the decision on your issue,” the expert says. As you move through the levels of the table, ask questions: “Can I influence this person directly? If I can’t do it, then who in my circle of influence can influence him?” Think about how and when you will contact these people. Clarke advises presenting the situation as a war game. Ask yourself who your plans might be threatening and how you can win these people over to your side. You're not scheming - you're acting strategically, Clark reminds.

Give people what they want

You can increase your influence by convincingly presenting your idea as an advantage to the people you want to win over to your cause. Take into account their needs, attitudes and temperament. “Do your homework: figure out what they need to hear and what will grab their attention,” Morgan says.

When communicating with each of these people, be sure to answer his question: “What is my benefit here?” It is also useful to talk about how the idea will benefit the company as a whole. "Use the pronoun 'we', like 'we'll see value,'" Morgan advises.

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