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5 Signs Of A Pushover

5 Signs Of A Pushover

You’re easily persuaded by your friends. Your girlfriend or boyfriend “wears the pants”. It’s not your fault. You’re the person lacking confidence to assert yourself in a situation.

In life there are leaders, and there are followers. The distinction is rather obvious. There is also a difference between a follower and a pushover. A follower is content with their position and can still make decisions for themselves, whereas a pushover knows they’re simply “falling into line” and can become rather annoyed in doing so. A follower respects the direction of their leader, but a pushover goes with the flow to avoid confrontation, hate, and attention.

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Have you ever wanted to understand the reasons why you can’t say no? Here are five signs that you are a pushover with ways to steer the control back in your favour.

“If you don’t have a plan for your life, you will fall into someone else’s plan. Guess what they have planned for you: not much.” – Jim Rohn

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You’re afraid of confrontation

You want to speak up; you want to stand for your point of view, but the thought of arguing or confronting another person makes you sick to the stomach. The idea makes you nervous so you avoid the issue and get in line behind the leader. You get angry at yourself because like the reason above, it is putting you in a position where others dictate your actions and happiness. Some people will never confront others and that’s understandable, but you can’t spend your life subduing your desires. Write an email, send a text, or even make a call; pushovers fear face-to-face more than anything so carefully constructing views in writing can help plan the conversation. Write a letter to yourself to fully understand your situation, and you’ll feel better approaching people. Just think, when the time comes to ask for a salary raise, propose marriage, say no to a dangerous work duty, etc., will you be ready?

You are always the one apologizing

You order a meal and it comes out wrong; yet you find yourself apologizing to the waiter even though it was his/her lack of communication skills that caused the mistake. This stems from a need to be liked by everyone. You don’t want to be seen as an angry or cruel person, so you smile and nod at the misfortunes caused by others. Apologizing is a mechanism used by the perennial pushover. It removes any possible negativity on your end and lets the other person know you mean no harm. It is also a weakness as it can mean you’ll be taken advantage of. So next time you’re about to apologize ask yourself, “did I do anything wrong?”. At the very least you’ll feel stupid for saying you’re sorry and next time it won’t be as hard to stop apologizing.

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You find yourself at events you didn’t want to attend

There’s a new movie out that you’ve been waiting to see for months, but your friends want to go to a party, club, or anywhere but the cinema. You join them because they keep telling you, “Come on; it’ll be fun! Don’t be boring”. Rather than spend a night happy, you’re depressed as you try to keep your friends happy. What are the alternatives? You either attempt to persuade them to go to the movie, see the movie by yourself, or go somewhere else that makes you happy. It is also important to let your friends know you are uninterested in a certain event because it would not be fair to judge them if they are unaware of your opinion. The people around you can enhance or decrease your confidence, and there is no point being at a social gathering if you’re feeling down. Try making compromises.

You don’t like to change

Change happens everywhere: new job, new house, new partner, new friends, etc. However, these changes don’t happen as often in life because your pushover-level reaches into nervousness. Keeping things the same means less confrontation (reason 2), less chance of new events (reason 1), and less need to apologize when you’re out of your depth (reason 3). If you’re a pushover, don’t you want to change? It’s a fair question, because many are content with their personality trait. Many are happy to be the follower in the pack or the couple, but you deserve to do the things that make you happy. Change may place you onto new ground but it also provides the opportunity to uncover new facts about yourself.

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You’re constantly trying to please others

In order to be liked, a pushover sacrifices their time for the sake of other people’s happiness. It’s ok; it’s the key trait of a pushover. There’s a time and place to offer your help as it must also suit you. Others will take advantage of you if they know you’ll intervene with help, due to a need to be liked. Be selfish, even if it doesn’t come naturally. Write down what you want and balance it with what you’re doing for others. Communicating with yourself is essential to the process of lessening the pushover set within you. Everyone has the ability to alter their responses to a situation. With analysis and time, you can start on a path to a life where you can have a say.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward to talk to strangers. What is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

Numerous studies have shown that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]

A very interesting by-product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Another reason is that humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources. When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

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Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

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To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

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Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the techniques to talk to strangers, moving forward, you’ll reap these many benefits of getting over the awkwardness:

  • Broadens Your Network – After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.
  • Improves Your Communication Skills – I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become. Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.
  • Continually Learning – So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment. Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.
  • Increases Self Confidence – Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves. Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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