How to Not Be A Pushover: A Guide for Introverts - The Petite Introvert

How to Not Be A Pushover: A Guide for Introverts

Use this guide when you realize enough is enough.

Introverts may be quiet and reserved, but hell if they are doormats.

You don’t leave bullies in high school. Although adult life is filled with bright and shiny experiences like college, internships, and your first job, bullies are still lurking. And there’s no denying that bullies are especially attracted to introverts.

Bullies take advantage of our quiet persona–speaking over us, gossiping about us, excluding us, and pushing us around.

Some get frustrated because they can’t figure us out. Our silence irks them. Consequently, they attempt to fill in the blanks and spread rumors.

It doesn’t make sense why introverts are targets for bullies. We’re just minding our own business. Regardless, bullying is a problem many introverts have to face.

However, each bully comes with an opportunity to stand up for yourself. Introverts have unique personality traits that can be used when approaching a bully. In my 8 steps to NOT be a pushover, you’ll see where these personality traits come into play. If you want to follow along with a FREE worksheet, click here.

Disclaimer: This guideline applies to adult bullies disguised as classmates, roommates, or coworkers. If you are younger, please talk to an adult about bullies! (Children may be little, but they are vicious!). Even if you’re an adult, this guide only applies to situations that can be fixed by open communication. If there’s any violence or violation of human rights, please report it and stay safe!

1. Pretend you are a company

Seriously! Pretend you are a company.

2. Determine your core values

You are a company with core values. One that takes stances on these core values and doesn’t waiver.

Now, what are your core values?

For example, my 5 core values are Authenticity, Fairness, Honesty, Openness, and Responsibility.

Determining your core values helps you focus on what you’re fighting for. Introverts are self-aware and thoughtful. As a result, they can easily make excuses for bullies when reflecting on what happened.

Don’t get lost in making excuses for them!!! Although expressing empathy for bullies is admirable, it will prevent you from standing up for yourself. You need to focus on what you deserve!

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3. Formulate a contract

It’s time to set boundaries. Think of these boundaries as part of a business contract for your company. In other words, integrate your core values into the rules outlined in the contract. If anyone wants to work with you, they need to strictly follow these rules. If there’s a breach of contract, stand up for your core values. Give them a chance to right their wrongs but make sure they never do it again.

This is a bold move. But we’re learning how to not be a pushover, right? One act of courage sets the stage for a lifetime of integrity.

For example:

My core value of Authenticity is threatened when others lie or cheat.

My core value of Fairness is threatened when others are unjust or disrespectful.

And so on…

'One act of courage sets the stage for a lifetime of integrity.'Click To Tweet

4. There’s a breach of contract–now what?

Enough is enough. Someone crossed the line–maybe several times already, and you’ve had it.

Now you do what introverts do best: observe and reflect.

Ask yourself:

  1. What did I observe?
  2. How was it a breach of contract?
  3. Could it be a misunderstanding?
  4. What could they have done better?
  5. What could I do better next time?

For example:

  1. What did I observe?
    • I observed April speak over me during the meeting. I wasn’t able to finish what I was saying.
  2. How was it a breach of contract?
    • It was a breach of contract because it was disrespectful and threatened my core value of Fairness. I believe in Fairness to have an equal opportunity to speak up during meetings.
  3. Could it be a misunderstanding?
    • At first, I thought she was just excited to introduce her point. Then it happened a few more times during the meeting, even when I was several sentences in.
  4. What could they have done better?
    • April could have apologized for interrupting and allowed me to finish my point.
  5. What could I do better next time?
    • Next time, I will try my best to speak louder and attempt to continue my point if anyone interrupts.

Answering these questions allows you to see the situation clearly. It’s important to understand what happened, so you can calmly address it. Which brings me to…

5. Develop main talking points

Standing up for yourself takes guts. It also takes action.

And I’m not talking about the silent treatment or hoping they notice your death stare from across the room.

I’m not going to deny the impact of a death stare, but we all know it’s just an invitation for more conflict.

So what I’m saying is…don’t hate me for this, but…you need to talk to them about it.

This is where your situation differs from a company. A company usually has a lawyer that mediates the conversation. Emotions can escalate whenever they please.

You do not have this privilege.

Organizing your thoughts will make it easier to focus on the situation instead of your emotions. I’m guilty of letting my emotions control me, making it impossible to approach conflict without bursting into tears of frustration. Above all, developing main talking points helps to build confidence and leads to successful conflict resolution.

Use these 3 main talking points to address conflict:

  1. I noticed…
  2. I felt…
  3. This can be handled better in the future by…in order to…

For example:

  1. I noticed that you spoke while I was speaking during the meeting.
  2. I felt like I didn’t get a chance to contribute fully to the conversation because I didn’t get to finish my point.
  3. This can be handled better in the future by waiting a few seconds to speak after I stop talking in order to make sure I’m done making my point.

Avoid words that attack character. Certainly, you don’t want to escalate a situation that can be easily fixed with open communication.

Before approaching them with these talking points, ask in person or via text/email, “I would like to speak in private. When are you available?”

Speaking in private takes away outside influence. As a result, you’ll prevent any embarrassment or drama in the long run.

Now it’s time to…

6. Consider worst-case scenario

Okay, I’m sure my fellow over-analyzers know this one very well.

You may be thinking, “Aren’t I supposed to avoid this?”

The key is to consider the worst-case scenario AFTER you develop your main talking points. If you jump the gun and immediately think worst-case scenario, it can leave you paralyzed. Consequently, you will no longer have the guts to stand up for yourself.

It’s okay to wonder what the worst-case scenario is. It makes you realize the worst is not the end of the world. 

A worst-case scenario, like your classmate starting a screaming match or your coworker trying to get you fired, is unlikely to be the result of a clear-minded, adult conversation.

If you believe worst-case scenario is likely to occur, please consider reporting it to those trained to handle conflict, such as a Human Resources.

I have approached bullies in many different environments, including school, clubs, work, and conferences. None of these conversations resulted in a worst-case scenario.

They were all embarrassed by their actions and apologized immensely. Except for that one time with my roommate… but I definitely didn’t prepare talking points for that one… or hold back attacks on character. Spoiler alert: that “conversation” ended in a screaming match. Don’t be 19-year-old me.

7. Think before you speak–no matter how long it takes

This is another introvert personality trait you can use to your advantage.

Introverts take longer to process outside stimulation. Don’t let anyone make you rush this process. Even if they start to raise their voice or throw a tantrum.

When you think before you speak, you stay in control of the conversation. You are calm. You are level-headed. And you are able to focus on the situation at hand.

No matter what direction the conversation goes, you can say what you want because you organized your thoughts, you know what’s at stake, and you are in control.

'When you think before you speak, you stay in control of the conversation.'Click To Tweet

8. Remember, you can’t change anyone

They admitted it. You were right, they were wrong. Now, you can sue them for a billion dollars!!!


Bullies are bullies, and you’ll be lucky to get a sorry out of them.

They may not even apologize or admit they were wrong.

Their reaction doesn’t matter. You got it out of your system and did all you could do. Most importantly, you stood up for yourself.

Whether they like it or not–from now on, they will think twice about crossing you and others.

That’s right. You’re not just standing up for yourself. You are standing up for others that cross their path.

Maybe this bully had a tough life and took it out on you. Their actions may just be a bad habit no one ever addressed. Maybe they just needed someone to point it out and end it once and for all.

You may never know the true result of your act of courage. But remember, one act of courage sets the stage for a lifetime of integrity.

Click here to sign up for your FREE Tough Conversations Worksheet

Related posts:

Do you consider yourself an introvert, quiet, or soft-spoken? Have you been taken advantage of or been pushed around because of your nice personality? Check out my step-by-step guide for introverts that helps you find your voice and stand your ground when encountering mean classmates or coworkers. #pushover #introvert #bullying
How to Not Be A Pushover: A Guide for Introverts


    • steadyblooming
      March 26, 2018 / 8:30 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it <3 Thanks so much for your support!!

  1. March 26, 2018 / 10:34 pm

    I am an introvert and really agree with this guide. Sometimes enough is enough.

    • steadyblooming
      March 26, 2018 / 10:38 pm

      So glad to see another introvert stand up for herself ^_^

  2. Alexa
    March 26, 2018 / 11:44 pm

    I really liked this article! I thought it was a very creative way to help others to not be a pushover

    • steadyblooming
      March 26, 2018 / 11:57 pm

      So glad you enjoyed reading it!! ^_^

  3. March 27, 2018 / 6:31 am

    What a great article! Some really useful, well-thought out and creative advice.

    • steadyblooming
      March 27, 2018 / 6:39 am

      Thank you! This means so much <3 I'm hoping it can help others through difficult situations!

  4. March 27, 2018 / 8:10 pm

    These are great tips! I hate how some people consider introverts as people they can walk all over. I am an introvert but I still have friends, a job, interests, hobbies, and I am a very strong independent woman.

    • steadyblooming
      March 28, 2018 / 7:45 pm

      Yaaas! LOVE that last sentence! Super true. Just because we don’t talk about ourselves, doesn’t mean we don’t have lives. Wish people didn’t see quiet as weak, but that won’t stop me from showing them what strong is if they push me!

  5. October 26, 2018 / 9:08 am

    Alexis! I love this so much! You are so amazing and this advice is incredible. I find myself struggling to take my emotions and think through them before approaching someone, or just being so scared of approaching someone that I never bother to do it. This advice is absolutely PERFECT!

    annabelle |

    • Alexis
      October 26, 2018 / 5:15 pm

      I’m so glad this reached you then!! And you’re so sweet :’) Thanks so much for reading–I hope it helps you with any future conflicts!

    June 6, 2019 / 6:18 pm

    Well this article was definitely great reading and I’m going to use this as a stepping stone to better my life as a Introvert… Thank you

    • Alexis
      July 7, 2019 / 11:06 am

      So sorry it took me this long to reply!! Been on an unexpected hiatus from my blog, but this comment has been my everyday reminder why I need to get back to writing <3 Thank you so much for reading and I'm so glad you found it helpful!!

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