Learn to Push Back


“If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.”

 —Irene Dunne


Life sometimes feels like a giant bumper car ride—people are going to push you and bump into you on all sides. Your friends, your family, your neighbors, your colleagues, your bosses, your bosses’ bosses, your politicians, salespeople, and complete strangers all want something. Don’t be the roadkill on the road to someone else’s goals. Your colleagues might ask you for favors, but if you put their goals ahead of yours, it might impede your own progress. Your friends might want to go out all the time, which might take away any free time you have to work on your personal goals.


Ironically, in the middle of writing this section, I went to grab lunch and experienced an overwhelming need to push back. I placed my order at the drive-thru, and the cashier responded, “Your order comes to $9.52.” Now I wasn’t a math major, but I knew my order should have been somewhere closer to $7.50. Passive people often let these things slide and just assume the cashier was right, or they don’t want to cause trouble or awkwardness. Although my example might seem fairly trivial, it’s the principle we’re talking about here. The cashier didn’t mean to make a mistake, but she acted as an unintentional force pushing on my well-being by taking more money than she should.


I pushed back; “Actually, I think it’s supposed to be around $7.50, right?”


She double-checked her math; “Um, oh yeah, you’re right, $7.70. Sorry about that.”


I pulled up to the window and paid, and someone else handed me my food. I noticed the drink looked smaller than the large size that I ordered. Instead of accepting it as part of my fate, I pushed back again: “Excuse me, this looks smaller than a large—is this a large?”


The guy double-checked: “Oh, no, it’s not; we can get you a large. Go ahead and keep that one.”


I was “pushed” two times by two different people in a two-minute period of time! But because I pushed back, I ended up paying the right price and receiving a bonus drink for free.


I recently experienced a more serious example when out to eat with my family. Both of my kids have gluten allergies, so we always have to be careful. Our server insisted the hamburger she delivered was gluten-free, but it didn’t look right. I asked again, and again she confirmed it was gluten-free.


Still doubtful, I then carried the burger to the manager, and he quickly observed, “Oh no, that’s not gluten-free.”


The server had her own agenda; she was busy and just wanted to get through her shift. But because I pushed back, I saved my children from physical pain and suffering.


You’ll encounter hundreds of people in life who will take advantage of you in a hundred different—and often subtle—ways if you let them. Life is full of peer pressure and situations in which complaining makes us feel uncomfortable or guilty. Sales people, financial people, colleagues, friends, etc., all want something.


Stand up for those things you care about. Don’t do things just to please others. Life is full of constant pressure—if it’s not ads in your face or people selling you something, it’s friends wanting your time, a spouse wanting you to do what they want. If you only do what others want you to do, you’ll never do things for yourself.


Stay social, my friends.



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