How to Handle a Bossy Person

Note: This is a series of posts on How to Handle Difficult People. These articles will guide you on how to interact with a difficult person without severing your relationship with them.

Hanging out with bossy people definitely makes me feel miserable. The catch here is they can affect us if we only let them.

It is one thing to spend time with a manipulative person and another thing to let her control you. Most people are not aware that they are domineering and controlling and, more often than not, they will get hurt if you tell them.

There are many ways to deal with a bossy person and here are some things you can try.

1. Give humor a go

Maybe the most respectful way of communicating your dislike for a person’s bossiness is to tell half-truth jokes. When she demands you to do something, you can tell her “When did you become my mother?” Something like that. Just remember to keep everything bright and funny if you want to avoid any misunderstandings or confrontations.

2. Learn to say no

If humor is not working, then you can just actually say no. Do not give an immediate “yes” when someone is asking you something. Decline the suggestion in the most polite manner possible, but don’t apologize for your refusal. You can say, “I don’t agree with you this time, and I have a better idea in mind that I’d like to try.”

Usually, a bossy person sees that you are not capable of handling things on your own that is why she is always giving you advice. When you consistently show her that you have your own principles, and you always stand firm by those principles, she will be taken aback and will begin to respect your decisions in due time.

3. Do not allow yourself to be in an argument

When you say no, chances are she will get defensive and will try to explain her motives. That all she wants is the best for you and she thinks you couldn’t handle it on your own.

Just stay silent. After she has spoken, look her straight in the eye and again say "no". This time, she might raise her voice and try to start a fight. Do not submit yourself to it and refrain from shouting back. Stay quiet and show through your facial expressions and bodily gestures the firmness of your decision.

4. Be friendly but frank

There are times when you need to be frank and tell a person that she is being bossy. This one needs to be done with proper timing, though.

Don’t embarrass a person in front of other people. Don’t talk about her manipulative nature when you can see that she is not in the right mood. It is better to do this in private so that she will realize that you don’t have bad intentions.

At times, the suggestions of bossy people are actually sensible and correct. It is just the manner they express it and the expectations they have with it that makes them disrespectful. You can tell her that her ideas are great, but you are offended by the way she is treating you.

5. Check if you are a people pleaser

Assess your people-pleasing tendencies. Are you feeling good when you make another person happy? Are you someone who always needs the approval of others to start doing something? Are you not confident of your own decisions so you ask other people’s opinions all the time? Are you agreeing to everyone blindly just to avoid any conflicts or disagreements?

If you are these things, you might be a people pleaser, and that is maybe why you are attracting bossy people into your life. 

Improve your self-confidence by pursuing personal development. Realize that you can’t be everything for everyone and you can’t please everyone. If you don’t look after yourself, other people will take advantage of you all the time.