Who made you boss?


Someone close to you is bossy. He/she is always telling you how you should do things. You're an adult, capable of making your own choices. You resent this bossy interference! But you usually go along with The Boss, because, when you have told him to butt out, it ended in arguments.

Going along with a pushy person is your first mistake. Arguing with him is your second. In either case, it only enables him to become even more strong-minded.

What are you supposed to do, move to Canada to get away from him?

You could. But try something less drastic. When The Boss attacks -- "I'm telling you, wear your hair shorter. It would be more flattering" -- reply on two levels:

* First, acknowledge The Boss's right to his opinion -- "I know you like short hair better than long."

* Then, calmly define your personal turf -- "But it's my hair and I prefer it this way."

The Boss probably won't like your new approach, so remember this:

* When you respond by defining your personal turf, you're changing the ground rules. The Boss, wanting to have his way, may try to manipulate you with statements like, "Well, I only have your interest at heart." Don't bite. Rather, simply say "Thank you" and change the subject.

* When responding to The Boss, be consistent, stick to your new ground rules. Over time, he'll accept the message.

* And even though you may suffer The Boss's displeasure during this process, isn't that more acceptable than feeling displeased with yourself for knuckling under?

Barbara Turk is a psychotherapist in private practice.

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