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Survival Tips for Those Who Can't Speak Up
Tired of your bossy group mate's bullying? Sick of settling for second best? Here's how to get your way in any situation!
IMAGE The CW

Have you ever wondered why some people always manage to get their way, and others are just doomed to eternal frustration? Why some people can be pushy and others are just...pushovers? The pushy know what they want, and have no problems asking for it. 

Pushovers know what they want too, but here lies the difference: They are always afraid to ask for it. Their reasons vary, but all fall under the same main concerns:

"I want everyone to like me. I don't want to rock the boat."

Maybe your friends are pressuring you to take drugs or to help them cheat. Or maybe a bully's picking on a loser that you want to defend but can't. Whatever the situation, your problem is that you're afraid to speak up and risk having people dislike you. Right? 

It's normal to be afraid that you might alienate people by speaking up for what you want (or saying no to what you don't want). We all want to be liked and accepted. There are a few things you need to remember, though:

You can't please everyone. No matter what you say or do, there will always be people who will disagree or disapprove. So if you can't please everyone anyway, might as well displease some to your benefit, or for the sake of doing what's right. It might be hard to stomach, but it's better to rock the boat (and have a few people gripe) than be stuck with a rotten deal, or curse yourself for being such a wimp.

You can't always make people like you, but you can make people respect you. Don't be afraid to stand up for what you think is wrong or unfair. In the end, whether they admit it or not, people will always respect those who can speak up—and stand their ground. They might not always like these "brave" people, but they know they can't mess with them in the future.

"I don't think I deserve it."

Hello? Self-esteem check! If this is the way you think, you definitely need some talking to. If you feel you're being treated badly, but don't think you have a right to complain, listen up:

You deserve the best. So why settle for second best—or even less? Never forget that you always have the right to ask for what you believe you deserve. 

If you don't speak up, you're the one to blame. If you think you're being abused or taken for granted (by your boyfriend, a friend, or family member), you have to say so. 

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"I don't want to make a fuss."

Some people are pushovers simply because they'd rather shut up in order to avoid an argument or any kind of hassle. The thing is, they sometimes end up doing more harm than good by keeping quiet. Have a problem with grousing in public? Ever paid a fortune for a dress you hated just because you couldn't tell the designer it made you gag? Too terrified to tell the taxi driver he's going too fast? Bear in mind: The customer is always right.   

"I have a hard time saying NO."

It's amazing just how many people end up doing things they don't want to do—just because they can't say no! What most people don't realize is you don't need an excuse to say no. It's your right, and you don't owe people explanations for your decisions—although it's always nicer to be able to give to them one.

More amazing still is the number of people who don't ask for things (even things they really need) because they're afraid the other person will say no! 

Still afraid to activate your backbone? Don't be. Life's all about risks, and those who take risks are more likely to win in the end. Remember: Attitude is everything. Believe in yourself and your own worth, and you can pretty much achieve anything.

This article originally entitled "Survival Tips for the Spineless" first appeared in Candy Magazine's March 2002 issue. 

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