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How to Find Out If Your Coworkers Think You’re Too Pushy

A new study from the Columbia Business School reveals that workers are more or less oblivious of how colleagues perceive their levels of assertiveness. The authors suggest strategies to help boost self-awareness in the office.

What’s the Latest?

A new study from the Columbia Business School reveals that workers are more or less oblivious to whether their colleagues deem them “pushy,” or if they’re considered office pushovers. Daniel Ames, a professor at Columbia and one of the study’s co-authors, describes the findings as such:

“In the language of Goldilocks, many people are serving up porridge that others see as too hot or too cold, but they mistakenly think the temperature comes across as just right—that their assertiveness is seen as appropriate. To our surprise, we also found that many people whose porridge was actually seen as just right mistakenly thought their porridge came off as too hot. That is, they were asserting themselves appropriately in the eyes of others, but they incorrectly thought they were pushing too hard.”

The study, titled “Pushing in the Dark: Causes and Consequences of Limited Self-Awareness for Interpersonal Assertiveness,” was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Every workplace has an office jerk. Although we may assume their boorishness to be deliberate, these findings imply that perhaps the office jerk finds their behavior innocuous. All in all, the Columbia study seems to point toward self-awareness being a major weak spot among society’s workforce.

In talking to NBC’s Today, Ames suggested a few strategies to overcome one’s inability to assess how you come off in the workplace. These include being more perceptive of behavioral cues that would imply exasperation. Another smart strategy is befriending certain colleagues and building a level of trust that will allow them to be straight with you:

“There’s value in knowing what other people think of you if you’re trying to influence, persuade and lead them,” Ames said.

Keep Reading at TODAY and Columbia Business School

Photo credit: bikeriderlondon / Shutterstock


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