How do I stop being bossy?


How do I stop being bossy?


your avatar   Donna W. (42 year-old woman)

I've recently become aware that some of my coworkers, peers, friends and family have the perception that I am bossy. I wasn't sure what that means, so I looked up the definition on the Internet in several dictionaries. I don't like what it says and I want to change if I can. The problem is that I really don't know what I do that makes folks feel that way. I do know that I'm not very popular and don't have a large number of friends. Seldom do any of my coworkers ask me to go to lunch with them and few seek out my companionship socially. I reckon there must be some merit in the 'bossy' comments. How do I change? Can you recommend some resources or materials? I'd appreciate any suggestions.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear "Donna W. ",

Congratulations. You have already taken the first step.

All of us have habits of holding our bodies, facial expressions, tones of voice, choice of words. We have habits of thought and emotion too, which are if anything even more entrenched. These all derive from childhood. It is these habits that define personality, and induce other people to react to you in certain ways. They see you as 'bossy' because when you want something you go about getting it in a manner that you may consider 'honest', 'direct', or 'no-nonsense'.

You may have certain thoughts in your mind, choose to say some things rather than others, your tone of voice may be sharp, and so on.

Now that you have taken the HUGE first step and decided that there is a problem for you to attack, it is possible for you to do something about it.

You are unusual in that you have put your full name in a QueenDom question. To me that implies self-confidence, inner strength, willingness to face the world.

My first suggestion is to use this strength to recruit helpers. Choose a few people who currently keep you at arm's distance, but are approachable. Tell these people that you have decided to become less bossy, and ask their help. When they notice that you are bossy, they should give you a covert little signal if you are in a group, or just tell you if the situation allows that. Later, the two of you can analyze the episode. Your mentor should try and tell you what about your behavior gave the impression of bossiness.

This will achieve two things: immediately give you some friends (people love setting others right), and help you to find those habits that make others see you as 'bossy'.

Second, find a few people who usually get their way, without being considered to be bossy by others. I am sure you know such people. Study them, in the way you and your mentors are studying you, then use them as models. When you want to get people to do something, or find someone frustrating your desires, try to achieve your aims in the way these people do.

Their way will seem 'wrong' to you, perhaps manipulative or sneaky. That doesn't matter. Do what they do, and see what the effects are.

Changing lifelong habits is immensely difficult, but possible. Please go to and read my hints about how to do it. The main thing is to be kind to yourself when you have relapses to the old ways of doing things.

If you decide to follow up on my two suggestions, you might want to send me an email to let me know how they worked for you.

Have a good life,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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