#66 How to Powerfully and Politely Push Back at Work

The 360 Leadhership Podcast, Episode 66, 29 March 2023 by Lucy Gernon

Finding it hard to say no or push back at work?

Being in a leadership position means you have a mountain of priorities and plates spinning in the air at one time. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. And as a woman in a leadership position, you may feel you have even more to prove, especially if you work in a male dominated environment.

Pushing back at work is important because it allows you to set boundaries and establish your priorities. Without clear boundaries, you may find yourself over committed and overworked, which can lead to burnout and resentment.

By pushing back, you can communicate your needs and preferences, and create a work environment that is better suited to your goals and values. Additionally, setting boundaries can help you to be more effective and efficient in your work, as you will have more control over your time and energy.

If you are a people pleaser and find it difficult to set boundaries, you’re not alone!

Many women leaders struggle with saying no as they do not want to seem not up for the task or incompetent, and as a result, they often feel resentful. This can lead to problems both at home and at work. But there is a way to set boundaries without being unprofessional.

In this episode, I want to share with you a method that I teach my clients called the DAD method. This method is all about getting crystal clear on what’s acceptable for you and learning how to apply and defend your boundaries.

First and foremost, it’s important to realise that you have the right to choose and control where you put your energy and time. You’re not obliged to help anyone or put anyone else first other than yourself. You are in the driver’s seat, and you get to decide what you do with your time.

I know you’re a kind, warm-hearted person who supports others, but I also know that you sometimes may feel resentful. You wonder why people don’t see how overwhelmed you are or why you’re given extra work. It’s because you don’t stand up for yourself. That’s where the DAD method comes in.

DAD stands for Define, Apply, and Defend.


The first step is to (D) define what’s acceptable for you. What do you want? Do you want to be on your emails at nighttime? Maybe you do, and that’s fine. But if you don’t, why are you doing it? Do you want to be replying to WhatsApp messages in your free time? If not, then don’t do it.

The second step is to (A) apply your boundaries. This means setting limits and communicating them to others. For example, if you don’t want to work on weekends, you need to communicate that to your boss and your coworkers. If you don’t want to answer emails after 6 pm, you need to let people know.

The final step is to (D) defend. This means standing firm in your decisions and not giving in to pressure. If someone asks you to work on a Saturday, and that’s not acceptable to you, say no. You don’t need to justify your decision or feel guilty about it. You have the right to say no.

It’s important to note that setting boundaries can be difficult. There may be some mindset work that needs to be done in advance to build the confidence to do it. But it’s worth it. You deserve to control your time and your life.

If you’re a people pleaser who struggles with setting boundaries, applying the DAD method can help.

Remember, you are in the driver’s seat, and you have the right to choose and control where you put your energy and time. Define what’s acceptable for you, apply your boundaries, and defend them. You deserve to control your time and your life.

So put on your big girl pants, channel your BDE and listen to the podcast to hear me cringe as I explain exactly what this means and how it can help you step into your superpower and start setting boundaries!

Here’s the episode at a glance:

[01:39] Why it is SO important to prioritise yourself and establish boundaries

[05:37] My powerful 3 step technique to successfully set boundaries at work

[12:29] The surprising thing that happens when you defend yourself and push back

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