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When You Teach People How to Treat You, Start with These 8 Pillars of Conduct

When you teach people how to treat you, you’ll get the best results when you begin with an examination of how you treat yourself and behaviors you allow. “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” ~ Brené Brown

You deserve to be treated with value and respect. You may not feel that you do because of how others have treated you throughout your life. You don’t deserve to be mistreated. Yet there are some questions to consider: Do we, in any way, bear some responsibility? Is it possible to improve difficult relationships? Can you really teach people how to treat you better?

Teaching people to treat you better doesn’t mean you’re demanding they cater to your every whim and never disagree with you. All healthy relationships need a balance of give and take.

I’m talking about when someone isn’t giving you the respect and courtesy you deserve. What can you do to teach people how to treat you better then? You don’t want to sink to their level and retaliate in kind. If at all possible, you want to elevate their behavior. Here are eight foundational pillars of thought and action to build upon:

1. Know your values. For example, we need others to respect us. That’s not something we can demand from others; it’s something we earn by consistently modeling respect for ourselves, without being arrogant. It’s important that you don’t accept disrespect. Show them how to elevate their behavior by modeling respect as you firmly reject their disrespect. Sometimes this means walking away with dignity. It means staying C.A.L.M. and compassionate, looking for ways to restore balance within yourself and within the relationship if possible.

Am I mindfully aware of my core values and my code of ethics?

2. Treat yourself well. Your physical appearance, hygiene, dress and grooming, and how you speak about yourself sends messages to others about how you expect to be treated. If you don’t care, then few people will go to the effort of raising you up. In these troubled times, people are too busy trying to keep themselves on an even keel.

Am I sending the right message to others?

3. Avoid assuming other know what you need. Rather than waiting for a blow up to talk about something emotional, initiate a conversation, during calm and quiet times, to talk about your needs specifically and clearly. And remember to inquire how these fit in with what the other person needs. Model the behavior you desire: listen to be listened to, be more affectionate to spark more romance.

Am I expecting others to read my mind?

4. Set clear boundaries. What messages are you sending? Are they consistent? Or are they on again, off again? We all benefit from deciding on our “rules of engagement” — what is consistently acceptable and what is unacceptable. Doesn’t this quote by Brené Brown sum it up well?

“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”

5. Refrain from “letting it all hang out.” At one time we were advised: “If you feel it, express it, however it wants to come out.” You are entitled to your emotions. Some have misinterpreted this to mean they can use pouting, silent treatments, or yelling, criticizing, and bullying. Hurtful behavior leads to damaged relationships. Compassionate behavior leads to healing. Take calming breaths and reframe your need in a way that avoids accusations…“I’m feeling _______ right now. Can we talk about it? I think if _____ happened, it would help.”

Do my communication skills need work?

6. Reward behaviors you like. Getting so wrapped up in your own feelings can blind you to seeing the kind, loving acts that others do daily. Notice. Acknowledge. Express gratitude. These three things are great motivators to deepen healthy relationships.

Do I need to hone my awareness, so that I see opportunities for gratitude?

7. Be patient and suspend judgment. The “I’m right! You’re wrong.” attitude is not helpful. All of us have internal work to do before it’s seen within our external actions. We are just in different places along the same journey in life. Remember that behaviors don’t change overnight. When the other person is trying, be appreciative. However, if someone absolutely refuses to budge, it may be time to move on from that relationship.

Has being “right” become too important to me?

8. Forgive often. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Retaliation brings you down to their level. Keeping score is only for baseball, not real life. Holding grudges is like picking at wounds and never letting them heal. You’re not responsible for fixing anyone. I don’t believe anyone needs to be fixed.

How can I become attuned to my body sensations so I recognize somatically what each situation is teaching me?

The goal when you teach people how to treat you isn’t to control someone else. It’s to create an environment where the desired behavior has room to grow; where its tender start is nurtured and encouraged.

My colleague, Louise Santiago, and I are creating such a nurturing environment in our 3rd annual Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat. Yes, we’re making plans for 2022! Won’t you join us? Early bird discount ends October 1, 2020.

Setting Boundaries


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