How To Teach People How To Treat You

How To Teach People How To Treat You

It’s always interesting to me when I listen to someone tell me how a person in their life continuously treats them in a way they don’t like.  For instance my boss is always coming down on the quality of my work.  Or a co-worker comes by my cube in our cube farm 10 times a day to talk about fantasy football and I ain’t got time for that.  As a matter of fact it’s because this guy’s distracting me that makes my quality of work shitty that gets my boss on my ass.  My wife is never happy with how I do the dishes or vacuum’s the floors or dusts the living room or makes the bed or mows the lawn.  I’ve got this one friend that “accidentally” leaves his wallet at the office 50% of the time when we hit the bar after work on Thursday and I have to choke up his bar tab.  The guy that changes my oil always seems to find something else wrong with my car and practically berates me into replacing some part I never knew existed.  I got news for all you people that bitch about how other people piss you off or treat you bad or stiff you with the check – you’ve got control over that.  Let’s discuss a few ways how to teach people how to treat you.

Why Nice Guys Screw Themselves

Not changing topics here I promise.  I’m simply laying the ground work.  Now if any of you know of Athol Kay this may be familiar to you.  I really got my eyes opened to the concept of how to teach people how to treat you from his ground breaking book “The Married Man’s Sex Life Primer 2011”.  I’m not going to discuss the book here, I will have another post where I review the book because I believe it’s chock full of great information for guys.  As a matter of fact a guy I used to be a in a men’s group with told me a ways back he’d bought the book for his 2 sons that were married as a guide to help them in marriage – love it.  Needless to say he was having a few issues in his marriage but I digress.

In Athol’s book he discuss’s how a lot of guys only know how to play the nice guy card in their marriage and how it can lead to horrible frustration.  Even though this is an oversimplification this is basically how it works.  Husband and wife get home from work after grinding it out on the job all day.  Each person can be either nice or mean (again, oversimplified but in general it’s true – pleasant to be around or not pleasant to be around).  Scenarios:

  1.  Husband Nice/Wife Nice – Both have a pleasant evening together, chores and tasks get shared.  Overall vibe is nice and pleasant.
  2. Husband Mean/Wife Nice – Wife does most of the tasks and chores, husband avoids them.  Husband is rude and complains openly about quality of wife’s work.  Husband sits on ass much of night.
  3. Wife Mean/Husband Mean – Relationship is rocky all night with key tasks left undone.  Things might be stable but it’s stable at a very low level of happiness and quality.  Tension’s in the air.
  4. Wife Mean/Husband Nice – Wife keeps saying she is too tired/depressed/overworked to do tasks.  Husband picks up the slack and does most everything.  Wife is hardly ever in the mood for sex.  Wife avoids most tasks.

So what happens with nice guys is that they employ the same strategy ALL THE TIME.  That is, THEY ARE ALWAYS NICE.  No matter what happens or what kind of mood the wife is in, they are always nice.  Besides becoming extremely frustrated as to why his wife treats him like shit when he is always being nice look at what has happened here – his wife has learned that she can treat him any way she wants and he will ALWAYS BE NICE to her.  He has taught her it’s okay to treat him like crap, he will always be nice.  And then the fun really begins as the years add up…….

It Starts With You

The way you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you.  I’ve mentioned it before in a post and I will be expanding on the concept in other posts but first and foremost you must love and respect yourself.  An alarmingly high number of people don’t love or really even like the person they are.  They not only allow others to treat them badly, they treat themselves badly!  By never doing good things for yourself such as trying to take care of the body you were given or feeding your mind inspiring information or even letting yourself off the hook when you screw up you treat yourself poorly.  If you don’t treat yourself like you deserve, no one else will.  This works exactly the same with respect.  If you continually are calling yourself things like fat, lazy, dumb, not good enough, or any other inner trash talk you aren’t respecting yourself.  The same holds true when you can’t take a compliment.  When someone tells you that you look pretty, say thank you and believe them.  Accept their kind words.  Don’t say “No I’m not, I’m ugly”.  You are showing that you don’t have any belief that you could possibly be pretty.  You must model externally how you yourself want to be treated.  Be the type of person you want to meet and hang out with.  Be that person.  Love yourself and respect yourself.

Learn and Use the Power of NO!

When you allow people to manipulate you and guilt you into doing things you don’t really want to do, you aren’t respecting yourself very much and you are showing people it’s okay to ask you to do stuff anytime they want.  Personally I had a really hard time with this for a long time.  It was easy for me to get “guilted” into doing something I didn’t want to do.  It took a lot of hard work to get myself to the point of not feeling guilty when I told someone no, I can’t help them do whatever.  I am very much of a giver and a helper but I don’t simply jump to attention like a dog waiting for a treat when someone asks me to help out with something.  My time and energy mean something to me and if you are going to ask for my help you must respect that.  I do it for you, I deserve the same.  I run a tight ship in terms of how time is allocated in my life, I spend it on things that are important to me.  If you ask me to help you move something 2 hours before you want it moved, I will tell you no.  Why?  It’s not because I don’t want to help you, it’s because I already have plans (about 98% of the time).  I actually feel about 180 degrees different that I used to.  Now I think the person that would ask me that is being rude and entitled by assuming they are so important people will drop whatever they are doing to go help them.  Whatever.  It’s okay to say no when someone isn’t being respectful of your time, your talents, your energy, your presence.  Give it a try.  Respect your own time for a change.  Say no everyone once in a while, see how it feels on your tongue.

Establish Some Boundaries

The concept of boundaries is not a clear cut one.  It’s something we all must navigate on our own as we move through life.  Basically a boundary is what you are willing to accept in your life.  Let’s toss out a few examples and see if they make sense.

Let’s say your boss asks you to work an extra 5 hours this week because of a big project.  You’re a team player, you say sure boss, happy to help, and you do it.  A few weeks later the boss asks you to work extra hours again because the department is behind and needs to catch up.  This time you aren’t quite as happy to help but you say sure, I’m in.  And you do it.  Fast forward 6 months and now you’re working 50-55 hours a week, every week and you’re pissed.  In order to change that you are going to have to tell your boss that you are willing to work 45 hours a week max.  Or you’ll work 40 and expect overtime for anything over that.  Or whatever.  And you have to stick to it.  And if the boss doesn’t respect your wishes and keeps expecting you to work 55 hours a week with no additional compensation or consideration, you find another job.  You establish your boundary (45 hours a week, anything over that is overtime) and if he doesn’t respect it, you walk.  That’s a boundary.

Let’s say you’ve noticed that the number of times you and the Missus bump boots has gone down to once a month.  This does not make you happy.  You try to talk to her about it and she agree’s that she wants more too, let’s do it.  Then things pick up for a while then taper back down to once a month.  You are unhappy again.  You talk about it again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  If it’s a big deal to you that you really enjoy fun time and in your world it’s important to you that it happens once a week or whatever, you must clearly state this want and need.  Now hopefully she will be on-board with the program and it’s up to you to really make the time something engaging and something that is a good thing for both.  If for some reason she doesn’t want to work together to find a solution that works for both or your words continually fall on deaf ears, you’re going to have a decision to make.  You’ve set your boundary at once a week – that’s what’s important to you.

Boundaries get a little fuzzy when it comes to what do you do when someone doesn’t respect your boundary.  Many people utilize it like an ultimatum but really it’s about what is acceptable to your in your life.  Really the only way to enforce a boundary (and gain your own respect and others to follow) is to remove yourself from the situation.  That’s really the only way you can show what’s acceptable and/or tolerable to you.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day you really set the stage for how other people.  It’s within your power.  And that’s a concept that many many people have a hard time with.  They feels things just happen to them.  People treat them a certain way.  And that’s simply not true.  You have a lot of influence over your surroundings and the what goes on in them.  And you have an immense impact on how others treat you.  You have to start with yourself.  Learn to treat yourself well and respect yourself.  Even if you’ve done things that make you not like yourself very much or lose some respect for yourself.  It’s okay, we all screw up and make mistakes.  What’s important is knowing that you are in charge of your life and you can teach people how to treat you the way you want to be treated.  Start by treating yourself the way you want others to treat you.

All my best,

Mat A.

Mat A.

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  1. Hi Mat. I really love this article! I’ve been saying this for years. Helping others to see that we are responsible to teach people how to treat us puts the power back in our court. Taking power back (and/or realizing that we HAVE power) is so valuable, so empowering! Thank you for posting this!!

    1. Hi Randene,

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts.  Awesome to hear that you agree!  That’s really what it’s all about – each and every one of us remembering we have the power over our own lives.  Thanks!

      Mat A.  

  2. Hi. Great post. I’ve been reading and contemplating a lot lately on how we view our self-worth. Many times we don’t think we’re worth being respected, oftentimes because we don’t respect ourselves. I think we need to start there.

    We also tend to self-sabotage. Whether it’s from how we think of ourselves or how we think others think of us. We tend to underrate ourselves and then say and do things to ensure we met our low expectations.

    I like your piece on setting boundaries. I don’t do that enough: with myself, my wife, co-workers, just about everyone. I need to think about this and which boundaries I need to set – now! Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Hi Rick,

      Appreciate you reading the post and sharing your thoughts, absolutely great to hear.  Totally agree with you on the self sabotage deal.  Just last night I was listening to Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. speak (his father wrote the 4 Agreements) and a HUGE part of this is how we all seem to have that voice in our head talking to us – and way too many times its negative talk.  Not tall enough, skinny enough, smart enough, etc.  It defeats self love.

      Glad you liked the boundaries part.  It make sense from a conceptual standpoint, much harder when you try to employ it in our own lives.  VERY much worth doing, just tough.  Thanks!

      Mat A.  

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