You teach people how to treat you.

I have no idea where I first ran across this statement, but I have seen its truth repeatedly since then.

No, you don’t determine a person’s character, and therefore how they will treat you in your first interactions. But after that, many of the decisions they make regarding you are based on what they believe you will or will not do, take or not take.

The more consistent your behavior – whether negative or positive – the stronger the lesson you’re teaching will be.

For example, if you always say no, but then turn around and do the same thing you were adamant about not doing, you’re teaching that a little pressure or a guilt trip goes a long way with you. You’re teaching that your “no” doesn’t hold water. You’re teaching that your words don’t need to be taken seriously or respected.

People will always try to get their way, it’s who we are. The question is, should that be your issue? Is what someone else wants always more important than what you want? Hint: your answer should be no.

Decide on what you want in life, decide on how you want to be treated, and begin to ‘reteach’ people how to treat you. How?

Speak definitively.


Be clear about your meaning. Don’t leave people with the impression that if they just keep pushing a little you will cave. If you haven’t made a decision yet, then say that and let them know you will think about it and get back to them. Then make sure to get back to them. You have to have made a decision about how you wish to be treated and deserve to be treated before you’ll have the confidence to do this.

Act in accordance.


Now that you’ve said what you meant clearly, do what you said you were going to do. If you made a promise, keep it. If you can’t, let that person know ahead of time. Otherwise you’ll be teaching that you’re irresponsible and unreliable. If you said no, stick to it. Of course it’s possible that after more thought, you realized you wanted something different and that’s fine. However, if you’re known for being indecisive and lose opportunities as a result, you can’t do this during your ‘reteaching’ phase. You have to stick with your word.

Be consistent.


You can’t do the above two steps once and think it will make a difference in how people treat you. It won’t. Your behavior has to be consistent. You’re trying to change the opinions of others that are based on months or years of your own behavior. It won’t happen overnight. How consistent you are will have a big impact on how seriously you are taken and how long it will take. I have to pause here though: once you decide on what you want, need, and deserve, time is no longer a factor. It’s no longer about others’ opinions or trying to prove something. It becomes about doing something for yourself that needs to be done. It becomes about being real. It becomes about living life fully. It becomes about being effective, reaching for new opportunities, and achieving goals.

It’s when you finally realize who you are, what you deserve, how you’ve been sabotaging yourself, and decide to do something positive about it.

You teach people how to treat you. Teach the right lesson.

You teach people how to treat you. Teach by example – treat yourself well.

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