At some point in your life, somebody has probably treated you badly, unfairly, cheated you, or taken advantage of you. Probably more than once. You might be tired of feeling like a doormat. Consider that there are only two ways people learn how to treat you:
1. What you teach them
2. What they get by with
If you don’t like the way somebody is treating you, the FIRST question you need to ask yourself is, “What have I taught them?”
It helps to know what to teach them. I do personality testing that lets you identify many preferences for how you want to be treated. Point: I work with many clients to identify what they want and how to ask for it. The amazing thing is that, simply by asking, they often get what they want.
This brings up the next question: What if you teach them how to treat you and they don’t? —Then I have to ask, is it because they cannot honor your request, or because they WILL not treat you like you ask.
Example of can not. I have a friend with intermediate stage dementia. Whenever we get with her for dinner, she always says, “You know what my friend Eddie used to say?”—and then I say, “I am sooo tired of hearing what Eddie used to say, please don’t repeat it again.” Then she repeats it, and laughs her cute cackling little laugh. Maybe I could take it better if I thought what Eddie said was really funny.
I know she can’t help it, so though I get irritated, I don’t get mad. I don’t leave. I don’t try to debate with her. I accept the fact that she can’t respect my preference even after I teach her what I prefer.
Example of valiant effort. I have a friendly business friend who was told not to call female prospects “sweetie” on a sales call. It took a while to retrain himself, and he learned to apologize every time he slipped.
Example of will not. An ex-friend kept inviting herself into my life. If she found out that I’m going out with friends, to the beach, even a committee meeting, she would invite herself and expect others to pay for her friendly participation. After repeatedly telling her not to do this, she became an ex-friend.
You have to decide what kind of friends and relationships you want. And you have to have the courage to set your boundaries, BIG boundaries, and maintain your boundaries. But courage and boundaries are topics for another time.