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How to Teach People How to Treat You

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Spoiler Alert: You Don't Get to Control Anyone

“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”

-Tony Gaskins.

At this stage in our lives, most of us have had almost every role in relationships except that of a grandparent.

As a child, wife, mother, sister, aunt, niece, employee, employer, follower, leader, volunteer, minister, friend, foe tenant, landlord, and the list goes on, I have had my share of wishing others were this or that.

I wanted to be treated better than I treated myself, and it did not work, not once.

What about you? Which of your relationships do you wish were different? What do you wish would change? What have you done about it?

How people treat you is less about them than it is about you.

This weekend, think of one relationship you would like to improve.

Spend some undistracted time reflecting, and writing down your thoughts, to

Step 1: Clarify Your Context

1. Who You Are

2. What You Want in Life

3. How This Relationship Helps You Achieve That

4. Core Objectives of This Relationship

5. What Your Role in the Relationship is

6. What The Other Person/People's Role is/are

With clarity about yourself, the relationship, and the parties' roles in the relationship, you can move to:

Step 2: Audit Your Behavior Against Your Objectives

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least, and 10, the most, how effective have you been with:

1. Doing What is Your Responsibility in the Relationship

2. Allowing Other/s to Do What They Are Responsible For

3. Not Taking on More Than What is Yours to Do

4. Not Allowing Others to Pass on Their Responsibilities to You

5. Communicating When Roles & Responsibilities Become Confused or Compromised

Like Tony Gaskins said, "You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce."

If the findings in Steps 1 & 2 signal major areas of improvement, I challenge you to proceed to:

Step 3: Communicate Your Position in Word & Deed

Reach out to the other parties in the relationship with the aim to

1. Clarify Mutual Understanding

2. Reiterate Common Objectives

3. Review Roles & Responsibilities

4. Set Healthy Boundaries

5. Agree on Action on Breach

"What if they don't want to go through this process with me, Modesta?"

In the unfortunate situation where others choose not to cooperate, it is still on you to choose what you will do.

Who you are, what you are worth, where you want to go, what you have to offer, and what you want in return, is up to you.

It is on you to make decisions to reinforce this in your relationships; allowing what aligns, and stopping what does not align with your ultimate vision, values, and purpose for engaging in this relationship.

Love, peace, respect, recognition, support, balance, growth, income, promotion, time freedom, impact - it is you who determines what you get.

You teach people how to treat you by how you treat yourself in your relationship with them.

NB/As leaders, it is we who more often than not "mistreat" others we are in relationship with. May this twist on this age-old wisdom guide you as you reflect on your role, responsibilities, and behavior in your relationship with others:

"Do to others what you would have wanted your leader to do to you when you were in their position."

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