Do you know anybody you act just a little bit differently around than other people? Maybe you walk on eggshells around them or you talk differently to them? You know the ones–they’re going to have their way, no. matter. what. Well, that’s just bad. You should not have to walk on eggshells around people. That means you’re not letting your light shine and you’re not being yourself. And you should be!
Maybe you’re the person on the other side. You know you can manipulate your girlfriend or your brother or your neighbor because there’s just something about you that has taught them they can’t say no to you, no matter how ridiculous the situation or request. That’s just lame and you need to stop.
Think about every situation you can where somebody lets another person continually have the upper hand when they shouldn’t. Those are not good situations! Here’s an example.
I used to work for an organization that took advantage of their employees’ time like I’ve never heard of before or since. One of the heads of the organization was almost abusive about the time he required me (and others) to be places, but I never found the courage to stand up to him. Instead, I withered on the vine, so to speak, in what should have been my dream job. I should have laid down the law as to what was acceptable, but instead, he kept putting demands on my time and I got angry and resentful.
I let that employer/employee relationship fester to the point I looked for a different job rather than try to confront him in a professional way and make the situation better. I didn’t do the right thing. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and I did learn from the experience.
Conversely, early in that same job, very late one night, I randomly checked my email and responded to a message. Considering the late hour, I didn’t imagine anyone would respond to it until the next day. I was wrong. The other head of the organization was up and working because the organization was his baby. He lived and breathed it. He gave me a directive that I could have responded to right then but I chose not to. I knew if I responded and continued the conversation, I would set a precedent letting him know that I was available at all hours. I didn’t want to because I knew he called and woke some of my co-workers up in the middle of the night and early in the mornings. Setting that boundary was good because he always honored it and quite frankly, that is one of the reasons I still think he’s a delightful person.
Now I know what I’m not OK with as far as demands on my time from my employer and I know when I need to push back. It doesn’t mean I’m great at it, and I can’t always have my way because of the nature of the work, but I’m tons better at it than before. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called the ‘squeaky wheel’ or the ‘boat rocker’ or been told in a meeting, ‘of course you have a question’. At least I’m using my voice this time around!
Here are three tips to help you teach people how to treat you better.
- Determine what it is about the treatment you’re receiving that isn’t acceptable. Is it the way you’re being spoken to? Is it the demands on your time? Are you being challenged in uncomfortable ways? Does a friend or family member make fun of you in public? Maybe your sister shows up at your place unexpectedly and drops her kids off, because you’re there, so she can have time to herself.
- Decide how you should be treated differently. What would the ideal situation or relationship look like? Define it. For example: I want my sister to ask me before she drops the kids off at my house.
- Let the other person know. This could take a great deal of courage and maybe even some help from somebody else. You have nothing to lose when you do this. Maybe the other person doesn’t even know they’ve treated you badly. Maybe they think they have a valid reason you don’t know about. Sis, I don’t always want to watch your kids. I’m happy to help now and then, but you need to check in with me first. Thanks.
I know my example (sister) was an easy situation, but you know, this lesson goes for all types of relationships. We let people speak to us, make demands, and treat us in ways that only continue to if we let them. If somebody you know takes advantage of you, think about why they do. It could be they’re just a Class A jerk, or it could be that you’ve let them think you’re OK with it and won’t do anything. Cease and desist, my friends!
Really, if at all possible, put an end to it.
Obviously, it’s not always cut-and-dry and simple. People are often in very manipulative situations where the power structure is way out of balance. I understand that and those situations are a topic for a different day. Be really honest with yourself about what you deserve and want and don’t sell yourself short. Definitely get help if you need it.
Bottom line, we should all be treated with respect and we should treat others with respect as well. People will get used to you speaking your mind and they will honor that about you.
What do you think? Do you have any helpful suggestions for anybody who needs to stand up for themselves? Let’s hear ’em!