How To...Teach People How To Treat You

            This blog was prompted by an experience I had at work with one of my managers who found it necessary to contact me during my lunch break to ask about something work related… #Nope! Keep in mind I had already made a general announcement stating I was going to lunch and when he called my name I also replied with a reminder. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the conversation and he continued to express what he originally called me for, showing a complete disregard for the reality that I deserve an uninterrupted lunch break. As I proceeded to turn off my walkie and enjoy my lunch break without any further interruption, it dawned on me that it would’ve been common practice for that to be acceptable. Well not for me, because I demand the work/life balance my company gives us, not for that personal time to be abused by my managers.

            This happens all the time with the late-night work emails, phone calls on your days off, and the ever so popular coming into work on your days off. Even though I am a manager at a very busy retailer, I will not get into a habit of being married to a job that if I died they would replace me without even missing a beat. Now will I work myself to the bones for my business, sorority, and even for the cheer team I coach…because those are things I love and am passionate about and will see in my future. This 1-hour lunch break will be a blimp in history 5 years from now, but in this moment it’s the very thing I need and it’s what I deserve! So, let’s talk about HOW you teach people to treat you!


1.     Set Boundaries!

Far too many times we’re treated poorly simply because we have not set boundaries or assume that our boundaries are self-explanatory. If you do not communicate those boundaries to those who have crossed them (or about to cross them), honestly how will they know? Set limits on what you’re willing to allow someone to do in your life and communicate them (actively or passively…just communicate it!). Those boundaries are going to look very different and will be evaluated on a case by case basis, for example my mother and my boss have very different boundaries…but they both have boundaries that I enforce when necessary.

I will say that setting boundaries with family is probably the hardest thing to do because you love them and want to be there for them at all times. But you can’t be everything for everyone at the same time, at some point you’re going to have to say no…or suffer the consequences. Boundaries keep you safe and more importantly they keep you sane!  Failure to set boundaries teach those you interact with that you’re willing to accept any treatment they give you. Every time you answer the work call late at night or on your day off…you’re telling them that it’s okay. I have a friend that will REFUSE to answer the door if you did not call ahead and just decide to pop up at her house, she will listen to you knock on the door repeatedly and think nothing of it…one of her boundaries is that you must ask her before just showing up at her house.

Be clear, you don’t have to rude or even angry about it when you’re setting the boundary, sometimes a passive response is more appropriate. When a work call comes in during my time off, I don’t have to answer and curse them out…I just don’t answer the phone and we can discuss whatever it was when I return. Just like my friend doesn’t have to yell at you about not calling ahead, she just won’t answer the door. Then I have another friend who’s best friend will consistently show up at her house late at night without any advanced notice…well you’ve taught her that it’s okay! While you’re setting boundaries for those around you, please also respect the boundaries they have as well!

2.     Learn to say “no”

I’m not sure why, but this is such a complicated word for so many to say, receive, and understand. The more you begin to use this word, you will find such freedom and peace in turn which will allow you to say “yes” to so much more! I need you to understand that “no” is a complete sentence that doesn’t require any further explanation! We are so afraid to tell people “no” that when we finally muster the courage we feel obligated to present a 10 page thesis explaining our decision. No. That’s it!

The more you find yourself saying “no” to requests you deem necessary, you will begin to experience just a freedom and peace about it all. It will lead towards you having more time available to do things you’re interested in and align with your goals and purpose. It will be challenging at times, but I promise you that it’s worth it for your overall wellbeing and productivity. Has there ever been a time you agreed to do something that you really didn’t want to do…only for something more appealing to come up and you couldn’t because you had already committed? Imagine if you’d said “no”, you’d be available to say “yes” to something else.

3.     Put your needs first

Face it…if someone can put their responsibilities on your plate then they will (especially in a work environment). But what happens to your responsibilities? They still have to get done right? So that means late nights and long hours for you. You have to ensure that you’re not accepting additional work and responsibilities in the name of helping others until you’re taken care of. This includes friends, family, work, anything! If you’re down to your last $10 and someone needs $9…are you going to give it to them knowing you have a bill due for $5? While some will…the self-care option would be to pay for $5 bill then give the remaining $5 to help the other person.

Take care of your needs and responsibilities first and then you can evaluate the time, energy, and attention you have available for those who need you. I can be honest and say that I used to be the person who would give you the shirt off my back and strut around topless until I figured something else out. It was an unhealthy balance and it left me feeling resentment towards those who would do the same. Instead I’ve learned that I shouldn’t give the shirt off my back, but if there is an extra one in the closet they can have it! It is possible to be a giving, supportive, and caring person without being abusive to yourself, it just requires balance and a a commitment to self-care.

4.     Evaluate what you’re accepting

We teach people how to treat us by what we’re willing to accept from them and it is reinforced every single time. If you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship dynamic, have an honest conversation with yourself to discover when you taught that person it’s okay. “If you give an inch they’ll take a mile”…take a moment to reflect on the moment you gave the inch and from there start to recreate boundaries. If you’re implementing new boundaries, this may require a more active form of communication to allow them to receive the message quicker. Please ensure that your words and actions are aligned in order to provide a clear message to those around you. You can’t say “this is my boundary” then turn around and do something completely different. When your words and actions don’t align, you allow others the opportunity to decide which is the truth based on which benefits them.

5.     Speak up for yourself

No one is going to speak louder for you than you are willing to. Honestly speaking no one can. I have to remind one of my coworkers to speak up for her on a pretty regular basis, which I’m more than willing to do. But ultimately I cannot speak for her, she has to set those boundaries for herself…but I can be there to cheer her on when she does! You have to get to a place where you’re willing and able to fight for yourself and demand the treatment you deserve. Afterall, if you don’t speak up those around you are going to assume you don’t care and they’re going to continue to treat you any way they deem necessary. The worse thing you can do is tell those around you that anything is acceptable, it’s a slippery slope from there!