• Stan did everything he could to keep his wife from becoming angry. He avoided conversations he knew would be upsetting, he tried to complete all the tasks she told him to do and he would take her side in most conflicts with others. He hoped that if he did what she said, she would stop being so angry. For some reason, her anger only got worse.
• Sally says yes whenever possible. She agreed to be available for her boss 24-7 — his calls and demands continually increase. She helps her sister out by watching her children whenever she asks — it seems as if the more she says yes, the more her sister asks.
• Tammy cringes when her husband snaps at her. When he rages, Tammy gets quiet and does whatever he asks. His raging and harshness are the worst they have ever been.
Too often people take a passive position in response to poor treatment. Many people think that if they lay low, do what the person says or simply try to not get the person angrier, things will get better. This could not be further from the truth. Other than domestic violence situations (physical violence in a relationship), our silence in response to poor treatment often incites more poor treatment.
I realize this is counter-intuitive, however when you silence in response to poor treatment, you send the message that the poor treatment is okay. Inherent in your silence is acceptance. When people know they can treat you any way they’d like—they will do just that. In essence you are TEACHING them to do just that. Why should they treat you better? If you’re fine with it, why shouldn’t they be?
Every time you say nothing in response to disrespect, harsh treatment or rage, you teach the other person that rage, disrespect and harsh treatment are okay. Every time you purchase alcohol for your alcoholic loved one, you send the message that their drinking is okay with you. When you say nothing in response to your partner’s lies, you teach them it’s okay to lie to you.
What are your actions or lack of actions teaching the people in your life? Are you inadvertently teaching your loved ones to treat you poorly? If so, wake up; get stronger and stop accepting poor treatment. If you don’t stop it, it will increase. You need to teach people how to treat you. The best way to teach them is through your actions, not just your words.
If you don’t like someone’s treatment, step up and say so. Set limits, stop accepting and start acting as though you deserve to be treated well by all people, at all times. If you don’t know this, the people in your life certainly won’t.
Challenge: Take some time to think about how people in your life are treating you. If anyone is treating you poorly, pay attention to what message you’re giving them about that behavior—with your words AND your actions. Commit to teaching people how to treat you…by not accepting poor treatment.