When it comes to how other people treat us, there are a couple of things we know for sure. We know being mean or rude is likely to result in being treated that way in return. We also know that sometimes, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time can make you the victim of a bad mood that you had no role in starting.
But there's another trigger for poor treatment from others that most of us miss. It's a behavioral pattern that's insidious, destructive, and requires intention and self-reflection to conquer.
So, what are you doing wrong?
You probably have certain friends you’d never cancel plans on, but others you would, family members you feel comfortable being honest with and others you don’t, and friends you invite out more than others.
Think about what they've done to influence the way you treat them. You may be guilty of the same mistakes. Maybe you have a reputation for being too nice when people flake out on you at the last minute, or for getting defensive and argumentative when people approach you with something you said that unintentionally hurt them. Maybe you turn down social invitations more often than you accept.
Next time your co-workers leave you to do all the work on a group project, or your boss doesn’t trust you with an important task, consider how you may have contributed to their attitudes.
Once it becomes clear the rest of the team would rather procrastinate than get the work done, do you just keep your head down, do all the work, and not say anything? Do you come up with excuses for your boss about why you can’t complete a job rather than doing whatever it takes to impress him or her?
The idea that you're responsible for the way other people treat you can be a painful idea to reflect on. But, to grow, we have to look inward, and be willing share some of the onus.
How do you fix it?
If we play a major role in how others treat us, then we can recast those roles, alter our approach, and create opportunities for others to treat us how we want to be treated.
Let this knowledge empower you.
Start doing things that show others you're trustworthy. Make small gestures to show your loved ones you care about and value them. Use your voice to set boundaries and speak assertively when others seem to be taking advantage of you or treating you disrespectfully.
It won’t always be easy, and you won't succeed every time. But feeling secure in ourselves and our relationships is certainly worth the effort.