I remember hearing that advice for the first time. Or at least it was the first time I actually paid attention and really ‘heard’ it if you know what I mean.
You Teach People How to Treat You
It was kind of confusing. I mean, was I supposed to just TELL everyone all the time exactly how I wanted to be treated? That seemed like a lot.
But it actually is like that. However, there are other ways we do this too that you may not be as aware of. In fact, it can be a bit of a surprise how often we actually ARE teaching others who we are and, inadvertently, how we want to be treated.
So while we absolutely do teach people our boundaries and tolerances by what we say, we also teach them by what we do and who we show up as.
Let me explain what I mean.
I have a friend, a really good guy overall, but he this a habit of interrupting a phone call and promising to call you right back, but then he doesn’t.
He did this recently and I said it’s fine, I have learned not to count on that return call. He was hurt for a moment I think because I implied that I couldn’t count on HIM.
However, what has he been teaching me about who he is?
Exactly. That counting on him is not a sure bet. Or at least that his return call only ends up in frustration so I changed MY expectation. He taught me how HE works.
How I responded taught him about how I work. I stopped waiting for his calls.
There are a lot of little lessons and learning going on here. I learned that ONE bad habit (not returning a call) does not make a whole person I can’t count on. And he learned that not following through lowers people’s trust in him.
Where it gets tricky is a lot of this centers around our own personal expectations and beliefs about who people are and how things should work.
For example, I have strong feelings around doing what I say I am going to do, so I try very hard not to make casual comments about things like calling people back. I feel obligated to do whatever I need to in order to make that happen (and will struggle with guilt if I can’t).
Whereas my friend sees it as a just that, a casual comment. Not an obligation or expectation and is genuinely surprised that I counted on that return call in the first place.
If I had that same expectation or rule in my own life manual then when he didn’t’ return my calls it wouldn’t have phased me one bit.
Luckily, we both have grown as people and realized that we can think of things in different ways without it having to be a personal issue without blowing up our friendship. But quite often this becomes a point of anger and frustration between people and each side is not really clear on why or even what’s really going on.
We show up differently to relationships and other events in life and we all have a different set of rules and expectations about life. The sooner we can approach each other with that in mind, the kinder this world will be.
My expectations guided my response. I’ll be really honest, there were times when I wasn’t as aware of this idea and I would have taken his lack of returning the call as a personal affront. Why did he forget about me? Did he just want to get off the phone and ignore me in the first place? And so on! Letting my ego and fears run that shit show!
And you know what? It has never served me or the other person well when I had unspoken expectations.
You see, life doesn’t come with a manual, instead, we write our own every day as we accept or refuse behavior from others, tolerate or don’t tolerate things, and when we experience and interpret different life events.
We write our life manual all the time in overt ways and even more so in very subtle ways. But the really fabulous news is we also get to re-write our manual anytime we choose to.
We can teach people new ways of interacting with us. We can begin to work from new paradigms of thought and learn to let go of our own personal expectations in order to really learn what others are offering us.
I can show you how. Been there, done that, and STILL doing it!
To start, why not join me for free Sunday Chats (and more!) in the private Facebook group?
So what do YOU teach people about yourself and how you want to be treated in the way you show up?