We’re continually training people how to treat us through our response to their behavior. And if we don’t like what we’re receiving, it’s sometimes easier to blame others for what they’re doing rather than unravel how we’ve trained them. With conscious, deliberate attention though, we can use this tool to our advantage, so that everyone wins!
We’re training people all the time as we interact with them. When we show people that a certain word or action from them will get a consistent reaction from us, we’re training them to repeat that behavior whenever they want that reaction. We’re saying, “If you want me to act this particular way, just activate this trigger.”
For instance, if we give our partner a hug every time he or she says, “I love you,” if the hug is what our partner wants, he or she will keep saying, “I love you.” If we choose to keep this pattern going because it’s supportive and enjoyable, we’re creating a path to the treatment we want. And since it draws best behaviors from everyone, it’s win-win!
On the other hand, if we get angry every time our partner comes home late and our anger was the goal, our partner will likely keep coming home late. In that case, we’ve shown our partner where our buttons are, how they’re activated, and what our auto-response will be. And then it’s not reasonable to blame our partner for pressing, “Push Here.” Instead, the answer is to stop delivering the predictable response.
If we want people to act differently toward us, we’ll need to act differently ourselves. And choosing to stop being triggered will deactivate our buttons and give us back our power.
Three steps for getting people to treat us the way we want.
Step one is to stop protesting. If we want to let people know that their behavior is unacceptable to us, it doesn’t work to say: “You can’t treat me like this anymore!” If we want people to act differently, it doesn’t begin with training them. It begins with retraining ourselves.
Step two is to not be available for treatment we don’t like. People will get the message and stop doing it, because people don’t do what doesn’t work. Refusing to be available doesn’t necessarily mean walking away from people or situations. It means not providing the expected response. A predictable response teaches people to treat us in a predictable way, while a new response trains new action in us as well as in others.
Step three is to consistently acknowledge best behaviors because that’s how we coach people, in a cooperative and constructive way, to give us the treatment we want. Whatever qualities in people we vibe with are the qualities that will return to us, in response. So we need to vibe with the qualities of caring and cooperation. That means behaving in a way that will get us what we want – by being what we want.
We’re training people all the time. The people who treat us well, as well as the ones who treat us badly, are doing it because we’ve taught them how. And the key is to get clear inside ourselves how we want to be treated, and then to take action on purpose. We get what we want by being an example of it – by creating the internal change that we want to see externally.
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