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Stephen Covey's Interdependence Diagram

Talking About... Teaching People How to Treat You

OCTOBER 20, 2022 - Teaching people how to treat you is fundamental to learning to be the best you can be in any situation. People are happiest when they don't need others to define them. And interacting with people - specifically building relationships of any kind - relies on two people treating each other with a certain level of respect. 
Some people do not know that they can stand up for themselves without much conflict. Those who seek to avoid all conflict generally allow others to "walk all over them" and that is not the best way to live. "Getting what you want while helping others get what they want too" is a better way to think of how healthy relationships work. 
We could go back to Stephen Covey's definition of interdependence as a way to judge what a good relationship is as well: "Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success."  
In our discussions, we determined that there are a few ways to look at Teaching People How To Treat You:
  • You must be confident in who you are.
  • You must know your worth.
  • You must know your weaknesses and triggers.
  • You must know the context of your behaviors.
Everyone makes assumptions about the people they meet in the first 7 seconds of meeting them. That is human nature. Still, it is what we do next that gives us insight into the person across from us. Do we just trust our assumptions and act accordingly? Or do we expect to dig more deeply into who that other person really is?
Learning to take an active interest in other people changes the way you are able to connect. However, it's hard to be interested in other people and carry on good conversations if you don't feel confident that you know who you are. That's natural because you know the conversation will ultimately come back around to you, and if you don't think you have something to contribute, you will not feel confident enough to build any relationship.
I once met someone who said, "I can hold any audience in the palm of my hand." At the time, I thought that was a bold statement. However, I've come to realize that his confidence in himself was due to experience. It was his experience of growing up and being the center of attention in his classes as much as possible that developed his socially extroverted reality. His reality probably was learned at home, and then honed in school, and further honed in college or in personal learning to the point that he was now a "naturally authentic" public speaker. The experiences he put himself into, or found himself in, taught him to try and fail and learn to be a great speaker. He told great stories, he used humor to deflect negativity, and he knew how to play on people's emotions. As a speaker, he knew his worth. 
Nebechier "Neb" Jones discussed his desire to learn Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to help him be a better leader. He stated that he had a tough childhood in a neighborhood that resolved conflict in ways that are not conducive to work or a professional environment. He asked for ways to begin to teach himself how to identify his weaknesses and triggers and resolve conflicts before they really begin. Neb's idea is that NLP can help that tremendously. Stephan Stavrakis offered some beginning learning points (Authors: Chris Voss, Tad James, and John Levell came immediately to mind). However, the discussion revealed that recognizing your emotional responses and learning to turn a moment of challenge into a moment of clarification could hold great power. Asking someone, "Did you just threaten me?" with a smile and true inquisitiveness would bring about one of three responses most likely. One, they confirm that they ARE threatening you and maybe escalate the situation. Two, they back peddle and state why they were NOT threatening you. Or Three, they say they are not, but in a way that clearly shows that they were, but now they're backing down. In all three cases, you've taken control of that narrative. You exposed the TRUTH and got rid of assumptions and all the awkwardness and tension that guessing or ignoring the truth usually brings. Knowing your weaknesses and triggers allows you to take control of yourself and the situation.
Finally, the context of your behaviors must always be considered. Your "normal" is not everyone else's normal. Your experiences create narratives that change the way you see the world and how you operate within it. Stephan Stavrakis suggested creating a "pre-frame" whenever possible that allows people to know what you want out of them. If you're calling someone and you ask, "Do you have 10 minutes right now to discuss something?", then you're creating a pre-frame that tells them you need to speak with them urgently, but you won't take up more than 10 minutes right now. The pre-frame acts as a little "contract" that tells people how you're about to behave. In a larger sense, being consistent and committed to your own standards also pre-frames your interactions with everyone. Standing up for yourself and others on things that matter to you teaches people how you may respond most regularly to all kinds of situations. For example, if we are not prone to gossip, people will expect some privacy afforded to them when speaking with us; while if you ARE prone to gossip, they will not tell you certain things because they know you'll tell the world. 
It's great to think about these kinds of things and get your mind around the importance of Teaching People How to Treat You. It truly reduces conflict and encourages deeper, more truthful, and more meaningful relationships. 


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