never reward bad behavior or you will teach people to treat you badly to get what they wantOne of the top complaints expressed in counseling is the way others talk to them. Obviously, some people talk mean because they are mean. This is resolved by establishing and maintaining absolute boundaries. However, what few people are willing to see is they, in fact, teach others how to treat them. This can go into two extremes:

First, there is the one who will not respond to reasonable requests. Like the husband who is politely asked to take out the garage on Monday. He procrastinates. On Tue, the request gets a little stronger, with a hint of sarcasm. On Wed it becomes more of a demand. By Friday, the wife has to throw a fit to get the desired response. He is teaching her that she only gets a response when she has a fit of rage. Then he complains about the way she talks to him!

Then, there is the compromiser who says no, but the child/husband/friend persists to beg, cry or throw a fit. Finally, out of exhaustion he/she caves in. Now we have trained the persistent that they can always get what they want if they will simply wear us down.

Either of these extremes sends a clear message: in order to get what you want apply pressure, talk mean or make me feel guilty. In other words, we teach people how to treat us.

What’s the solution? The procrastinator needs to be thoughtful kind and supportive. Quit being lazy and people will not have to throw fits to get you to respond to a reasonable request. Apologize to those you have provoked, and let them know you intend to treat them kinder.

The compromiser needs to inform others that you will not respond to pressure, and then stick to your guns. The key is this: only reward good behavior; never reward bad behavior or you will teach people to treat you badly to get what they want.
Let your responses teach people that kind, calm requests are the only thing to which they will get a positive response.

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