Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Train others how to treat you

Stress for Success

August 19, 2014 

“I train people how to treat me.”  Source unknown.

This quote absolutely changed my life decades ago. It taught me to stop fussing and stewing over what others were doing that was upsetting to me and take a close look at what I may have been doing to encourage their behavior. Don’t get me wrong, this quote isn’t saying you are responsible for others’ behaviors, it’s simply saying that we are all partly responsible for all outcomes with all people because of our own behaviors.

For example, a coworker aggressively walks all over you and you passively allow it. What are you training that person to do?  To walk all over you.  Instead of blaming your stress on that person, consider what you are doing to teach that person that it’s OK to treat you that way.

Here’s an example of a work team of five people and how four of them taught the fifth person how to treat them differently.  Four of the team members were constantly frustrated with the fifth person who was a hothead and exploded regularly leading the four others to give the hothead whatever she wanted at the moment of her outburst.  In other words, they were teaching her to blow up to get her way! 

After each episode, the four would gather and grumble about how disruptive she was.  The team members’ blaming the hothead and complaining about her kept them from examining their own role, thus responsibility, in the interaction.  Excessive blaming and complaining discourage taking responsibility for your own choice of reactions. 

These four team members ultimately decided to do something totally different in response to the hothead.  They agreed the next time this happened, one of them would speak privately afterward to her to warn her that the next time she lost her temper all the others were going to end the meeting with her, leave the room and finish the meeting elsewhere without her.  Sure enough, another day and another blowup occurred.  All four walked out together and finished the meeting without the hothead.  This only happened a couple of more times before the hothead learned to control her temper with her teammates.

In your interpersonal stress, are you training others to treat you in an unacceptable manner?  To get a better handle on your responsibility, follow these steps.

· First, identify your desired outcome.  In this example the four team members said their goal was for the hothead to quit yelling.  But this goal is beyond their control because it requires the hothead to change.  She is beyond their control.  They re-worded their goal to make its accomplishment within their control:  to conduct their meetings without caving into pressure and to think clearly to make necessary decisions. 

· Identify options:  to avoid caving into her pressure and to create an atmosphere where they could think clearly to make decisions, they could:
ü  Keep the meeting going ignoring the hothead
ü  Get up and leave to conduct the meeting elsewhere
ü  Talk to the hothead and ask her to stop (which they had done on numerous occasions)
ü  Take the problem to their mutual boss
ü  Etc.

· Choose an option(s) that will best lead you to your goal.

This sounds so simple and of course it often isn’t.  The key is to assess what you are contributing to the stressful outcome and change your behavior in a way that leads you toward your goal.  This teaches others to treat you as you want to be treated and puts stress reduction more within your reach since your reactions are within your control.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S. is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach.  Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at http://www.letyourbodywin.com/bookstore.html.  Email her to request she speak to your organization at jferg8@aol.com