The Critical Thing You Must Do to Win Peoples’ Respect

When people cross your personal boundaries or treat you in ways you consider unacceptable, how do you usually react or deal with the situation?

Do you object to people crossing a line with you by calling their behavior out — or do you just shrug it off and accept the unwanted or undesirable behavior without protest?

Furthermore, are you consciously aware of what behaviors you’re unwilling to accept from other people ... you know, the ways in which people treat you that you find inappropriate or unacceptable?

A great exercise to do is write out a list of the ways people have behaved towards you in the past that you found were things you weren’t willing to tolerate in the future. Coming up with a list will help you instantly start identifying undesirable behavior from others as it happens, rather than looking back in retrospect and realizing that it was not cool, perhaps long after the moment has passed, when it’s too late to communicate to the other person that their behavior was unacceptable.

After all, when people cross a line with us, and if you want to earn their respect, you have to communicate to that person immediately that it was unacceptable behavior. If you don’t, either they won’t be made aware that their behavior affected you negatively and they’ll remain completely oblivious that they crossed a line with you, or, if they knew it was inappropriate, they’ll conclude that you’re just a push-over who can’t stand up for themselves.

Here’s the thing...

We teach other people how to treat us. And we do that by either communicating our boundaries when they’re crossed, or by failing to do so. Both work to determine what kind of behaviors we’ll be subjected to in the future.

If we fail to communicate our boundaries by making the other person aware that what they did was uncool, they will continue to treat us that way. But if we immediately enforce our boundaries when they’re crossed, this will send a strong message to the other person that what they did was unacceptable. And if that message registers with them, it will go a long way in preventing the person from treating you that way again in the future.

There can be some fear that arises in communicating our boundaries, like being afraid that the other person will get upset or disapprove of us, and even start a disagreement or argument. But remember that they’re the one drawing “first blood,” and if they react negatively to being called out on their bad behavior, they have real issues.

They’re the problem, not you.

So if you have this fear, learn to overcome it. And like all fear, the only way to master it is to confront it head on by taking action ... by starting to communicate your boundaries when they’re crossed. Start making an issue when people treat you in ways you find unacceptable. Who cares what they may think or how they may react. Dealing with these reactions is just a part of learning how to communicate your boundaries and stand by them.

Furthermore, people tend to respect people who communicate their boundaries. When you call people out for crossing a line with you, a part of their brain says, “Hey, I crossed a line with this person. But I want them to like and approve of me, so I better not do that again.”

If you find people often walk over you, there’s a reason for that. You’re failing to communicate your boundaries to them, and the solution to that is to start making an issue of it every time someone crosses one of your boundaries. If you make it a lifestyle, people will become accustomed to you communicating your boundaries. They’ll come to expect it from you, so it will seem normal to them.

And they’ll actually appreciate it.

Especially when starting a new relationship with someone, one of the best things you can do for the health of the relationship is to set a boundary as early as possible. When someone perceives you as a new person in their life, they still don’t know what to expect from you. They’re still getting a feel for the way you communicate, and what you’re willing to accept. If you can set a boundary early on, it quickly communicates that you’re a person who demands respect from others and that you have the courage to communicate those boundaries when they’re crossed.

Being a “boundary communicator” – that is, someone who always makes an issue every time one of your boundaries is crossed – will cause people to view you as a person who has expectations for how they like to be treated. And that’s a very commendable thing, because it can take courage. Always communicating your boundaries to others will win the respect of the people you encounter in life.

Because the truth is, even though it can cause us some embarrassment or awkwardness when someone calls out our bad behavior, we like to know where we stand with others. And if people communicate their boundaries to us, it clues us in to exactly where we stand.

We as people tend to respect that.

So if you want to earn people’s respect, make sure you know where your boundaries are, and then start making an issue of it whenever people cross them.




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