If you keep finding yourself unhappy with how people treat you and feel like you are constantly being taken for granted, used and even abused by people, the common denominator is you. We teach people how to treat us, and some of us are better at it than others. If people continue to treat you badly, it’s because you are allowing it.
Now I know you want to be a nice person and conflict may be hard for you. But unless you enjoy people taking advantage of you, you need to learn to stand up for yourself and have boundaries. What are boundaries? Boundaries are your own personal rules you have for yourself on how you will allow yourself to be treated. We respect people who respect themselves.
I highly recommend the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It’s an incredible book that will teach you how to deal with people who don’t treat you with respect – and help you to get rid of the toxic people who you need to let go of. If you don’t have boundaries – particularly with people that are toxic – then they will trample all over you.
Here are my top tips to teach people to treat you with respect:
1. Don’t tolerate bad behaviour
You teach people how to treat you, and if you are allowing people to treat you badly, it’s going to keep happening. My grandmother had a Rat Terrier/Chihuahua cross rescue dog, named Lily that was the most horribly behaved dog I have ever come across. She snarled, bit anyone who tried to touch her, chased cats and barked constantly. Walking her was like trying to walk a rabid gremlin.
My grandmother would lovingly pat and praise her whenever she misbehaved, saying all poor little Lily needed was love. When my grandmother died, I thought I was going to have to put Lily down, since she was such a nightmare. To my utter shock, my father volunteered to take her. My father has always had cats and seemed to dislike dogs as much as his former mother-in-law, the owner of Lily.
When I went to visit them a few days later after dropping the little monster off, I could not believe my eyes. Lily was now the most perfectly behaved dog I have ever come across. My father just winked at me and said, "It’s amazing what a rolled up piece of newspaper smacked on my hand and a loud 'No!' can do. I don’t tolerate bad behaviour, Caroline. You should know that. You just say no and wait for the tantrum to pass. Worked with you."
Fast forward 10 years later, and I’m on the phone with my mother trying to have a conversation which was proving impossible since her dogs were barking so loudly. My mother, like my grandmother, has terribly behaved dogs, who bark constantly and jump all over everyone. They are Japanese Spitz show dogs and she never wanted to instil fear in them so always talked to them in a soothing voice. I reminded her of how my father had trained her mother’s dog in days by smacking a newspaper against his hand with a loud 'no' and maybe she should try that. My mother was horrified and said: "That’s an awful idea and would never work. I have hired the best dog trainers in New Zealand they tell me it's just the breed and it’s going to take lots of training sessions."
The next day, I go to visit my mother and usually when I visit her, the dogs are a nightmare, jumping, barking and whining the whole time, even though they have bark collars on. This time, the dogs were calm, quiet and sat obediently when I came in. I was shocked and asked if she was now drugging them. She smiled and held up a rolled up piece of newspaper. "I only had to smack my hand once with it. Since then, I just hold it up and they shut up and obey." It took one day to train her dogs into being well behaved just by holding up a piece of newspaper.
You may be wondering why I’m telling you a story about training dogs, but b**ches are b**ches. And almost all of them can be trained, at the very least in how to treat you. Now I’m not saying you should threaten to hit animals or people. However, animals and people do what they know they can get away with. The dogs suddenly behaving once my mother held up the newspaper shows they didn’t see her as having any authority before. Once she showed them that she was the boss, they listened and showed her respect.
2. Learn to have BDE
BDE stands for big d*ck energy. BDE is the authentic confidence that comes from knowing you have a big d*ck swinging between your legs that you know how to use. The good thing is you don't even need to have a penis to exude BDE. Men and women can both have BDE, and it's all about the energy you project. It’s not arrogance or cockiness — on the contrary: it's a confident, comfortable in your own skin, you don't take any cr*p energy you radiate. In my mother's case, the newspaper gave her BDE.
3. Imagine you are someone who is assertive to become more confident in dealing with conflict yourself
This is one of my favourite techniques. Think of someone who has the confidence you desire. It can be someone you know. It can be someone famous you admire. Imagine stepping into their body and feeling how you would feel if you had their confidence. How would you walk, talk and hold yourself if you were that person? This gives your subconscious mind instructions on how to be confident. Visualising yourself as a confident assertive person helps to reprogram the subconscious into believing it.
Or you can make up an alter ego that has "don’t mess with me" confidence. Think about Ali G / Sacha Baron Cohen, Ziggy Stardust / David Bowie, Sasha Fierce / Beyonce, Superman / Clark Kent, Batman / Bruce Wayne, Slim Shady / Eminem. Now I’m not saying you need to start acting like an entirely different person, however, pretending as if you are someone else who’s assertive helps you to develop the energy of someone, people will think twice about crossing.
4. Call people out on their bad behaviour
A lot of the time, people will cross your boundaries because you are not telling them to stop. Telling people in an assertive voice that what they are doing is not okay is one of the most powerful things you can do.
Things you can say:
- Do not talk to me like that.
- Wow, are you having a bad day?
- Did you mean to be that rude?
- That was hurtful and not very nice. I’m going to walk away now.
- That’s not okay to talk to me like that, don’t do it again.
- I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening. Can you repeat that?
- Well, I think we’ve reached the end of this conversation.
- I don’t know what your problem is, but I’m guessing it’s hard to pronounce.
- Wait a minute. There must be something wrong with my ears. Did you just say…
- Hang, on. Can you say that again? I want to get my camera out so I can video it.
Know that the only person you can control is yourself. Getting really clear about what you will and won’t put up with, will help you to say no when people are treating you in a way you don't want them to. You can teach people to treat you with the respect you desire. And if they keep treating you badly, you can end the relationship. Saying no to people who aren't considerate, opens the door for people that will treat you with the respect you deserve.
Caroline Cranshaw is a hypnotherapist, founder and trainer at the New Zealand Integrative Hypnotherapy Training Institute and the author of The Smoking Cure. Find out more about her at nzhypnotherapy.co.nz. Listen to Caroline's new podcast WTF Stories & Advice.