Tony Gaskins once said, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” I used to be bothered by this quote because I always thought you shouldn’t have to teach people to respect you and be kind to you. I believed everyone should already know common courtesy and should already know how to treat you right. But then I realized everyone has a different definition of kindness, respect, and common courtesy. So now I know my level of kindness and respect towards myself must be taught to others.
I’ve spent over 20 years in the field of behaviorism and I know all about positive reinforcement, behavioral trends, and reinforcing replacement behaviors. The thing is along the way in my personal life I forgot to reinforce others on how to treat me right. I’m just now realizing that I have the power to reinforce how I want to be treated. It all starts and ends with me.
When you feel disrespected you have to stop and review how you’ve allowed others to treat you. Ask yourself, what did you reinforce? Did you encourage (allow) them to treat you a certain way? Examine your own behavior trends. What have you allowed? This will tell you why people treat you the way they do. It’s simply because you allowed it.
Do yourself a favor and today start reinforcing others on how you want to be treated. If they treat you with a level of respect and kindness that you like then thank them and let them know you appreciate this. However, if they are disrespecting you or are not treating you with a level of kindness you know you deserve then simply tell them this so they can learn how you want to be treated. If they still don’t learn and change from their mistakes then it’s time to move on. Not everyone is ready for the lesson you are giving them and you shouldn’t have to be the opportunity for others to eventually get it right at your own expense. Your time is precious just as much as everyone’s else is.
Know your worth and train others how to treat you. It all starts and ends with you.