You teach people how to treat you.
I’m not sure who said it first—Dr. Phil, Oprah, or Tony Gaskins in this fleshed out version:
“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”
In my own experience, I have sometimes allowed unacceptable behavior by others for a few reasons. One is, I am being, what I consider, “grace-giving,” I will teach by example. If I fail to reinforce a boundary, for example, I might think, well, just this once and then next time will be different. They will see it themselves and course correct. You know, if they see how kind and forgiving I am. I’ve applied the Dale Carnegie philosophy maybe a little too much—the one that says you cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself. Being direct? Bad. Subtle approach? Good.
I’m realizing that the subtle approach is often no approach.
There’s a passage in the Bible about letting your yes be yes and your no be no. Sometimes you’ve just got to delineate.
I do a stair workout in Laguna Beach. At the bottom, the waves are crashing on the sand. I just do the staircase straight-up-normal. Nothing fancy, nothing show-offy, just up and down with my feetsies twenty times. Twenty times up, twenty times down. During my workouts, I’ve seen other road warriors use their imagination to kick things up a notch by adding elements that make the staircase more challenging—hopping up, running, climbing the rail, skipping a step, carrying someone on their back, hefting sandbags, weighted belts around their waist—truly crazy stuff. One time I saw a guy with literal iron chains around his neck. Up and down, clank clank clank.
Warren Buffett said, “the chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
Sometimes there’s a cacophonous clank that we just don’t hear, a clank we don’t even know is blocking the sound of our ocean.