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For Better or Worse we Train Others How to Treat Us!

Nadia Prescott

In the 24/7 world of social media and the internet where our smart phones constantly ping, we are trained to be like Pavlov’s dogs. As a result, there are many articles written about ways to remove yourself from the “connected” world and reconnect to life and build better relationships at home and work.

But at the end of the day, beneath all these helpful hints, there is you. You and your commitment to make change. Commitment is very different to being compliant with other people’s ideas. There are many great ideas out there, so there must be a deeper reason why more people fail than succeed. Starting with changing a behavior with a new idea you read about in a book, without knowing the deeper reason for the new habits in
my humble opinion is not an effective way to create change. Without a goal, you can never fail, which is why subconsciously many of us do not create goals. Without goals you can also never succeed. How do you want people to treat you at home or at work? The bigger question might be what type of relationships do you want to create in life? With your work colleagues, your family and friends and your relationship with your smart device.

If you don’t make changes, nothing around you will change either in your life, or in the way others treat you. Especially today in our super connected world with the expectation of immediate response. How you respond, dictates how others will both view and treat you. Immediately and over the longer term.

When I first moved to the US in 1996, I was working as VP of Marketing in Silicon Valley. It was an exhausting 24/7 job, characterized by high-energy, high-power, and high expectations. I was known as the person who always got things done. I wore that badge of honor with pride, even though that meant responding to emails at 3 AM. The more I responded, the more work came my way. By 2002, I was out on disability with a repetitive strain injury. I was angry, conflicted and scared. More importantly, I placed all the blame on the company for demanding too much work and being poorly organized.

Unfortunately, I had failed to identify and understand my role in creating the situation. In my zeal to impress, I had successfully trained everyone that I was available at their disposal at all hours of the day and night. The word ‘boundaries’ did not exist in my vocabulary. I finally recognized that I was at least 50% responsible for creating this situation. And as for what did I really want in a career, and in my personal life, I had never even looked at the full picture. I was operating reactively, never taking the time for myself and my aspirations. How much time do you take to think about what you want to proactively create in your life, your vision and goals for the future? I’m guessing not much.

When you complain about other people or your own situation, the first question to ask yourself is “what is your role in creating this?” We often don’t realize how much we contribute to building our reputations in the workplace and how our closest relationships are impacted by our lack of deep commitment in favor of responding to immediate requests. At a much deeper level, this says a lot about our commitment to our nearest and dearest. What is it, that you are truly committed to creating – and changing in your life?

Take time to reflect on the messages you send to your work colleagues, friends and family by virtue of your behavior. You are responsible for creating the impression you want people to have of you. More importantly, try to understand what motivation you have for projecting the image you are creating for yourself. And why.

I needed the guidance of an executive coach to help me determine at the highest level, what my goals were, what I wanted my life to look like. In other words, what was I committed to first, rather than a set of resolutions or behaviors without context. Through this work I could then establish appropriate boundaries. Every time a situation arose that challenged my thinking, I could ask myself a very simple question. Will this give me short term satisfaction or long-term fulfilment. I now know how to say no, but I often still must check in with myself on daily habits to make sure I am doing what is best for me.

It’s a never-ending journey, but as a result, my relationships both at work and on a personal level are much healthier.

If you would like to learn more about how to train those around you or how to set good boundaries, contact us at nadia@emergingexecutive.com.

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