We teach people how to treat us

by Paul Goodchild on April 13, 2011

My nature is passive. I dislike aggression, antagonism, and confrontation.  Some people thrive off of it. Fighting is part of who they are – they take no shit.  When they’re pushed, they fight back.  There is no “corner”, they just fight.

I prefer to keep the peace, rather than arouse someone’s ire. There are limits of course, certain lines that when crossed, I must fight.  But I’m not any different to anyone else -we all have our values that determine whether something is either acceptable, tolerable, or intolerable.

I haven’t been forced into an unacceptable position for a long time, but yesterday put me there and now I must fight.

Knowing when to fight is half the battle

I’m a sucker for peace.  If I can take a small hit to maintain a peaceful living environment, I’ll do it.  I chalk it up to balance – by giving way on a certain point here and there, I keep my life and my mind at peace.

Pick your battles.  Or they’ll pick you.

Unfortunately this mistakenly teaches people they can get away with whatever they want so when the push back comes, the resulting fight is much harder and harsher on everyone involved.

Money makes people stupid

I’ve worked hard to be able to quickly release frustrations to keep my mind clearer and calmer.  Sure, I get annoyed and sometimes my temper gets the better of me, but this is much less often.

In light of this, my ability to resist peoples’ bullshit has atrophied. I get away with this because I limit whose company I keep – my bullshit-o-meter is very finely tuned. But as I wrote when I started travelling again, I am trying to be more open about this.

This allowed me to walk naively into a housing agreement without taking basic precautions. I didn’t properly understand the situation beforehand didn’t put any written agreements in place .


To all who read this: verbal agreements are worth the same as your flatulence – they have no financial bearing on your life whatsoever.

Money makes people stupid – they lose medium-long term perspective.  My landlady is worried about the money she can get from me today, not that I might feel comfortable enough to stay longer and secure the rent for 3 months instead of 1.

Consider this example: I can give you £10 today, or you can wait 6 months and I’ll give you £100.  While the situations where this choice is made are not normally laid out quite so plainly, many will chose the £10.

Lessons to (re)learned about human nature

Give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile.

There’s more than 1 nugget of truth in that.

When you give way on a finer point in a relationship that is not the end.  You can now assume that that person now understands when they push, you pull – i.e. you wont offer resistance.

You teach people how to treat you.

Dr. Phil.

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve quoted this to friends when they needed to hear it… but advice is easily prescribed.

I taught my landlady that she can change the rules of the tenancy and I’ll acquiesce.  She just went too far eventually, and here I am writing about lessons learned, in a McDonalds with free WiFi because there’s is no longer internet access at home.

We teach people how to treat us. This is true for every relationship we have. By giving way on small points, people learn where our limits are and will push against those limits.

Then we must fight if we don’t like where our limits have been set.

What do you think?

Is it better to fight back from the beginning?  What have you lost or gained from resisting sooner, or not resisting at all?  Can all things be worked out “peacefully”, or is a certain amount of resistance necessary?  Please fee  l free to leave your comments below.  Thanks!

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