10 Mistakes That Make People Use You
How to Determine Why Someone Is Treating You Poorly
Do you find yourself wondering, “Why are they treating me this way?” If someone (a stranger, a friend, or a family member) is treating you poorly, you probably want to know why. Figure out what’s going on by watching their behavior and getting advice from others. Then, have an open conversation with the person to see why they’re treating you poorly. Finally, learn healthy ways of setting boundaries with people who mistreat you.
Assessing their Behavior
Write down what makes their behavior upsetting.In order to figure out what’s at the bottom of someone’s poor treatment towards you, you need to be able to clearly define what’s happening. Reflect on the way they treat you. What about their behavior makes you uncomfortable? Try to pinpoint clear and specific details about their behavior.
- Write down what details you notice about their behavior. For example, perhaps whenever you speak to them, they ignore you. Write out exactly what happens.
Put yourself into the other person's shoes.Think about possible reasons for their behavior. You can’t read minds, of course, but you may be able to pretend the same thing happened to you and then identify a stimulus that led them to act this way.
- For instance, maybe they got bad news at school and when you went to talk to them, they pushed you away. The bad news probably caused them to act that way, which means it may not have been about you at all.
- Another example may involve you leaving a friend out of a game unintentionally. Because they were left out, they may act upset and lash out at you. Recognizing what you did wrong and apologizing may resolve the problem.
- Don't lose your own perspective when doing this. Even if you understand their motivations, you don't have to forgive or agree with them if you are hurt by their actions.
Observe how they treat others.To gain more insight about their behavior, check out how they interact with others. Look for evidence that matches or contradicts how they treat you. If their behavior towards others is the same as how they treat you, then it’s probably not about you. If their behavior is different towards you than for others, it may be personal.
Get someone else’s opinion.You might be more or less sensitive to mistreatment from others, so it helps to get a second or third opinion. Reach out to someone else who knows this person and see what they think.
- You might ask, “Hey, I’ve noticed that Regina seems really mean lately. Have you noticed that?”
Decide if you want to let it go.Using the information that you collect from your observations and the opinions of others, figure out what you want to do next. If you think the person is acting this way due to something happening in their life, it may be best to ignore the behavior and hope things get better soon.
- However, if you can’t find a clear reason or if you suspect they are specifically directing their behavior towards you, you might choose to confront them about it.
- You may need to determine if the person is important enough to you that you are willing to let the issue slide.
Having a Conversation
Pull the person aside for a private conversation.If you make the decision to approach the person and have a conversation, do it privately. It may only make matters worse and prevent you from having a productive conversation if others are around.
- You might say, “Hey, Bob, can I steal you away to talk for a moment?”
Describe the behavior you have been seeing and how it makes you feel.Now that you’re face to face with the person, communicate what you have noticed about their behaviors. Then, describe how their behavior makes you feel.
- State what you have clearly seen, like “I’ve noticed each time I greet you this week, you haven’t said anything back.”
- Then, let them know how it affected you by adding something like, “Being ignored really hurt my feelings.”
Ask for an explanation.Once you’ve described the person’s behavior towards you, you might ask the person to explain why they have been acting that way.
- You might ask by saying something like, “Can you explain why you’ve been treating me this way?”
- Note that they may deny the behavior or refuse to explain. Some may even try to blame you for their actions.
State your boundaries.You can’t really control how others treat you, but you can make sure they know how you expect to be treated. You can do that by establishing healthy boundaries. If someone treated you poorly, you can easily identify which boundary has been crossed. Now, you just have to let them know not to do it again.
- For instance, using the above example, you might say, “If you keep ignoring my greetings, I will stop saying hello.”
- Another example might involve reacting to someone who insulted you. Your boundary might sound like, “Please do not call me that name anymore. If you do, I will tell the teacher.”
Getting the Treatment You Deserve
Refuse to accept mistreatment.Don’t feel guilty when you speak out against mistreatment and verbalize your boundaries. You deserve to be treated with respect, and only you can make sure that happens. Whenever someone treats you poorly in the future, have a conversation with them and explain how you expect to be treated instead.
Get distance from the person.If someone continues to mistreat you, stop hanging around the person or end the relationship completely. This sends the message that you view their behavior as unacceptable and that you don’t have to tolerate it.
- If they ask why you have withdrawn, simply say, “I did that to protect myself because you were not treating me how I expect to be treated.”
Show people how you expect to be treated.How you treat yourself sends a message about how you want others to treat you. Teach your acquaintances, friends, and relatives how they should treat you by setting standards for yourself.
- For example, you shouldn’t belittle or speak negatively about yourself to others. Walk and act with confidence, with your chin up and shoulders pulled back.
- You can also show people how to treat you by clearly asking for what you need (“I really need someone to talk to.”) and by reinforcing when someone is treating you appropriately (“Thank you so much for respecting my privacy.”).
Treat others with respect.Model how you expect to be treated by treating others with proper consideration and kindness. Use kind, uplifting words when discussing others rather than being demeaning or gossiping. Show respect for others and they will respect you in kind.
QuestionWhat should I do if my "close" friends start treating me badly when they learn that I am poor?
Clinical Social WorkerClinical Social WorkerExpert AnswerSometimes people are only shallow friends. If people only hang around you for who they think you might have, they are not really true friends. While it is nice to hope that we will always be accepted, in reality it is not always like that. If you know them really well and have some trust in them, you can tell them directly how you feel. Otherwise, try to branch out and meet other people.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if someone is being fake nice to me but avoid me when they see me?
Clinical Social WorkerClinical Social WorkerExpert AnswerYou can begin by writing down what you have noticed. Then if you feel the person is worth the effort, you could try bringing it up with them when you are alone and away from the larger group.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I tell if someone is being mean to me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThey make fun of you, hurt you (emotionally or physically), refuse to talk with you, or try to get in fights/arguments with you frequently.Thanks!
QuestionIf you tell someone you don't like the way they are treating you or talking to you, doesn't that just show them they have power and affect you?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou're not giving them power over you because you still have the power to leave the relationship. By informing them that they're doing something that's hurting you, you're giving them a chance to change before you stop talking to them or avoid them for your own mental and emotional health.Thanks!
QuestionMy live-in boyfriend of 4 years won't help pay bills or buy groceries. He has a job, but he hoards money for himself. Why?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHe does this because he's selfish, he's using you for free room and board, and you've let him get away with it. Tell him that if he wants to continue living together, he's going to have to start pulling his own weight and paying half of all bills and expenses. If he says no, evict him, or move out yourself.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if the person who's treating me poorly is my teacher?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should talk to another teacher, your guidance counselor, the principal, or another trusted adult about this.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if it is a siblingwikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf it's a sibling, a lot of the same help applies! If nothing is working, try asking a parent or adult to step in and help facilitate the conversationThanks!
QuestionIf someone is physically hurting me, how do I determine the reason?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerKeeping yourself safe is far more important than determining a reason, a reason which probably resides in that other person's inability to self manage anger, fear and a need to control through violence. Do not ever blame yourself, you are not the reason but a convenient proxy for that person's weakness. Get help and get out of that person's way for good, so that you can remain safe and not ever be physically hurt again. The reason for that person's physical mistreatment of you is for the courts and psychologists to fathom.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is mean behaviour?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt can mean a variety of things, but the most common definition is the behavior is being disrespectful or unkind, failing to respect the dignity and worth of the other person.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if they follow me around and make me wait for them when I don't want to?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou have both the ability to ignore someone and free will. If someone is treating you poorly, you have every right to ignore them. Perhaps they'll realize you're worth treating better. If they're forcing you to wait for them, just don't. If you don't want to be around them, don't be around them. Arrange things so that you can get back to wherever you need to be without this person's help and you're no longer stuck.Thanks!
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