4 Ways to Teach People How to Treat You

Oprah once said, “You teach people how to treat you.”

When I first heard this, deep in a time of depression, I totally disagreed.

Now, after a few years of therapy, and a few more of hard work and personal growth, I totally agree.

I actually am not going to get into the why behind that today, but I do want to share with you a few ways you can put this into practice. It is empowering to feel that you have some control over what you are willing to receive from others, which shapes what they give you next time.

NOTE: Of course, we cannot control how others treat us. Some people will treat others horribly because of their own demons or the demons of society. The way you are being treated does not mean you are doing something wrong. Rather, take these as something to think on, as a way to influence your surroundings because you do have influence.

These are 4 tips to help influence the way others speak to you and treat you.

Explore patterns

It is important to explore patterns that are occurring throughout your life story. This exploration provides insight into your own beliefs about yourself. If you can explore your story with a therapist, it can be incredibly helpful in pointing out lies you believe about yourself that may influence your surroundings. When we face those lies, and learn to unwind and replace those with truth - that is when we start to understand how we should be treated. Having a personal understanding of how you should to be treated - that is foundational.

Believe it

What you believe about yourself can lead the way for what others believe about you. Understanding and believing how you should be treated, your worth and value as a human being, will as a result be picked up by others. If you have high standards for the way you’re treated, it is more likely that people will recognize them.

Keep consistent boundaries

When I was a child, my parents installed an invisible fence for our dog. If you are unfamiliar, this is electric fence that is attached to a shock collar. If the dog meets the boundary, a little shock tells them where the boundary is. With these fences, dogs quickly learn the exact boundaries of the yard (I know this may make dog lovers sad, this is not a comment on the ethics of it - just an example). In a similar way, if you are consistent in how you allow yourself to be treated, people will learn their boundaries with you. Likewise, people will pick up on how you interact with others nearby. Keeping consistent boundaries on how you allow yourself to be treated offers easy “cross-training” if you will, for all the people in your life.

Practice what you preach

Along with being consistent with what you are willing to receive, others will pick up on how you treat people. It is the golden rule, of course! But in this instance, it is not only a good practice, but a way of teaching others about you.


Like an invisible fence, people pick up on how you believe you should be treated, what you are willing to receive from others, and how you treat others. Much of it may be subconscious, but the way we carry ourselves can teach other how to treat us without them ever realizing it.

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