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Want respect? Ask for it

In his book Life Strategies, Dr. Phil McGraw suggests that we teach people how to treat us.  In every interaction, we play a role in how the other person behaves because we choose to either accept or reject their behavior.  If we accept bad behavior and don’t communicate how we feel about it, then we can’t expect positive results—and it’s partly our own fault.

I was recently coaching a lawyer who was stressed out because she felt completely unsupported by her boss.  Projects were dumped on her desk and she was given responsibilities far more demanding than she thought she could handle.  She felt that she was sinking fast under a weight of impossible expectation; and her boss was never around or available to help.  As we talked through her issues I learned that this was not the first time that she had endured this problem, and that in fact, she had felt unsupported by most of her bosses.  In fact, to me this was beginning to look more like a lack of communication from my lawyer friend than a fault on the part of her boss.  (Which is not to say that her boss shouldn’t have been more supportive, but that my friend clearly needed to be more assertive about her needs.)

Fortunately, she figured this out and began proactively communicating with her boss.  And guess what?  That “horrible, difficult” boss turned into a generous and supportive one!  The moral is obvious:  ask and you just might receive.

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