You teach people how to treat you! Yes, you do, even that person who is mean or rude!
There are two types of boundaries that you need to set early on in both your personal and professional lives.
First, you teach people how to treat you by making clear the type of treatment that you will accept. When you tolerate incivil or inappropriate behavior without objection, you invite MORE of the same behavior from the “perpetrator” AND from observers (Notice that there are two audiences noticing how you let yourself be treated). In essence, you become your own torturer when you tolerate the intolerable. Even if you have to go beyond your comfort zone, it is important that you make it clear, albeit tactfully, where your boundaries are. If you keep taking treatment that makes you feel small or otherwise insecure, it becomes the norm for your abusers and a more difficult pattern for you to interrupt and stop. And over time, your self-esteem will decrease in your own eyes.
Second, you teach people how to treat you when you decide on how you want to be judged. It is impossible to escape being judged by other people; but you can influence the assessments they make! You influence those assessments by managing the persona you put before others for critique and appraisal. Until you make a decision about what your persona will be, you are less likely to be consistent in your style, habits and demeanor. Essentially, you run the risk of coming across as erratic and your successes may be judged as accidents or flukes. Alternatively, you also run the risk of being unintentionally consistent in terms of displaying unproductive qualities.
CONSISTENCY is key to how you’ll be treated once you decide what your persona will be. The act of making a decision will enable and motivate you to live your life in a manner that draws out appropriate responses from people. When you are clear and consistent about what you stand for and operate in that realm, people adjust their behavior toward you to reflect what you’ve told them you want and who you are. In essence, people respond to what they’ve come to trust about you.
Without consistency, people don’t know how to categorize you or which box to place you in. Even if you want to be placed in multiple boxes, you need to tell people where to place you! People need your help to think well about you. They need you to teach them how to sort you.
What boxes are you drawing? If you don’t draw the boxes, your observers will draw their own boxes and place you in them!