This is an updated version of the post originally published in May 2013. A version of this also appears in my upcoming book, Wear A Better Bra.

Disclaimer: I made a comment in the audio that I wish to retract. The person who assaulted me is wholly responsible for their actions and it wasn’t anything he “saw” in me. I wish to correct this statement to eliminate any self-blame other assault victims may be going through. 

This blog post initially started as a talk that I’d recorded while driving on the freeway (I’ve added that talks audio below). Inspired by a conversation where I told someone to tell me what they needed from me, I wanted to capture the benefits that come from realizing that you DO have the right to ask people to treat you a certain way. Many of us know this much but don’t know how to while still maintaining positive relations.

Of course, we COULD demand the world and have a list of do’s, don’t’s, demands and desires like those of superstars like Katy Perry. But folks may not really like us then either. Here’s my three tips on how to have people relate to you the way you’d ideally like:

  1. Treat yourself well. “How can I love somebody else if I can’t love myself enough to know when it’s time to let go?” Mary J. Blige asks this poignant question in Be Happy. Really, though, how can you? What you do to yourself and allow in your life tells others what is or isn’t acceptable to you. Be conscious of what you take in, listen to, who you associate with, who you choose as romantic partners, how you interact with others and do to or for yourself. People watch and take cues on how they can or will fit into your space by considering a lot of these factors.
  2. Show them. Have you heard, Do unto others as you would have them do to you? When you enter into any relationship with someone, by default treat them with dignity. Don’t go into a relationship with feelings of entitlement, suspicion or negativity. By showing honor you put honor and dignity out into the world and show that you have a lot of self-respect–enough that you’re comfortable with allowing another person theirs. People usually give back what you put out. Try smiling and saying hello to people you pass on the street and see whether this is true.
  3. Tell them. Mind reading is something most people can’t do. There may be a lot of nonverbal cues to tell people how they should treat you. The best way might be to tell them. Don’t allow people to assign what they feel you are to you. You tell them what you are and what you will be to them. In the business space this may mean not letting someone intimidate you into lowering prices only because they feel entitled to free or discounted services (this seems to come from friends and family for some reason). In personal relationships it may require that you tell someone that you will not tolerate their infidelity and are ceasing all contact. Clear and dignified communication helps all parties know what is to be expected and gives both the opportunity to make a decision on how to best move forward.

When you become confident and truly know yourself, you clearly see what things are good for you and what things don’t lend to the enrichment of your life. Thinking in these terms will help you decide what you will tolerate and why. There is usually not ever reason to be unnecessarily rude or tactless, but you can firmly stand by requiring only excellence in your presence, by both you and the other person only putting out your best.

What are some ways you qualify positive relationships and command respect? Please share in the comments below.

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