Not rewarding bad behavior is one of these sage little tidbits that is often selectively applied.
I apply it with my dogs. Having five there is a continual training process going on in my house. My dogs all go out first thing in the morning and do their business – both kinds of business, all five, every morning. It is their schedule. Sometimes I have to remind them when they come to the door to “go potty” at which point they look at me with dopey dog eyes saying, “oh yeah, I forgot” and they promptly go back in the yard and poop. Yes, my brilliant dogs sometimes forget to poop. Anyway, when all five have conducted business as a whole then they all five get a treat.
When I leave the house I remind them all to be good and upon my return if they have then they all get a treat. If one has decided to destroy a roll of paper towels, de-stuffed a cushion or peed on the floor then none of them get a treat. They do not get rewarded for bad behavior. One of my dogs will even put himself in the corner if he misbehaves, he knows no reward for bad behavior.
When I arrive home if any try to jump up on me they promptly get a reminder not to do so; however if they back off and sit when told then they get lots of affection and praise. No reward for bad behavior.
I applied the same philosophy to my son when he was growing up. When he was little he would attempt to go through a whining phase every once in a while. If he started whining I would ignore him. When he would realize that his theatrics were had attention he would say something to me about if I was listening or some other ridiculous remark, to which I responded in a very matter of fact voice, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you, all I hear was this horrible, irritating whiney noise. When you talk to me in an appropriate manner then I can hear you and will listen to you.” And I would walk away. No reward for bad behavior. I have given my son so much material for a therapist down the road…
Often times I find people allow bad behavior from the object of their affection or co-workers. What is worse is the excuses that they come up with for this person’s behavior. If you are interested in someone and things are going great but all of a sudden they start ignoring you how often is the phrase, “Oh, I know they are really busy” come in to play? So you make an excuse for them not returning a call that they said they would, or breaking plans etc. Then you assume ownership of this and try to “help” this person but making the call again, re-planning etc. You are rewarding bad behavior. Knock it off.
On the surface it appears that you are merely making excuses for them but really you are providing and validating a reason for them to treat you poorly. You deserve better than that! People are busy, yes, however; does it really take that long to make a quick call or text? Nope. Face it, if someone wants to reach you they will, if they do not reach out let it go and do not establish a pattern that you deserve less than respectful treatment.
In the workplace it is very easy to become the dumping ground for co-workers or bosses. I have a friend that is the ultimate worker, a boss’s dream. He is hard working, comes in early, doesn’t complain, takes pride in his job, goes above and beyond without being asked and truly gives 110% every day. He had a boss that would frequently ask him to complete some menial tasks for other workers because 1. They needed to be done and 2. The other workers refused to do them.
This is a management issue, an example of poor management on so many levels – but I won’t get into that side of it. My friend was being used because he was a good employee and the boss was rewarding the bad ones by having my friend complete their tasks. The light bulb finally came on and he realized the reward for bad behavior.
The next time his boss asked him to complete other’s tasks he calmly explained what was on his agenda for the day, all the tasks that he was responsible for that needed to be completed, and asked his boss which was a higher priority because in his mind his tasks were of high priority but if his boss would rather he not complete his job for the day in order that the menial tasks get done then that would be his call. His boss became a bit flustered and my friend told him that he would like to help him but it was important to him that he give his full time and attention to his job as that is what the company was depending on him to complete so he unfortunately would not be able to do the other tasks.
It is ok to say no. This should be done in a professional and non-confrontational manner; however it is important to reclaim your respect within your world. Your time, talents and attention are just as valuable as anyone else’s so why allow someone else to de-value you?
In networking I had a young lady that routinely would set an appointment with me then cancel at the last minute. We are in a networking group together so I gave her a bit more leeway than I normally would, but after the third time I was done. When she reached out once again I politely declined the offer. She apologized profusely about the prior cancellations and I thanked her for her apology; however my time is very valuable and therefore I can only schedule appointments with others who value time as much as I do and suggested that perhaps down the road when she has more control over her schedule we might find the opportunity to sit down.
No one will value you unless you value yourself first. If you are going to blindly assume that my world revolves around you then please do not waste my time. There will be another project, another networking opportunity, another potential prospect – but I will not give you another opportunity to disrespect or de-value me. I have refused to work with clients because of their disrespect, their attitude that because they are paying for a service this somehow gives them a right to be disrespectful to me or anyone I am connected with. Wrong, move on.
The last two statements may come across to some as self-serving or bold; perhaps. They may even give the impression that I am demanding; I am. Demanding of myself because here is the thing – I value myself. I give 150% to my clients, my family, my friends, my networking and business partners; anyone that I choose to have in my life in any way. I value them and therefore I openly and willingly give all that I can to them.
I do not expect anything of others that I would not expect of myself. I treat others with respect, dignity and honesty. I respect the individual and therefore believe that they believe to be treated in this manner; and it is an easy thing to behave in this manner because I respect myself.
If you find that you are giving cookies for other’s peeing on your floor take a step back and see how you are encouraging this behavior. It might just come down to a matter of treating yourself with more respect in order that others will do the same.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.