Stress, anger, and frustration can get the best of us, but we can change our ways. It’s possible to learn how to treat people better.
If you’ve ever snapped at someone you love or flipped off a stranger in traffic, congratulations. You’re human. And if you’ve felt guilty, not long afterward, you’re a good person. If we don’t face what is causing us to treat people poorly, how are we going to learn how to treat people better?
We all have moments we aren’t proud of. Whether we had a fight with a loved one, took our impatience out on a waiter, or cut someone off, these things can all be improved upon.
All of this negative behavior comes from stress, frustration, annoyance. Instead of focusing on the things that cause this mistreatment of others, we let our bad feelings out on others and forget about it later. All this does is continue our poor behavior in the future.
Be better to treat people better
It can be hard to admit that you haven’t been treating people as well as you could be. Whether you are rude to your partner, short with service workers, or just all around unpleasant, blaming ourselves for this behavior is tough.
We tend to blame our family for annoying us, employees for making mistakes, and traffic for getting on our nerves. We never look inward and think we are being impatient, unforgiving, or unfair.
It can be hard to look at yourself like that. You don’t want to admit that you’ve mistreated people on any level. But, until you can do that it can be hard to change that behavior.
In order to learn how to treat people better, you need to acknowledge how you have been treating people. Have you been rude to people? Have you yelled at coworkers? Are you prone to snapping at people?
Think about how that makes you feel. Do you think the people in your life enjoy those moments? Do you?
You want people to leave their interactions with you better than they were before, not worse.
Now, you cannot expect your behavior to change overnight. You become accustomed to your routine. But, if you can rearrange how to think about situations and slow down before reacting, you can do better and from there treat people better.
Treat yourself better
The next step in learning how to treat people better is learning how to treat yourself better. If you can’t be kind to the person you spend 100% of your time with, how do you expect to be kind to others?
Usually, when we are being rude to others, it is because we are angry with ourselves or our situation in some way. Whether it was a bad day at work, a fight, traffic, or anything else, we tend to be rude to people who have nothing to do with our bad mood.
Whether something happened that was within our control or not, recognize that treating people badly won’t improve anything. It won’t fix the problem. It won’t make us feel better, probably worse actually.
Treating people badly will never benefit us or anyone. Being rude to a stranger, a friend, or family member will not improve a situation. It won’t even let us feel like we released some sort of stress.
Being angry and negative only incites more anger and negativity. It may seem easy to react to bad situations badly. That is natural. But, it actually takes a lot less energy to turn those situations into opportunities to treat people better than you found them.
Sure, it will take practice to cool off and release the initial negativity that comes from a bad day. But adding positivity and treating people better will improve your day.
How to treat people better
So, how do you release negativity and learn how to treat people better? Practice active thinking, and doing. Treating people better isn’t about donating to charities and holding a door open for someone to make up for cutting someone you off on your way to work.
Although those things won’t hurt, learning how to treat people better is more than an act. It is an actual way to be more positive in your life. Adding more positivity into the world takes time.
#1 Don’t react immediately. One of the reasons we often lash out in bad situations is because we just react. We react to a traffic jam, a mistake at work, and a fight with a loved one. We don’t think about it and just let the experience be. We react, often poorly. And, we end up making things worse.
We may not be able to control what happens around us or to us. However, we can control how we react to it. We can take these things and make them better by reacting calmly and with kindness towards others.
#2 Think about how you’d want to be treated. Before you yell at a barista for getting your order wrong, think about how you would feel in that situation. You don’t know what they’re going through or if they’re new. Even if it was just an honest mistake, why be rude? What will that accomplish?
Do you want to be the reason that person now has a bad day and is rude to the rest of their customers, impacting their days poorly?
#3 What do you have control over? Think about the things you can control. You can control your mood. You can control how you treat people. Yes, it can take time to break out of bad habits. Nevertheless, it is all up to you.
Saying you can’t help but be rude because someone pushed your buttons or because you had a bad day are poor excuses.
#4 Smile at people. Something as simple as a smile really can make such a difference in how you treat others and how they treat you. When you smile at others, more than half of the time they will smile back. This is an easy and silent way to spread joy.
When you start doing this and notice others smiling back, you will feel better. Seeing others smile improves your mood naturally.
#5 Be polite. If you are no good at small talk or going out of your way for whatever reason, start treating people better with your magic words. That’s right. Please, thank you, you’re welcome, are all simple ways to treat people better.
You don’t need to get to know your cashier. You can just say thank you and have a nice day. It will leave them in a better mood for their next customer and will become a natural reaction for you. Things like this are contagious. When you make a point to be polite others will be in return.
#6 Compliment people. For years, I would keep my mouth shut, even if I had something nice to say. I would see a girl at the store with the coolest hairstyle and instead of telling her, I would walk by.
One day, I decided to tell my cashier how much I loved her makeup. Her face just lit up. I could tell that small sentence from a stranger just made her day. Knowing I made such an impact brightened my day. Now, whenever I see someone with a cool t-shirt, an awesome hairstyle, or anything else, I make a point to let them know.
#7 Don’t dwell. Dwelling on bad situations ruins your entire day. It puts you in a bad mood that you now carry with you for the day and to everyone you interact with. I was once sitting at a red light after driving behind the slowest person ever. I was sighing, until I realized this was so dumb.
Why was I letting five minutes of slow driving get me so frustrated? Why was I letting those five minutes now put me in a bad mood for my grocery trip, the ride home, and more?
If I had let that sit with me, I may have been short with the cashier, rude to other drivers, frustrated when a can rolled out of the bag in the trunk and carried that mood with me all day. Why give those five minutes that much energy and attention when I could let it go and have a good day?
#8 Acknowledge when others treat you with kindness. So many people ignore kindness from others. If you acknowledge when people are kind to you, even in the smallest way, it can improve your day and the days of everyone you later interact with.
Whether someone holds the door for you, picks up something you dropped, compliments you, or simply smiles as you pass by, take note of that.
#9 Be thankful. If after all of this, you still find it difficult to pull positivity out of a bad day, take five minutes before bed each night or before you get out of bed each morning to be actively grateful. Thank the universe for the good things in your life. That can be your partner, your pet, the fact that you have a roof over your head, food, or a job.
Actively list out at least three things in your life that you are happy to have. This will slowly integrate positive thoughts into your routine and help you realize there is a lot in your life to be happy about.
Once you start treating yourself better, you can learn how to treat others better. It’s possible to change your old ways.