• Tracy Hooper

Teach People How to Treat You in 2020



The handshake is history, at least for a while. Masks are “in,” reluctantly. And, you may have a new office, maybe the kitchen table, or the laundry room, whichever has the best Wi-Fi signal! So, in this alternate reality, how do you teach people how to treat you?


For now, people are not shaking hands and we’re trying to figure it out. Do we wave?

Salute? Or nod? So far, it’s undetermined. But, masks are a must.


Recently, my husband, Henry and I ordered take-out from a neighborhood restaurant to support their business. We had our masks on, which fog up our glasses, by the way, but the person handing us our meal wasn’t wearing one. I was mad, but it felt awkward to say anything. So, I didn’t.


The next day, our plumber came over to fix something. I answered the door with my mask on. He wasn’t wearing one. This time, I spoke up.

“John, do you have a mask?”

“Yeah, it’s in my truck.”

“Great. I’d like you to wear it, please.”

“No problem.”

And that was it. We can teach people how to treat us. It’s like telling someone who’s driving too fast, “I prefer that you go the speed limit.”


These are small requests or statements but asserting yourself shows confidence. And

today, it also shows respect for everybody’s health and safety. For Social Distancing, “I’m going to step back because we’re standing too close.” Or, before you decide to meet a colleague or client in-person, be honest about your quarantine or your sheltering-in-place. “Before we get together, I want you to know that I’ve been quarantining at home with my family. How about you?”


Marissa Levine is a Professor of Public Health and Family Medicine at University of South Florida in Tampa. She says, “Have a conversation about what’s your risk and where you’ve been. We may not know 100%.” It feels weird, but none of us wants to inadvertently infect another person.


And another boundary? Be mindful of how you treat yourself.


Leaders are saying that it’s hard to turn off work because they feel like they need to be fully present for their teams. And team members are saying, they don’t want to be perceived as “slackers” if they’re not “on” 24/7.

Here’s how to set your work boundaries: Record a new voice mail message.

“Thanks for calling. My office hours are 9-5. Please leave a message, and I’ll call you back.” Have a similar out-of-office email message.


Finally, there are personal business boundaries for the people we live with. A couple I know, who are now working from home, say every morning, they kiss each other goodbye, as if they are leaving for the day and then go into different rooms that have become their “home offices.” They close the doors and don’t pop in and out. At lunchtime, they meet in the kitchen and catch up like colleagues at work. But afterwards, they head back to their “offices” until their office hours are over.

All this being said, boundaries around teaching people how to treat you can go sideways…a child starts to cry --- the babysitter cancels---or your dog escapes out the front door. When this happens, take a long, deep breath and downshift into compassion.

Have empathy for other people these days and your pets. And save some for yourself, too.


If you’d like to bring The Confidence Project to your team virtually, please connect us. Thank you.

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