Scaling The Ladder

Treat yourself right: Teach others how they should treat you

During one of my training sessions on mindset and performance, one participant poured grief about the excessive workload delegated to himself and his team.

Another participant felt no hope in having a life outside of work due to the extended working hours, while another was unhappy due to constant rumours being spread around the office.

Research shows that 60 to 80 percent of all challenges in organisations stem from people relationships - not issues in skill or motivation. And in any relationship, you will always get one of two things:

1) What you create; and

2) What you allow

Therefore, success in the workplace depends on our ability to set boundaries that encourage mutual respect, clear limits, define expectations and keep the focus on productivity.

Great relationships do not compromise our own physical, emotional, or mental health.

Creating boundaries at work can get tricky as there is the real worry of the consequences of demotion, being fired, not being liked, abandonment, loneliness, negative perceptions from others, guilt, payback and rejection.

However, if nothing is done, what we allow is what will continue.

With clear communication, practice and preparation you can vocalise your boundaries effectively. As the saying goes, “It is not what you say, but how you say it.”

Here’s how to teach people how to treat you right:

1. You must believe that you deserve to be treated right.

Being Asian, we tend to still believe that some deserve more respect than others due to certain culture and hierarchy. Being human beings, however, means that we should believe that each and every one of us is entitled to our rights and respect.

I remember an uncle would always pinch our cheeks so hard and give us a few ‘friendly slaps’ and say “my darling!”

For years, each time we saw him, we knew to expect and endure the pain. This went on until a very much younger kid who had no concept of respect based on our cultural standards, pinched the uncle’s cheeks back so hard and gave him harder than friendly slaps and then cried, “Don’t pinch me, it HURTS!”.

In this kid, lied our hero.

Having to set boundaries with people whom we historically wouldn’t requires a sense of self worth, moral courage and a belief that boundaries eventually will invite higher respect between both.

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2. Share the non-negotiables of a great working relationship

It is important to clarify to yourself the non-negotiable in your relationships with others and communicate them upfront prior any conflicts.

During one of my training sessions, I was told that a participant felt immediately loyal to her new manager who drew a boundary with regards to direct communication.

Her manager said, “The one thing I need in this relationship is for me to be the first person you talk to about me and about your work. I, in return, promise that you will be the first person I talk to about you and about your work.”

They shook hands on this and stayed on course.

3. Raise awareness on re-focus on effectiveness

There are many behaviours at work today that may be ineffective and here’s one.

Today, most companies use technology and time-saving devices to stay connected, relay information and get things done. The paradox lies when these devices cause us to constantly hurry, ultimately creating a cost to our emotional well-being and personal lives.

Harvard Professor, Leslie Perlow has labeled this feeling as the time famine. According to a research, people regard personal time as more important at 68% than even having children at 62% and a successful career at 59%.

I remember finding it extremely difficult to create work boundaries around time when I first moved to Malaysia from Australia. I decided it was important to facilitate a discussion with my then bosses around our current working styles and detriments of working without time boundaries.

As it turned out, everyone experiences similar consequences in their personal lives, however it was ingrained in the culture and as such, there had been no such ‘declaration on change’.

We decided it would be more effective to focus on how the same performance, productivity and profits could be achieved within time-boundaries.

It worked.

The same declaration of change should be exercised with any workplace behaviors that lead to ineffectiveness in performance, productivity and profits.

Here’s a quote for you to end with and ponder on:

“If you aren’t being treated with love and respect, check your price tag. Maybe you’ve marked yourself down. It’s you who tells people what you’re worth. Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables” - Anonymous

Hetal Doshi – Suhana Daswani is a professionally qualified organisational psychologist, certified professional coach, and the founder of O Psych Sdn Bhd, with an expertise in work performance, team dynamics and emotional intelligence. To get in touch with her, drop an email to


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