I walk towards people who treat me like I am a “someone”. I walk away from people who treat me like a “something”.
This is not so easy to do. It takes time and practice to understand how we are being treated by people. Learning to be more observant is fundamental. Here’s some tips for making the distinction between being treated like a “someone” or a “something”.
Are they really listening to you? Some people are monologists. They talk at you not to you. They drone on and on while not giving you a chance to have an “in” for the conversation (if we can even call it a conversation). Some people are waiting to jump in to talk just to add their opinion or just to be able to participate in the conversation. Then, there are people who want to be argumentative and/or opinionated no matter what you have to say. People who respond with a shrug, a grunt or some other non-direct way are probably just not listening to you at all.
Are they paying attention to you? Are they looking at you? Are they giving you verbal responses? When someone’s attention is somewhere else these days it’s usually on a media device like a TV, a computer, a cell phone or a tablet. These distractions surely don’t foster connection on a physical level. You can be sure that someone has not got your attention when they are wrapped up in their media.
Are they trying to control you? When people try to control other people they view them as an object with no value except for what the object (you) can give them. These people tell you what you should do, how you should act and how you should be. Notice the word “should”. Once the “shoulds” come out of their mouths, you know you are viewed not as a “someone”.
Do they call you names or otherwise label you? Labeling is the surest way to put a person into a neat describable package. That package is who you are to them and not much else.
Do they dismiss your opinions, beliefs and ideas? People who treat people as “somethings” don’t care about what you think and believe. They haven’t much use for your opinion especially if it isn’t the same as their opinion.
When we step back in order to be observant rather than reactive we can notice the signs. It’s a choice we can make at any time. We can rely on our feelings too. If you notice that you are feeling irritated, annoyed, angry or anything else, think about what is causing you to feel that way. It could be that there is not something right about how you are being treated by the other person. We often have bodily sensations that can tell us that something is bothering us in our personal interaction with someone. Our gut might bother us. Our chest might tighten. Our muscles might tense up. We can have any number of physical sensations. It’s up to us to notice how our bodies feel.
I believe that it is healthy and necessary to put into practice walking towards people who treat us like a “somebody” while walking away from people who treat us like a “someone”. This is something that I intend to do as much as possible. I encourage you to do it too.