Why are we often treated worse by those whom we love most?

That is until there’s a gut check. We train people how to treat us.

I recall a consulting client who had hit rock bottom. She was feeling depressed and struggled to move her business and personal matters forward in a positive direction. She needed a gentle hand slowly walking her through the process of discovery—the seeking and finding—to unfold and blossom. I instructed her to begin discovering what she really wanted instead of dwelling in disappointment. Her revenue increased as she began answering the question, “What do I want?” and in time, her laughter and confidence returned. Underneath the layers was a beautiful spirit; she was an amazing person waiting to be awakened.

One day, she asked if we could establish a friendship outside of our client-consultant relationship. I thought “Hmmm, why not?” However, I did not consider the barometer that had already been set. I was her haven. She never had to be mine, nor ever needed to be. And, the relationship became unbalanced for she wanted a friend but did not act like one. I would show up for her, but often she did not for me; yet, it was fascinating to watch her be there for those who took her for granted.

It dawned on me this occurs in many relationships. The people who treat us worse are often those who we treat best, but only because we do not demand respect from them.

When she didn’t honor her word, I was there. When she screwed up in not honoring a promise, I was still there. Each time I willingly let her take me for granted, I taught her she could do no wrong. Our relationship was constantly dishonored, disrespected and degraded. By not requiring her to rise above and honor the friendship, I showed her our relationship was not worthy of respect and perhaps, myself also.

However, the day came when the tables turned. The day of my gut-check: a horrible, sinking feeling in my stomach.

I noticed I started focusing on what I would lose if I rocked the boat instead of what I could gain. Subconsciously, I invited continuous disrespect. I feared losing a relationship that was not dear to me from its beginning.

The day of the gut check prompted me to look within deeply. I felt unworthy, unwanted, disrespected and not enough. I knew I was worthy of respect and feeling disempowered by the situation was disgraceful to God’s creation: me. So, I decided not to allow the relationship to remain this way. It was not valuable. I needed to make a change and no longer accepted this behavior. Shrinking back to make her larger-than-life comfortable was not an option. I took my power back and ever since life has been peachy!

The next time you have that sinking feeling with a friend, perhaps it’s your gut-check demanding you to reevaluate, reassess and readjust your relationship.


Lisa Thomas is the CEO of The P3 Group, Inc. and The P3 Group International, LLC, publisher of The P3 Power Boost Online Magazine, host of The P3 Power Boost Radio Show, and President of the Board of Directors of NetWorth. She is a 20-year veteran in the business, executive leadership and performance coaching/consulting. She has worked extensively with corporate call centers, executives and small business enterprises. She’s been a featured columnist and business strategist on Affiliate NPR, WFDD, The Cary News, Fox 8 and numerous NBC affiliate stations.

Lisa is best known for her business and leadership acumen and is widely recognized her ability to develop leaders to be more effective. Lisa is also a sought-after keynote speaker on various topics women in leadership face. She generously donates her time and expertise to a number of organizations and worthy causes, including NetWorth, the Business Succession Forum Network, and the Hazel B. Neal Foundation, for which she recently was recognized with the woman of Power, Purpose and Vision award. In her downtime, she can be found practicing yoga, cycling, swimming, reading a good book or spending time with family and friends.

Lisa Thomas
CEO/Sr. Business Strategist
The P3 Group, Inc.
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