Being The Better Person Will Teach People To Treat You Like Crap

We're taught to turn the other cheek — that being kind in the face of hostility is the better way to respond to conflict so love can overcome hate. According to psychologist Clifford N. Lazarus, writing for Psychology Today, that sort of reaction just teaches abusive people that their behaviour is effective. Here's why.

It all comes down to something called the "Law of Effect", which refers to the way people interpret and understand the behaviour of others. For example, if someone treats you poorly and you treat them kindly, the effect produced by their bad behaviour is your affection. By being nice to mean people, you're essentially creating a reward system for bad behaviour.

This doesn't mean you should devolve into a complete arsehole anytime you encounter one, but it is important to remember that there is such thing as being too nice. When someone does something that bothers you, it's important to take that immediate opportunity to tell them. Being kind is often just an excuse to avoid necessary conflict. You don't have to be a jerk, but you do have to confront the situation or risk encouraging the bad behaviour you're seeking to prevent.

Are You Teaching People to Treat You Badly? [Psychology Today]


Comments

    I think you can call people to account for their jerkishness and still be kind. You don't have to stoop to jerkdom yourself to do that.

      That is, literally, what the article said...

    This article has the potential to bring out atheists who will say: "see the Bible/Jesus/God/Christianity is useless" and defensive Christians, who will rile up the atheists more.

    Sigh. The real problem is that Christianity shouldn't be a culture. Christianity should be a personal thing. (And not a "secret" personal thing- but that's another debate.)

    It doesn't work when Christian concepts are followed without the basis of a relationship with Christ.

      I don't see why religion anti or otherwise has to come into it at all? #}

      Agree with Eckythump - kindness is not a "Christian" invention. Anyway, the reason you should stay kind in the face of hostility is for your sake, not for the aggressor's. You can make your point without joining them in the mud-pit.

      As an atheist, I think Arabic/Jewish midget zombies are utterly irrelevant to my ethics and philosophies. But I do think that Generativity Theory provides a very solid probability modelling basis for Karma.

        "Generativity Theory" Had to look that up! Read the explanation,...still don't understand! #]

      Good job...you're the one who brought it in here.

    I think you're confusing being a pushover with being kind, they are two very different things.

    Simple solution: Deal with the problem, not the person.

      Agree with Ollie - play the ball not the player.

    Just because turning the other cheek reinforces the behaviours of the person being a jerk, doesn't change the fact that being a jerk in the first place wrong.

    There is a guy at work who is rude.. I will answer his questions but I won't go out of my way to help him. If he didn't act that way he would get a much better response from me. I don't know if he knows this and I'm not sure how to handle that situation any better apart from telling him how it is.

    "turn the other cheek" != "be kind".

    If someone's an arsehole to you and you ignore them entirely (ie; "turn the other cheek"), they don't get any affection from you, or any reward at all.

    The article even makes the distinction between "be kind" and "turn the other cheek":

    "Despite the Biblical decree, if you always turn the other cheek all you'll end up with is a completely sore face."

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