How do you treat yourself? How do you treat others? Do you think other people are more important than you are? Do you feel superior to others? How you view your interaction with others says a lot about you.

Everyone harbors the desire to be considered important and treated well. It’s common for someone to feel inferior to those with more money, more education, or a better career. Although someone may tolerate being treated disrespectfully, it’s not enjoyable. A person may think of themselves as nothing special due to upbringing, occupation, or the way they are treated.

Regardless of their role in society, everyone is important. Each job serves a needed function. Everyone is equal. To treat anyone as inferior is folly. Many people will put up with bad treatment because they feel their employment depends on it, not because they feel it’s deserved.

To get the best response from someone, treat them as an important person. Your treatment of others speaks volumes about you. The way you treat others affects the way you will be treated in return.

If people treat you poorly, resist the temptation to treat them in kind. A person may treat you poorly due to pre-conditioning. This is not to excuse their behavior but to explain it. They expect poor treatment so they automatically act defensively. As a result, they elicit the very same behavior from others that they abhor.

Treating a person as if they are above you is no better than treating someone as if they are below you. When you act inferior, you tend to be treated that way. The goal is to consider yourself and others as equal.

Since all people are in fact equal, this is not asking a lot. The challenge is overcoming engrained habits. Each person’s feelings are important. There’s no justification for being callous and uncaring.

Many interpersonal problems would evaporate if people would treat each other considerately. A person’s importance is not linked to social status, occupation, degree of wealth, where they live, what they own, or who they know.

It hurts to be treated poorly. Even a complete stranger can cause you emotional distress by a thoughtless action or comment. If and when this happens, remember that everyone is equal. If someone else doesn’t recognize this, they have a problem, not you.

Treat a person better than they expect and they’ll be pleasantly surprised. You will brighten their day. Interacting with you may even be a highlight of their day. When you treat someone well, they will respond to you in a very positive way. In most instances taking this tact will turn a frown into a smile.

Don’t try to fake this attitude. If you don’t believe everyone is important, but try to act as if you do, you will come across as insincere. Act superior and you will be shunned and resented. Act inferior and you will be taken advantage of and treated poorly.

Everyone is born equal and dies equal. Each of us travels an individual path. All paths are valid as long as one doesn’t harm others. How you think of and treat others determines how you are thought of and treated in return.

Everyone is important. Recognize and respect this and you will immeasurably enrich your life and the lives of others. Smile, say please, thank you, and wish others well. You will be astounded by how much more pleasant each day will be.

NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at bryan@columnist.com or write him c/o this paper.

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