Our actions have often influenced the behaviour of other people without our awareness. How someone responds to us is merely a reaction to how we behave towards them. If we are unfriendly or hostile, we are actually encouraging such a behaviour in them. They are highly likely to act in a similar way towards us. We may contend we are not unfriendly or hostile but the other person is.
When we expect positive behaviour from them, we are likely to receive positive response simply because we are positive in our attitude towards them. Likewise, if we like or trust someone, chances are they are likely to like or trust us in return. This applies too to the way we feel about someone. If we are not too enthusiastic about a person, she is not going to be enthusiastic about us. People know when they are not liked or welcome, and this is evident in their behaviour.
Our beliefs determine our attitude, which in turn determines our behaviour and the way we think and feel about other people. Nearly always our perception or misperception forms our beliefs. This leads to the way we behave towards and relate to them which in turn determines how they respond to us. Sometimes we can know for certain that someone likes us as is obvious from their behaviour. When that happens, it is necessary on our part to reciprocate by showing our appreciation.
There are times when we think we know the intentions behind the actions of others, but we don’t actually know. Worst is when we are unsure about the intentions and draw hasty conclusions, which often turn out to be incorrect. The only evidence we have for arriving at a conclusion is their behaviour which may not be an accurate reflection of how they are feeling at the moment. In other words, their behaviour may appear negative but their inner feeling at the same time may be entirely positive. We wrongly interpret their behaviour in our own arbitrary way.
We are rarely tolerant in judging others, and it is hardly surprising that the conclusions we draw about their intentions are often far from valid. When someone could not give us a helping hand, we automatically assume the worst. We readily conclude they are unwilling to help, and may even resort to thinking of retaliatory actions such as making a promise to our own selves not to help them in the future.
The assumptions we so often make about other people’s intentions are mostly untrue but they become true because we believe them to be true. It is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. You think your manager is not playing you enough on the first team. You assume this is because he has no complete confidence in your skill and performance. This state of affairs bothers you and causes you to feel less confident in yourself. Your performance deteriorates, and your manager, who has never doubted your ability to perform satisfactorily, is now troubled by your performance. So he plays you less often than before, thus confirming your belief.
Our expectations are important too. When we expect a particular kind of response from the other person and it is not forthcoming, or when their behaviour is contrary to our expectation, our feeling changes. Our expectation determines our attitude and our attitude determines our manner towards other people. Our behaviour towards others elicits like response.
Children have always modelled themselves on their parents. They imitate a great deal of their parents’ mannerisms by observing. Parents therefore have a moral obligation to ensure their children are learning the right kind of speaking and behaving, and grow up as a well-mannered individual. If parents want their children to be, say, empathetic, they can deliberately display empathetic behaviour in themselves so that they serve as a model for the children to copy.
Once we get to understand that it’s our behaviour that causes other people to adopt similar behaviour, it requires us to change the way in which we perceive others and behave.