Step 1 – Identify
First identify the takers and mooches around you. Think about the people who unload their problems but barely listen to you. Think about the people who ask you to run their errands that they could easily do themselves Think about the times that you’re stuck lending money to friends and family who rarely pay back. Once or twice doesn’t count. You know who consistently uses up your resources.
Step 2 – Identify Patterns
Once you identify and understand their behavior you must study patterns to identify how they weasel you out of time and money. For some people it’s a tone of voice or a certain look just before they ask for something. Most people are completely predictable when they want something from you. For example: consistently complimenting you just before asking for money. Also think about the keywords and phrases they use. People are creatures of habit. You must also consider your own patterns and reactions. Recognizing these will help you face the uncomfortable truth—that you are being taken advantage of.
Step 3 – Restrict access
Next you must restrict their access to you and your resources. Mooches will have to find alternatives to using you for their needs. During this phase you see that they don’t need you to function. You may also experience the relief of having their hold on you reduced. You’ll be less broke because you aren’t lending money to friends or family. Of several tactics used to restrict access one is to delay gratification. Become unreliable and make them wait. If you become unreliable they will move on to someone else.
Step 4 – Saying No
People waver on the deceptively simple task of saying no. It isn’t easy or comfortable to say it to those who we care for and want to do well. You must know how, why you are saying no and why you normally don’t. Practicing helps. You must get comfortable saying no before you can say it to someone you care about. Mooches will ask repeatedly so prepare yourself to stand firm. Doing the pre work in the first three steps will prepare you for the task.
Step 5 – Hold Them Accountable
If you make it easy for someone to use you they will. Hold them accountable. If you’ve gotten through saying no this step will be easier. The main challenge here is the hesitation to be assertive. Being assertive demonstrates that you are no longer an easy target. You shouldn’t plan a siege, simply address the subject of accountability the next time they make a demand on your time or pocketbook.
Step 6 – Verbalize Feelings
Maybe you’d like to preserve your relationships with family and friends. Having pent up animosity won’t help this goal. Get your feelings out! This step is optional, but valid. It is best to explain how their behavior makes you feel instead of just laying blame. Also reiterate that this “new” you is permanent; there will be no more taking advantage.
Step 7 – Rebuild
You have just emerged from a draining, tiring situation. Treat yourself. With more time rediscover what you want to do, buy and see. Take stock of any delayed goals. Rebuild your sense of self to guard against a repeat of this cycle.
Hopefully these steps will lead to a more fulfilled, energetic you so that you can stop being taken advantage of!
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