Changing How People Treat You

Yes, you CAN change how others generally treat you by changing your own behavior and appearance. But that's definitely NOT the whole picture, it's only a small piece of it.

If you're a woman, or a smaller man, you are not going to walk into the average Carpenter's Union office and be treated with the same respect as a large man, no matter how "confident" you appear, how friendly or dominant you act, or what outfit you're wearing.

The bias and bad manners of other people are NOT dependent on YOU, the way you hold yourself, or your character as a person. A majority of humans are generally judgmental of others in very superficial and petty ways, and generally don't stop to doubt their snap judgments and assumptions.

If you're a tall, relatively athletic looking man wearing a certain kind of suit, MOST humans will assume that you are smart, successful, and capable in all kinds of things, with absolutely zero evidence. Other humans will assume that you are a "stuffed suit" and/or a slick politician, again with zero evidence. If you take that suit off, muss up your hair and change into overalls and boots, they'll probably peg you for a laborer or a farmer. Since you're a tall man, they'll probably STILL treat you like you know what you're doing in whatever field they think you're in, even with your hair mussed up. Your sister standing right next to you with a business suit on and well-groomed hair will be assumed to be only capable of certain business tasks (that you are in charge of), but not the actual hands-on labor; again, with zero evidence of any of it.

Generally, humans ASSUME and JUDGE, based on silly, superficial, nonsensical visuals. Humans treat others BASED ON these "assessments". BELIEVE IT, it's absolutely true. And even when they see for themselves that their assumptions were wrong, they will STILL often try to "make" their original judgment be real by behaving as if it IS real~ they don't just suddenly start treating a person with more respect when they see they were wrong, and in fact might start treating them with LESS respect, trying to "knock them down".

You can IMPROVE the way others react to you and treat you by changing the way you dress and do your hair, the way you hold yourself, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you treat THEM. But you are NOT going to get them to change their senseless biases and assumptions based on your general body type.

If you're a small woman who's a master craftsman, and you apply for a position with your brother who's also a master craftsman, guess who probably going to get the job? It doesn't matter HOW you come across to the employer, the odds of your brother being hired and NOT you are already stacked before you walk in the door. The only way you're going to get it INSTEAD of your brother is if the person hiring is actually aware enough to do a real assessment of each of you as potential hirees, OR if they have a specific reason why they would rather hire a woman, or you specifically.

Does it mean you should GIVE UP what you love to do and what you're good at just because other people can't handle it or don't want to recognize that you're capable? Absolutely not! But don't beat yourself up about the reasons why people don't treat you with the same respect that they treat others. It's good to present ourselves in a good light, and "show up respectably" and confidently. And.... that will IMPROVE the way people treat us. But it won't make them do a 180. Many, perhaps most humans are generally very biased and presumptuous in a very superficial, cartoonish way. (That's the reason changing your appearance even works in the first place).

Testing this is EASY!
 You can stand back and WATCH how others treat different people, like in a big box store or a fast food restaurant, for example. Watch how the clerks and other workers interact with each different customer. Who do they smile at, who do they "help" more, who do they make eye contact with? Who do they display "respect" to, and who do they treat poorly, or with a lack of friendliness or respect? 
When you go on a date, or go out somewhere with someone, watch how staff at the places you go to treat each of you differently. A person who has a lot of biases will usually treat one of you with more respect and friendliness than the other (bad for business). (If YOU or your friend is behaving with hostility and rudeness, then this experiment is moot, you aren't doing it right. In order for it to work, you both have to behave with the same well-mannered demeanor or it's pointless.) 

Watch your OWN biases. Go in a store and look around to see who you assume would know more about the products, who is the boss, and who you would not ask for help because they "look" like they wouldn't be knowledgeable. Look at the businesses in your area, do you buy into the gender stereotypes of "what men are naturally better at" and "what women are naturally good at"? Where do you think those beliefs come from, and if they're "natural", then why are these assumptions different in different regions? If you ask about fixing a leak, who do you assume will know about it, and what's your basis for this assumption? Do you really believe that you "CAN'T" learn how to do certain things because of your gender? Do you place this belief on others? What about race, how do you see individuals of different races, what are your assumptions? When you go to a gas station, do you think you know all about each of the other individuals there, based on their vehicle their sex, and their appearance?

Too Smart

Narcissists DO commonly treat those who they get a "smart/intelligent" vibe from with disrespect and condescension. By the time they're adults, they've been doing it for at least 10 years straight. They do it for the obvious reasons of ego, control, and their domination issues. They also don't want to get caught; if you're too smart, not only are you going to be hard to manipulate, but you're going to see through the smoke.


Bias is basically when I'm supportive and interested in one kind of person, but bored with and non-supportive toward another kind of person.
So when tall, dark haired Leslie starts to speak, before she even finishes a syllable I'm quiet and paying attention so I can hear what she says, and I'm engaged and focused; I'm listening for the message she's conveying, and I display responses to her social signals; I laugh at her humor signals.
But when average height, soft spoken, light haired Lisa starts to speak, I barely pause to even acknowledge her. I might stop for a moment just to appear polite, but I really am not interested in what she has to say. When Lisa is finished speaking (or gives up because she's being ignored), I don't give her acknowledgment or respond to her humor, but I do argue with something she said.
In reality, Lisa is quite experienced on the subject we are talking about, and has some interesting things to say that I could really learn from. Leslie has a little experience, but not nearly as much as Lisa. Also, Lisa is actually a kinder person than Leslie, and much more polite. While Leslie interrupts people when they speak, counters them, and talks over them, Lisa is quite receptive to others' points of view, a very good listener, and a polite conversationalist.
So why am I listening to Leslie, but being quite rude and ignoring Lisa?
The harsh reality is not about them, but about ME. I'm simply not very aware of my own behavior, which is pretty rude, and is driven by my own bias.

Leslie's appearance catches my interest, and her manner reminds me of someone I like. Also, she's tall, and that kicks in a certain assumption that is often found in primates; following larger individuals. Her complexion and "coloring" is similar to my own, and my family's, so that feels comfortable. She seems popular, everyone else seems to pay attention to her, so my subconscious is reinforced to "pay attention to Leslie" because that's what "we" do. Her appearance, vocal tone and her body language convey dominance and a lack of manners, which I mistake for confidence and experience.
Lisa is smaller than Leslie, and me, so that kicks in a similar primate assumption: assigning smaller individuals "lower status". That's the biggest factor in my anti-Lisa bias, especially since she's sitting near Leslie, who I'm automatically comparing her to. Second, I get the feeling she's very intelligent, which threatens my ego, especially since she's smaller than me, and female. (I don't want to be told something I don't know by a "lower status" individual.) Third, her hair is light colored, which reminds me of a young person, which signals my subconscious again to lower her "status", and so I "don't have to pay attention to her". Fourth, her polite manner and soft voice signal to me that I will not receive serious CONSEQUENCES for ignoring her; she's probably not going to humiliate or attack me for being rude to her, because she's well-mannered. (Leslie probably would.)
Last but definitely NOT least, she reminds me of a classmate I grew up with who I was jealous of.
When no one else sends social signals that say "Hey! Pay attention to Lisa when she is speaking!", I just go along with my inclination to ignore her rudely, because I don't feel that there will be any real repercussions for doing so.
Our bias tells us who to pay attention to, who to engage with, who to treat with respect and friendliness, and who to listen to, believe, and follow.
It is NOT an accurate assessment of other people, although we often believe that's exactly what it is. Most of the time our biases are blanket assumptions and emotional associations that we developed in childhood, based on the very small, limited, tiny corner of the world we were experiencing, with a very small number of human beings in it. Of course we all think we're quite worldly and know "how people are", and believe we are pretty good at assessing people with very little information. We also tend to think that people are the same everywhere, that all cultures reflect the same stereotypes, and everything has been the way it is, basically, throughout history.
We think our biases are RIGHT, mostly.
So even when we're confronted with direct evidence that we are as "off" as we could possibly be, we usually deal with it by ignoring this evidence, and digging into our biases like a tick holding onto a dog's back.
Bias is one of the larger problems in our world, and one of the most difficult to change, only because WE don't want to change our OWN, mostly. We want to KEEP our biases, because they feel like Linus's blanket to our egos.
How do we change our biases? Simple~ by paying attention to our behavior; really paying attention.

  By M.M.Black ©2013