Do you realize that how you behave affects your own mental health? Your actions, reactions, spoken opinions, and verbal limits you set with others create an inner climate in which you live.

Acting out productive behaviors will also give you self-confidence and help you earn respect from other people. But, good behaviors, coming from you, also set the tone for happiness and feeling strong enough to withstand challenges.

Some psychologists have written that we learn our philosophies from our mothers, but we learn our methods of behaving from our dads. This may or may not be true; however, we do learn our behaviors from other people in some manner.

Life is a classroom, so we each have plenty of opportunities every day to observe good behaviors.

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These types of behaviors make life more comfortable:

  • Learn to listen well. Taking in information, when you’d rather scream, is hard to do. But, other people might be making points you need to hear. Good listeners always make more informed decisions. Bad listeners only make enemies.
  • Think before you speak. Even your worst enemies know if you’re an intelligent, thoughtful person. Don’t just spout off crazy remarks or opinions. Try to state some facts that open up the minds of those around you. Do this gracefully, if possible.

A friend of ours is an attorney who defends criminal cases. We’ll call her Sharon.

“I try hard to look at every case from every person’s viewpoint,” Sharon points out. “This way, when I am literally pleading for mercy or exoneration for my client, I am making good sense. Ninety-nine% of the law is just good common sense. If I speak solid, common sense in my remarks, I will get respect in the courtroom.”

Getting respect happens when you demonstrate you care about the feelings of those present. One way to do this is to say what you’re not saying. For example, you might say, “I’m not saying I won’t help you move the furniture. I am saying I can’t do it before Wednesday.”

Another productive communication is this: Brag on someone before you criticize them. You might say, “Charles, your team does excellent landscaping work. I really like the way the property looks around these condos. But, if your guys could start at 9:00 a.m. instead of 8:30, this would give the residents more time to move their cars before you start mowing.”

Focus on what’s going to work in the long run, versus attacking a person. For example, tell your best friend, “If you could call around seven in the evenings, the two of us can talk longer. Calling at six cuts our time short because I’m cooking dinner then.”

Try to develop sensitivity to the feelings of others. This takes practice. Ask, “Will this plan work for you?” Or say, “Let me know if something changes and you need more information to close this deal.”

Behave in ways that let others know you’re trying to bring good outcomes. We’ve all known people who will flub a business deal, cause chaos at a party, or make others feel stupid. Vow to behave in ways that make you the consummate, trusted leader in your family or at work.

Be bold enough to ask people what they’re feeling. Act very concerned about their feelings at all times. Ask what you can do for them. These behaviors will ensure you get more respect.

Judi Light Hopson is author of the stress management book, “Cooling Stress Tips.” She is also executive director of USA Wellness Café at Emma Hopson is a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist. ©2020 Person to Person. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.