Three Ways to Stop Being a Doormat
What do you call someone who keeps on giving but doesn’t receive? A doormat.
Lead with generosity but reject abuse.
One-way relationships indicate disrespect.
First-time managers, who are kind and sincere, are most susceptible to the doormat problem.
Giving to get is manipulation. But, constant giving with no return is abuse, assuming recipients are capable of return.
Give to those who respond in kind.
- Respect the value of your contribution.
- Clarify that you want a two-way – not a one-way – relationship. One way relationships are sick, when healthy people could respond in kind.
- Teach others to respect you. (Three strategies below)
Doormats keep saying yes. Earn respect by saying no to those who abuse generosity.
Create a strategic no and then say it. “I would love to help, but, I can’t, this time.”
New behaviors feel awkward and fake. Work through awkwardness or keep getting walked on.
Tip: nice people say no nicely.
Don’t use frustration as courage. You allowed things to get out of hand. It’s not their responsibility. It’s yours.
You’re a doormat if you adapt to others, but they never adapt to you.
Someone asked you to adapt your schedule and you did. But, when you needed them to adapt to you, they refused, even though they could. Don’t keep adapting. If you do, you’re a doormat.
Help isn’t helpful when it creates dependency. Encourage people to help. It’s as simple as, “Could you give me a hand?”
When people offer to help, let them! Healthy people help each others. Doormats don’t let others help.
Receive help gratefully, even if you could do it alone.
Capacity matters. Some are incapable of giving help in return. We don’t expect children to respond in kind, for example.
Added resource: 16 Ways to Help Less
Why do people become doormats?
How can leaders rise above the doormat problem?
Great post Dan,
For me the key of everything you shared boils down to motive….intent.
Spot on giving to get…..dealio is that is NOT really giving. That is shown clearly by the return or lack thereof, yes? Law is you get what you give, no grey area there.
True giving is done with no thought of return. Giving with strings is a nice try of manipulating, just like you said.
Leaders, people who choose to Lead and have Followers can Lead by,
Getting their Intent clear
Keeping their word
Regularly doing Random Epic Acts of Kindesss
Being an example of an Oxytocin Generating Machine.
Yeah thats the ticket, making copies!
Thanks for the good word Scott.
The key for me is to to say, “No,” but also to teach people and to push them to work to their fullest potential. “Mentor and Release.”
Thanks Martina. “Mentor and release” … love the “r” word there.
Thanks Dan, good post. The book “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend is a good read for those who want to go deeper on this subject.
Thanks Duane. Love their work.
Here’s the link: Boundaries
Hi Dan, loving your daily messages here in the UK. You inspire me to spread the message of ” people matter ”
Thank you so much my friend.
Thanks Maurice. Best wishes!
People become doormat to fulfill their motive. Alternatively when people are morally weak and incompetent, they do not have option and eventually becoming doormat is only the option. People can rise above the doormat problem by believing in them. They should believe in their strength. When people do not have control on their desire and do not work hard to achieve that, they tend to become doormat. On the other hand, when they start working hard to achieve what they want, they keep going away from doormat.
May times people become doormat to win favor of people because they believe it easier way to get their desire.
Self-esteem enhancement is the way to overcome doormat problem. And it is only possible by self-realization. In the organizations, leaders can create situations when doormat people find it hard to achieve goal easily. This may help them to working hard and thus they can get away with doormat mentality.
Thanks Ajay. You gave a great summary and suggestions for rising above being a doormat. Much appreciated.
Leo Buscalia used to say, “only people with dirty feet need a doormat.”
Liked the blunt, true comment of Leo Buscalia.You loose the courage of saying no in ‘a yes-man’ culture and gradually adapt to a safe environment where you also become one of those who are taken as granted. Your inactivity or activity sans enthusiasm leads to mediocracy and that’s the main reason of making your feet dirty.
Great post Dan! Recently I was pushed into a ‘melt down.’ I felt drained and when I sat down and did some introspection, it hit me smack in the face that I was constantly giving but not getting back from those who I was constantly giving to. So this post is a further wake up call for me personally, ie to learn to say ‘no.’
I have an awful lot of footprints on my resume. Guilty as charged! I will put those three principles into action immediately.
I learned about a style of leadership called “servant leadership” and it really resonated for me, so I have put it into practice in my work life. The downside is that leaders with less developed styles and no manners see it as an opportunity to treat me poorly. They think I am weak, and pile on the abuse like schoolyard bullies. I still believe in the power of servant leadership. I was raised with proper etiquette. My vest pocket book of etiquette states that it is deplorable to treat your servants and waiters in an abusive fashion, because their source of livelihood is at stake if they attempt to defend themselves.
I think I have to remember that I am not an actual servant, and I can take a few key measures to push back against bullies in the workplace. Thanks Dan. Your blog is a constant source of wisdom and inspiration.
I liked your commenting on ‘servant leadership’. In fact, this could be the main reason for leaders going in doormat category with no other choice since the job is at stake!
I feel, it’s more of a tough choice to react in protest or to leave the not too encouraging work environment.
Great post Dan – and the timing could not be better for me. Just also heard the late Jim Rohn say, “Do you run your business, or does it run you?”
Thank you for sharing this post, I needed to hear this today 🙂
“Doormat” is very close to “dormant.” I can see some similarities in both! Thanks for another great post.
Wow! Dan, your post was a bulls-eye! It speaks to co-dependent behavior in the midst of all of us. Your point that if we have not used effective boundaries appropriately, then we cannot blame others, especially with anger, is very important, and one that I have struggled with. Thank you!
It’s unfortunate yet it’s a reality that history until now is replete with givers and takers. And, what’s also true is that givers create the takers…paradoxically by giving without some sense of “giving responsibility.” It seems to be the giver’s fault.
One of my early elementary school teachers told me something I’ve never forgotten: “His-story” is OUR story. And so we learn history to learn about ourselves. For example, every society or civilization has had its share of rich and poor, haves and have not’s, generational poverty vs. dependence, and givers and takers. If the givers have out-numbered the takers, that society flourishes. But, when internal and external disaster begins with even ONE person’s philosophy of “doing less and wanting more,” there’s a shift from a team effort to a struggle between takers and givers–and the takers start out-numbering the givers. This continues until the society falls apart in moral decay and material bankruptcy.
I’m noticing a common thread in this and most all other posts: It’s up to leaders to assume responsibility for everything from failure to success, and even taking and giving.
I can not tell you how many conversations I’ve shared regarding epidemic of negative moral behavior displayed by our fellow man. It’s eveident across our nation, industry, and government. If those of us that recognise the urgent need to restore and inspire honest, effective, respected leadership that places service and caring for your people at the top of our priorty list, it is my fear that ‘we wiil’ face a serious disconnect with the younger generation of future leaders. Which is a tragedy, as they are our ‘Future Builders’.”The time is now,, lets start a Leadership-Revolution”!!!
Thank you, Steven, for coming back two days later and reading not only my comments but perhaps others. It speaks to your leadership! You’re right: “We must CARE about a world we will not see”…for our children and our children’s children, and other people’s children. My dad came here as a Mexican illegal, but dreamed of becoming an American citizen…and did. He sent all of his sons to WWWII, Korea, and in my case Viet Nam. He was older and a farmer, so he just became Mayor of Bakersfield an oil city here in California. The one constant conversation was about givers or takers. America was built on givers, and would be destroyed by takers.
God created givers; man makes takers. Period! Blessings…r
This article really hit the spot today; thanks so much Dan!
I really like this: “You’re a doormat if you adapt to others, but they don’t adapt to you.” It’s very true. Adapting to please/help others is great (and makes good business sense), but it has to be a two way street.
Hey there Dan,
I do give it my best effort not to come off as a doormat and I think I do a pretty swell job at it. I just find there is a fine balance between being a doormat and being a jerk (for me at least).
Any thoughts on this?
Liked your post and the doormat kind stage. Adapting to a work culture not digestible to your principles and self-respect leads to mediocracy. The solution is to fight back and insist on a desired response from the superiors if you feel right in your approach and the decision or leave such uninspiring work climate.
– People then will look at you chest [courage] than the feet.
I’d like to know when you apply the 100/0 principle. Which says that no matter what the other side does – you’re accepting 100% of the relationship. And the book states that if you keep giving 100%, the relationship is likely to improve. I’m not talking about an abusive relationship, but one worth keeping. Perhaps you’re only talking about professional relationships that are based on give and take – but I wonder also about those, if the 100/0 Principle can apply to the relationship itself, regardless of the actions one must take in the work or transactions taking place.
Thanks Joshua. Accept 100/0 relationship when the other person is incapable of making a contribution to the relationship. If someone is capable of contributing to the relationship but won’t, in my view, it’s abuse.
Great post hit the nail dead on.. I have Internet business and a day job as a Resident manger for a MHP and when I first started at the MHP all tenants thought that I was going to have an open door policy like the past manger and they could pound on my door at all hours day and night at 1st I was the doormat getting used to my new job. then the owner made a comment.
That I was not married to the job and I had every right to enforce my daily hours.
Well I did, and most of the tenants were very understanding and agreed with my new policy’s that I treated my day job as a business; But 2 tenants thought I should be at their disposal 24/7 the first 2 times they came by after hours I was the doormat and I was nice and explained this is my time and not to disturb me unless it was a major emergency.
The 3rd time I really had to be forceful and very blunt finally they got the message that I was not going to cater to their undignified whining..
Now after 4 years I finally got them trained to my business hours and they respect that.
So sometimes you just have to put the big ol foot down and say enough..
Thank you for this great blog I share it with my team.
Have a great day with much success.
You advice sounds like ” be difficult with your subordinates”. Well it does not improve one’s lacking charisma as a manager. Doormat is a doormat.