Being clear about how you want to treat others in a relationship helps you to move towards more effective styles and avoid passive or aggressive behaviours.

Ask yourself questions like “What types of relationships do I want with other people?”

McKay et al provide an exercise for identifying interpersonal values and assessing how they match up with our actual behaviour. The first part involves writing down behaviours that you tend to do which end up making you feel bad about yourself, things that emotionally damage yourself or other person (e.g. “I get angry as soon as anyone criticises me”). Include ‘sins of omission’ – things that you think you should have done (e.g. “I don’t say thank you when this person does what I want”, or “I don’t let people know when I can see they are hurting”).

The second part of this exercise involves writing down a set of basic rules about what you and others are entitled to in a relationship (e.g. “Its important to me to hear that someone I love is hurting”, or “I want the other person to know that I am concerned with their feelings”). Compare the two lists and think about whether your interpersonal strategies match your values. Which core values do you violate most frequently? How do your relationships do when you violate your values?