Animals seem to bring out the best in us; in fact I’m often amazed at how kind, tolerant and generous people seem to be around the most cantankerous or meanest of animals. Typically I hear comments like “There is no such thing as a bad dog, just a bad owner.” In other words people tend to cut bad dogs lots of slack, reasoning the dog’s behavior is really not its fault.
However the same folks will turn around and bristle at any unkind word or become annoyed if they perceive someone disagrees with their opinions. This dichotomy in behavior is what prompted my blog, it really is time we start treating people like dogs!
Which means exactly what, you might ask. Let me explain…
When a Dog Bites
If a dog bites or snaps most of us assume it has had some dreadful past, or at the very least it’s frightened and reacting the only way it knows how. We rethink, or reframe what it did to create a more acceptable account of its behavior. So why not, when humans snap at us, don’t’ we start reframing their language, cutting them a little slack as well. After all we haven’t a clue what their days have been like or what they may be worried about. Reframing could sound like “So you’re saying you’re very unhappy with what I did on the Smith account. Help me understand what you mean because I felt it answered all the requirements.” We’re not accusing or defending, only restating to get clarity and open up the dialogue for a more useful conversation.
When a Dog Chews
If a dog chews up items or does damages, it’s often from frustration, uncertainty or confusion. We want to stop the behavior but at the same time we realize there’s more than just our version of the story. From our perspective the dog ate the homework, management report or pair of brand new shoes. From the dog’s point of view he was protecting confidential papers by doing the shredding, or cleaning up a messy pile of paper or getting rid of the old, tasty shoes. If a human messes up we immediately place blame; he was irresponsible or didn’t think the project through or was just plain rude. Remember there are always multiple stories, and one person’s version or belief is different from the next. Let’s look at the other person’s story before we rush to judgment; it saves many hours of frustration and helps us reach resolution much sooner.
When a Dog Won’t Let Go
Finally if a dog grabs your favorite belt and sees it as a chew toy, he won’t let go…..it’s a game to him. We laugh and distract the dog long enough to get back our item. If someone just won’t let go of an issue and is hard headed and belligerent, we don’t give an inch. Why not step back, get our egos out of the way and realize that most issues are no longer “either or” but “either, or, and.” Let’s use the “and” in order to realize there is always a third alternative.
Kindness cannot be overrated, yet it seems to be something we often reserve for animals and close friends, not for those everyday folks who annoy us. Wouldn’t it be great if we could decide to treat everyone we meet today with the same kindness and tolerance that most of us give generously to animals in our lives? What a difference it could make!