I’ve noticed my dog has better communication, sales and relationship skills than some people I know.
First a quick background so you can better understand my discovery. I grew up in the small town of Bear Creek, Alabama (population of less than 1,000) where we had “outside” dogs.
About six years ago, my wife brought home a puppy from a dog rescue shelter, and thus,Jimpsie Rose “Rosie” joined our family. I admit that having a small, indoor dog was a big change for me. It has been a good change.
It turns out it also brought great lessons on relationship building, sales and communication. Lessons from the dog, huh?? Well here they are:
5 Lessons from My Dog
Rosie is not a big barker, so if she speaks it really means something and we better pay attention.
Lesson #1: I need to spend less time talking and more time listening to clients, vendors, family and staff. And by saying less, my important messages are less likely to get lost in the clutter.
Rosie has only been around kindness and compassion, so she thinks any person or animal can be her friend. Some neighborhood big dogs initially did not care for her, even snapping and growling.
Her response? She was persistent in being friendly, adapting her techniques each time. Over time, every one of these big dogs “came around” and would play with her (even if they did not play with any other dogs).
Lesson #2: Relationships are not forced but develop by showing a consistent behavior over time that is appealing to others. They may just need time before they trust you and trust that you will be around each time. You can’t just be a trusted advisor or friend or reference as a result of only a couple of “sales calls” or an interview.
Rosie’s way of telling us she needs to go outside for “business” is to sit still and quietly by the door. But if she sits by the door, she ALWAYS really has to go, even if she just went. The only times she’s had “inside business” were when we’ve thought, “Oh, she just went out” and did not take her out again. In other words, we were not responsive to the honest and consistent message being given and we paid the price of having to clean it up.
Lesson #3: Listen to the client in their language and I usually will find they are telling me something important (even if they cannot exactly verbalize it). If I don’t listen correctly then it often comes back to me later as a bigger issue (or lost deal or struggling project).
I know some dogs are raised to obey based on force. We took the “coaching” approach with Rosie. I still make a point to be the pack leader but not an oppressor. Since the experience is enjoyable, she learns fast. She knows many of her toys by name and will retrieve them by name. She knows basics (Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Speak, etc.) although we have not worked on precision. She is a pet and family, not a hobby or a tool of competition.
Lesson #4: Progress is usually made when the parties involved all find it pleasant and mutually beneficial. Unpleasantness and force lead to delays, stalls and avoidance. And that is contrary to improvement and progress.
Periodically, Rosie just smells like a stinking dog. This means bath time! (She tolerates the bath but LOVES the hair dryer.)
Lesson #5: All things in life, including business, need attention to be what we desire. This can apply to training, contact with potential clients, follow-up calls, communication with employees, family activities or even just taking time to write.
I know that life surrounds us with so many examples and fresh perspectives that can lead to great reminders and lessons. Time with Rosie is a reward, even when she is not teaching me important business lessons. Considering the perspectives of others, including practicing this empathy skill with our pets, can help us find ways to communicate better with ourselves and with others.
In the future, perhaps we’ll talk about Daisy, the half-tailed cat, and her skills and techniques. She has the gifts of laser focus in her actions and persistence in her communication.