Cesar Millan, the famous dog whisperer, is successful working with dogs who behave disagreeably. He does this without hollering or hitting—instead he connects.
Cesar is mindful of two things dogs are asking of us:
1. Please see me—I’m a dog, a pack animal. Not a fish, not a parrot, not a human being.
2. Please see what I see—I see social order. When I know where I fit, I’m content and my behaviors reflect my comfort. When I don’t know where I fit—when it’s confusing—I’m anxious. I may bark, I may bite, I may pee on your favorite rug.
This knowledge guides Cesar’s work with dogs, and dogs respond constructively to him.
Now, people aren’t dogs. But we too want to be seen. And we too want others to see what we see—especially when we disagree.
So the next time you’re in an argument with your teenager, or your landlord, or your boss, and you’re hoping instead for a productive dialogue, try connecting first:
1. See that person (give her as much attention, acceptance, appreciation as you can).
2. Try to see what she sees (listen to her first, and listen intently).
Then, allow what you learn to inform your conversation, and open the door for a constructive response.
P.S. If you have a dog at home, she or he will be happy to practice with you.