I got my first Golden Retriever in 1998. He was such a playful pup and seemed very pleased to be in my home. When he was almost a year old, I decided to get him a playmate. I couldn’t take those sad brown eyes watching me leave for work any longer.
Since dogs can be territorial, I orchestrated having my ‘son’ meet his new little ‘sister’ (another Golden) in a neutral place – the sidewalk in front of my neighbor’s house. Already I was trying to avoid emotional hijacks for them. Being that she was only eight weeks old, she obviously posed no threat to him and they happily sniffed noses and accepted one another immediately.
As we came into the house, I quickly showed our new addition where she could find water and food so she felt at ease. It must have worked because the emotion that she displayed most was curiosity, not apprehension. Curiosity turned to confidence and within the hour she was taunting big brother to play.
He’d been holding back a little, lying and waiting to see just what this little fluff ball was up to. But when she pounced on his head and let out a high-pitched ‘ruff’, he must have thought, “Game on!” He jumped up in delight and returned her challenge with his own deep ‘RUFF’. Frightened by the sudden movement and the loud noise, she immediately retreated with a tiny squeal and ran for cover.
Surprised by her reaction, he looked at me as if to say, “What did I do?” He then lay back down and put his head between his front paws and waited. After a minute of reassurance from me, she ventured out from the haven of my legs and gingerly headed toward him. Exercising what had to be great restraint on his part, he allowed her to bat his nose and bounce around his head for at least two or three minutes. He then began to gently push her with his nose – just enough to engage in the playfulness but not enough to make her feel threatened. And their 14-year love story began.
As I look at their interactions from an emotional intelligence perspective, I see he was demonstrating social awareness in recognizing her fear, empathy to understand she needed to feel safe and self regulation in being patient to allow her to regain confidence. As a result, he set the stage for their relationship to grow and solidify.
How often in our business relationships do we voice the equivalent of a loud “RUFF” and are unaware of the impact? Why don’t we take the time to be empathetic and apply some self regulation to ensure the working relationship will prosper? If dogs can do this, why can’t we?
Thank you for reading. Please remember it’s your choice to make it a great day.