Management & Leadership lessons from my dog – Part I: Communication

Please allow me to introduce a very distinguished (as you can notice by the neck tie and the grey temples) guest blogger to present this topic: my dog Slider.

Studying Human Behavior

She has a proven track record of interaction with her peers and with her bosses and is highly qualified to talk about effective management and leadership.
In today’s article, the first of a series of 3, she will address the topic of communication between the boss and the followers. Here she comes:

Hello dear readers!

After years of interacting with other dogs and people, as well as by hearing the tone of my boss’s voice when he talks about managers and companies, I believe that our simple canine wisdom could be of great value for business leaders and leaders to be.

I now will review a few very important aspects of effective communication.

Call me by my name!
That is the most effective way for me to know that I am the one being talked to. Calling my name will get my attention, and then I am more inclined to listen to the order. People have this strange way of not calling each by their names that much, unless most of you are all called Hey? I do not know. I believe it makes communication a lot more effective. Moreover, it is super friendly to be called by your name. It gives you the feeling that someone cares about you.

Clarity
We, dogs, are not particularly sophisticated when it comes to read between the lines, so it is utmost critical that your message be very clear. If it is not, we will not understand it, and of course we will not do what you instruct us to do.
In order to be effective, just give us simple and short orders. In most cases just one word will do, like “Sit!”, “Stay!”, “Enough!” or “No bark!”.
The worst you can do is to start giving several orders at the same time, or gesticulate and shout, like unfortunately I have seen in many occasions. This just confuses us, and sometimes even freaks us out. We just wonder what on earth the boss’s problem is, and since we are not sure what s/he means, we just do nothing or do the wrong thing, which in turns seems to frustrate him/her. Poor communication. Not good.

Consistency
This is one of the most important aspect of effective communication. Remember we are simple beings and we need to be trained into patterns.
In order to be effective, your instructions must not leave any room for confusion. If one day, your order means one thing and the next day it means something else, do not expect us to figure out what it will mean. Then, we will act according to what we believe is requested from us. The sad thing is that we will be reprimanded, while you were the one who mixed up the message.
In the same area, your actions have to be consistent with your instructions. Just as an example, and you know we like to beg and try to get some treat from you once in a while and we can really cute at doing it. But, we also can understand “no!”. However, if you give us what we want once, we will expect you to repeat that. You create a pattern. Inconsistency will teach us bad behavior, begging is this case.

Patience
If you want to train us to do what you want, it might sometimes take some time. Sorry, but our brain is a bit small and before we get the message, we will need to learn from you.
Patience will be necessary for you, and if you want us to do what you instruct us to, you will need to repeat several times, and also send us the right feedback to let us know how we are doing.
Shouting at us will not really work, as we do not see this as the alpha way of communicating. In our world, this is more what the wounded weak dog does. All you will do with that is to scare and to confuse us. That will be your fault if we get stressed and neurotic. We will end up barking for all reasons and even become aggressive.
On the other hand, when you choose the right approach, your patience will be rewarded: we will become obedient and respectful, but neither stressed, nor scared.

Importance of body language
Sorry, but we are simple creatures, and we do not have much of a vocabulary. We just understand a few words. We are pack animals and most of our messages have to do with physical interaction.
In order to be effective in your communication, you will have to be short and to the point. Do not give us a long lecture, because we will lose focus after the third word.
To enhance your message, you will achieve a lot by combining short instructions with a clear and consistent body language. Do you know that you actually can lead us by only communicating with us in a non-verbal manner? This is true, and it is more powerful that all those long boring tirades we sometimes have to listen to, but we cannot runaway because we are stuck with that leash!
From our end, most of our communication is non-verbal. Therefore, you, as our boss, need to be able to read the signals that we send and deal accordingly and properly with them in order to lead the pack harmoniously!

Well, people, this is all for this time. I will return later with Part II: Recruiting the Boss.

(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the dog only, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.)

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

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