Pamela Sue has many ways of getting me going in the morning. Today it was a cup of fine French coffee and a delicious home made apple and cinnamon muffin. As I enjoyed the taste and aroma, Kelly, our beautiful Irish Red Setter came up to me, wagging her tail.
Kelly wags her tail a lot. Often, as she slowly awakens from a deep sleep, her tail beats softly on the floor, even before her eyes open. She is simply happy to be alive.
As I reached down to stroke her I noticed that her tail stopped wagging, not because of a problem, but because she liked it. When I had finished, off went the tail again, nineteen to the dozen. So we repeated the pattern a few times, each time I touched her, her tail stopped, each time I stopped there was a flurry of tail messages.
With my touch her attention had shifted internally as she became still and receptive. As my touch was withdrawn her attention shifted back to external communication. Her wags reflected her happiness and rewarded me for my attention.
I have noticed that sometimes when I call her she does not come straight away. Is she being disobedient or is she simply internalised, not really aware of the outside world? I know that occassionally when this happens, and I call or whistle more forcefully, she suddenly looks startled as if she had previously been unaware of me. At these times, is it her responsibility to tell me she is internalised, or is the onus on me to recognise her state?
If I am just focussed on myself I may get angry or frustrated – has she caused that? In her world she was just having a quiet sniff when suddenly she is confronted by an angry human being – how strange it must seem!
Do you think this might also be true for people? Maybe a rude or disobedient child is simply internalised, exploring some unseen inner world. Maybe a colleague is simply internalised when you think they are ignoring you. Maybe a client is simply internalised when you think they are being unresponsive.
Perhaps we need to actively work at discovering what is going on inside the other person, we can not simply assume that they will tell us. A friend of mine, Kevin Kingsland, recently wrote “It is an enormous and sometimes fatal arrogance to expect the other person to inform us. Understanding is a constructive process and successful people work hard at it. “
It seems to me that most dogs work harder at understanding humans that most humans do. Maybe we should rub each others tummies and wag our tails a bit harder. Paying attention might just pay dividends.
Posted by Nicholas Moore 12:52:02 am