Before Maggie there was Rebel, the best dog in the world (according to my husband, Scott!). Here is Rebel’s story: Scott wanted a new dog; I did not! But instead of just saying no, I decided to try to manipulate the situation so that I wouldn’t look like the bad guy. I created a list of requirements that I knew Scott would never be able to meet in his search for a new dog. He wanted a registered yellow Lab, so my first requirement included ONLY getting the dog from the animal shelter. No one ever drops off a dog with papers! Right? Next requirements -- the new dog must be kennel-trained, be house-broken, and be able to follow simple commands. The new dog must already have the first round of shots and be fixed. See where I’m going with my list!? No dog would ever fulfill all of my requirements, thus we would not get a new dog! But -- you know where this is going -- one day at lunch, Scott decided to visit the Bay Area Pet Adoptions shelter (a much smaller facility in San Leon, Texas) to see the available dogs. As he entered the building, he opened the door for a family bringing in a yellow Lab. And the rest is history -- that dog (with registration papers, kennel-trained, house-broken, trained to sit and stay, with two rounds of shots, and neutered) became Rebel Hardegree, a beloved member of our family. From that lunch visit on, Scott and Rebel shared a unique and powerful bond. From daily training at 4:30am to hunting weekends to swimming in our pool, I’m pretty sure that Scott loved Rebel more than me or our children. After all, Rebel was the only one of us who would jump into frigid water to put a duck in his mouth to bring back to Scott. Even Maggie is smart enough not to do that! And after all the eaten Legos, holes in the backyard, and two different encounters with a skunk (he just wouldn’t learn!), I even grew to love Rebel. As the big brother, Rebel taught Maggie how to swim in the pool, how to eat ice, and how to get on the bed. But we lost him way too soon. He is now in heaven with Cookie and Taffy, but he lives on at our land as Scott planted a tree in Rebel’s honor.
So what communication lessons can Rebel’s story teach us? First, don’t try to manipulate a situation. As you can see, it just doesn’t work and can lead to miscommunication and lost productivity. If you can’t get that needed information to a colleague in a timely manner, just be honest. If you are confused or don’t understand something in the workplace, ask for clarification. If you don’t agree with someone, share your concerns in the most professional way. Next, sometimes you may need to be the bad guy. Although Rebel’s story had a happy ending, I should have shared my concerns about getting a new dog and worked with Scott to figure out the best thing for our family at that time. But make sure that your concerns are credible and valid and be prepared to support your ideas with evidence. Finally (and this is a lesson I work to learn again and again), don’t always respond negatively to new ideas. I should have been more open to the idea of getting another pet, but instead, I immediately was opposed without really thinking about the situation. In your professional and personal life, be willing to listen before you make a decision. Before deciding if that project is too expensive or if that idea will take too long to successfully develop, try to find out as much information as possible to help you make the right choice. And be willing to change your mind when faced with new information or ideas. etc Strategies believes that sharing an honest, well-thought, supported response or concern will always enhance and improve communication.
One last note -- guess who again wants a new dog?