Monthly Archives: February 2012

That Black-haired Beauty and I: She learns to Communicate

For a dog that didn’t really bark for over four years of her life, Arwen’s communications are really branching out. It wasn’t long ago I wrote about her having learned to bark to go in or go out. Now it has become even more sophisticated. The bark has become a low growl and if that isn’t noticed or paid attention to, after several growls you get the ‘sharp bark’. She has even extended this to wanting the door open from one room to another (we keep them shut in the winter), wanting walks or foods, and other things she gets impatient about.

Talk about being DIFFICULT!

Well folks, if you really think about it, that ain’t so far from the truth when it comes to difficult people. They learn new ‘tricks’; they even learn to growl and bark in the best possible way to get your attention and your compliance.

Here’s something to think about – how do you reinforce their behavior?

Because, unfortunately, we do.

The ONLY constructive way to change a difficult person’s behavior to you is to change your behavior (reaction/response) to them.

Typically we react, and reactions often take the form of ‘Fight’ or ‘Flight,’ both of which in turn tends to reinforce exactly what the difficult person was after in the first place – getting to you.

Ever wonder what they would do if you said,

                “Thank you.” Or…

                “You’re absolutely right. What can WE do about this?” Or…

                “What’s that again?” Or…

Anything different that isn’t negative can work. It puts them out of their comfort zone and they have to regroup. Use different tactics enough and they are likely to figure out you just aren’t worth the trouble. They may not change their overall behavior, but they won’t bother you any more.

Of course, not all situations are the same, so you do have to find the most positive, self-supportive, kind way to change directions.

Now there is one problem of course – at least from my perspective – Arwen doesn’t speak English (unless, of course she actually wants to). Being cute does go a long way though.


Joe Koob

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Filed under That Black-haired Beauty and I, Understanding Difficult People