Last summer I met a dog named Jerry.
I met him when he was just a puppy. Full of energy and enthusiasm, he ran at full speed towards me, then towards other people.
He was adorable and sweet-spirited. There was just one problem:
Jerry didn’t understand the concept of not running directly into people’s legs and feet, to avoid getting stepped on or tripped over.
He wasn’t trained.
Five months later, Jerry has grown into a big dog. He’s still a puppy at heart. He has that same enthusiastic spirit. Except now he’s larger and can jump on you. He still runs fast, and he still runs directly into people’s legs and feet.
“He literally doesn’t know how to walk,” I observed.
A properly trained dog would understand how to walk (or run, for that matter) without crashing into people as they walk.
If Jerry knew how to walk, he could get to his destination without causing chaos.
Recently I heard news that Jerry had been “stepped on by a cow.” Or kicked by a cow… nobody actually saw what happened, so who knows? Nonetheless, Jerry broke his leg. He had to have emergency surgery. His owners are keeping him at the vet for a few weeks until he heals.
Because I have a soft spot for animals in my heart, I cried upon hearing the news that he’d been hurt.
I imagined all sorts of potential scenarios, as to how it might have happened.
Why am I writing about this dog? Because I have great compassion for him…as well as all animals. I’m very patient and gentle with him (unlike how I am with humans sometimes).
Having watched Cesar Milan’s fascinating TV show, “The Dog Whisperer” years ago, I know that with dogs, you have to ignore bad behavior and praise good behavior.
That’s how they get trained.
It’s the same with humans. Has somebody ever made a “mistake” or done something to “wrong” you, and you went off on them? That was the equivalent of telling them, “More of that type of behavior, please.”
Today humans are starved for compassion. We have to teach ourselves how to ignore bad behavior from each other. Otherwise, we condition, reward, and reinforce bad behavior.
One of the most compassionate things you can do for for another person is to stop rewarding them for bad behavior. Attention of any kind (including negative attention) is a form of reward.
When I say “bad” behavior, I mean dysfunctional, unhealthy, unproductive behavior that serves no one.
Some people are like little Jerry’s. They don’t know how to walk. They don’t know how to be on time for appointments…or make enough sales in their business…or create successful outcomes…or whatever it is they have no clue about.
They’re literally not trained.
Does that mean we have to berate them? Yell at them? Judge them? Scold them? Shame them for it? No.
It DOES, however, mean we should have compassion towards them.
Ways you can have compassion in business:
- If someone sends you hateful, hurtful words… don’t reply. Respond by giving them silence.
- If someone insists on being lazy, or not following directions, refuse to work with them. (Or refuse to let them be your customer.)
- If someone disrespects you, don’t try to convince them of how you deserve respect. Simply don’t engage. Save your energy for those who are healthy.
- Be your best self. That way, you model healthy behavior for others.
- Consider this line from A Course in Miracles: “I am never upset for the reason I think.”
By doing this, you gently “train” people on what’s acceptable, and what’s not.
Happy Sunday, and enjoy your week!