How my ego got in the way of the best decision

Showing off her newly trimmed nails done by our vet

I kept trying. And trying. But it just wasn’t working. After untold number of attempts, Grace continued to have the same message for me: Do. Not. Cut. My. Nails.

Some of you may recall an earlier post where I lamented about how I have failed to successfully trim Grace’s nails. It’s always been a goal of mine to accomplish it. It’s not just the inconvenience of carting us off to the vet’s office every few months for the clipping. Or the added cost of going to the vet versus a groomer since, for some reason, she doesn’t like groomers either.

Mostly I’ve felt that if she would allow me to trim her nails, it would infer a greater level of trust from her that I was yearning for. It’s not like she doesn’t trust me, so this was sort of an unnecessary request.

Over the last month, I’ve been trying new options to nail the job, so to speak. I’d leave the clippers on the table hoping that would desensitize her. Yeah, right. Like that had any hope of working….

I gave her a higher dose of a doggie downer treat, meant to relax her. Actually, one day I think that helped. It was early in my new quest for success and before she had much idea that I was really serious about this, and she allowed me to hold her paw long enough to snip a quick one.

But that was the end of it. No matter where, when, or how I attempted to get close to her, she said no. So I gave up and called the vet. Off we went yesterday for our normal routine. While we were in the waiting room, I thought she was going to shake outside of her body she was trembling so hard, but once in the “patient” room, she calmed down and relented to the clipping as normal. I think all my antics over the past month had her even more freaked out because she’s not normally so shaky as we wait.

Why does she let the vet do this and not me? I have no idea. It makes me a little jealous.

I could never get this close to her with a nail clipper in my hand!

But I had to admit defeat and realize that I was making the situation worse than better. Yes, going to the vet is a bit of a pain. But it’s not the end of the world and I was motivated more by my needs than Grace’s to accomplish this goal.

In our workplaces and managerial roles, it’s a good idea to take stock of the projects and everyday jobs that you ask others to do. Explore the real reason for those tasks. Who is really to benefit? Is it more for what you need or want?

All activities should be driven by things that will ultimately create success with your customers. That could be an efficiency improvement or something that will enhance the quality of your product or service. In healthcare, that means focusing on the patient, for example.

My ego was getting in the way of the best decision for Grace. I wanted to “win” and be the one who she trusted. I put my needs before hers. Grace had me nailed and knew better. If your team is resisting some task, it could be a sign you’re not asking them the right question.

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  1. Laurie Bartolo on November 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Great post. This is a timely topic for me because I have been considering trimming Webster’s toenails myself, instead of hauling him in to the vet’s office. We moved out to the country recently and I’m just far away enough from the vet now for it to be a long trip for a nail trim. So I figured, I could, and maybe even should, just be doing this dreaded task myself. I’ll have to think this one through again, and this time, through the lens you’ve offered here.

    I really enjoy how you tie these things back to the workplace. I worked in human resources for many years, and really could’ve used some of these gems while dealing with all of the office drama. 🙂

    • PeopleSense Consulting LLC on November 13, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      Laurie, thanks for your comment. Too funny about the office drama! I have so much respect for good HR professionals — when they are truly working to help remove all the drama — which I suspect you were good at. Good luck with your decision with Webster. I’m feeling much better about going to the vet after reading LeeAnn’s comment!

  2. LeeAnn on November 13, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I too love how you tie our interactions with our beloved pets to interactions in the workplace. It is yet another reminder to me of how much these wonderful family members can teach us – if we are open to learning. As for the toenails, I have always been a big chicken about those – and let our vet do them. I am too afraid of hurting her and drawing blood – in which case I fear I might faint.

    • PeopleSense Consulting LLC on November 13, 2011 at 5:01 pm

      LeeAnn, you always make me laugh! That’s an aspect (fainting) I hadn’t considered, but I have gotten light-headed around blood before, so now I’m feeling great about going to the vet! Thank you! (And yes, I love how animals add to our lives in so many important ways.)

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide on November 13, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    My one dog won’t even let the vet do it!

  4. Happy.Bark.Days on November 14, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Dogs certainly do not hide their emotions, so if they’re unhappy in a particular situation it will show! In the past, Maple never failed to express her discontent whenever we would drop her off at the groomers, but my justification was that the groomers would be able to give Maple a professional-looking cut that I could never achieve on my own. Eventually, I had to put aside my desire for an aesthetically-beautiful dog (after all, Maple is not a show dog… it shouldn’t matter if her ears are a little lopsided). We now groom Maple ourselves at home and she is a much happier pup. Her coat may not always come out consistently even, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s still our same lovable gal!

    P.s. Nail-clipping is still a bit of a challenge for us, but I recently discovered that covering Maple’s eyes gently with my hand or her blankie helps to calm her down. And, of course, her liver treats are never too far from her olfactory radar 😉

    • PeopleSense Consulting LLC on November 14, 2011 at 9:06 am

      Yes, one of the beautiful things about dog communication is that you know how they feel — another lesson we can surely benefit from. Thanks for stopping by — and for the suggestions of shielding the eyes and of course those yummy liver treats!

  5. judi on November 14, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Robin, Loved this post. I have three Basset Hounds and one of them has Sha Ne Ne nails (tacky stripper) None of my dogs will let me cut their nails. But when I take them to the groomer they practically hold their little paws up and let them do it like they were at the nail salon.
    But is is a major hassle to take three dogs to the groomer especially when one of them really needs to go every week. I would gladly pay someone to make house calls.

    • PeopleSense Consulting LLC on November 14, 2011 at 10:43 am

      Judi, this is so funny — how your dogs behave differently in front of the groomer. Reminds me of “interview” behavior versus “real job performance” behavior that can so often be very different! And what a great idea for house calls. There certainly would be a market. I’m learning how many other people have issues with nail cutting!

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