Well-intentioned people sometimes do unkind things

Kids freak Grace out. Their quick and aggressive movements scare her; she doesn’t know what their intentions are. Based on her street experiences as a pup, kids were known to torment dogs so she’s wary for good reason. In order to protect herself, she growls and bares her teeth hoping to get them to back off. We saw this play out last night when good friends were over for dinner and their active and adorable toddler tried to pet Grace a tad too harshly. It’s nerve-wracking to see Grace expose her teeth and the child gets an impression that Grace is a mean dog—understandably! She’s really not mean-spirited but she’s acting out in a mean way, for sure.

I see this within organizations all the time. Well-intentioned people sometimes do unkind things. If they feel threatened, they might do something to protect their own interests. I’m sure you can think of a number of examples, things like stealing a great idea you had or gossiping about a mistake you made on a project.

If that happens, what do you do? Give that person the silent treatment? Let your frustration fester? It’s certainly a natural reaction to get angry and pull away. But you need to address it constructively. Have a calm and respectful conversation, letting them see your perspective on the situation. Then the chances are greatly increased that similar occurrences won’t happen in the future. If you let it pass, you’re part of the problem. Be a part of the solution.

We do see progress with Grace handling stressful situations with more confidence. About an hour after snarling at the precious toddler visiting us last night, Grace was peacefully napping in her bed. Clayton was running through the living room and unintentionally fell right into her bed alongside her! But instead of snapping, she opened one eye and looked over as if to say: “Watch out next time, would ya?” Then she closed her eyes and went back to her nap. I guess she decided it wasn’t worth getting scared about.

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  1. didiwright on March 22, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Kids freak George out for the same reasons. The younger they are, the more weary he is. Other dogs can cause the same reaction, but not all of them. He must sense something that triggers it, and his response is always similar to Grace’s – defensive aggression. It’s all an act, though, as he’s a sweet creature who would not fight his way out of a situation (we’ve got to defend him if he gets attacked whilst we’re out). He does look vicious when he does that, I must admit, which is hard to imagine from the photos on my blog 🙂
    That photo of Grace is really, really sweet. I often find George in the same position. Judging by the similarities between him and Grace, they must be soul-mates.

    • PeopleSense Consulting LLC on March 22, 2011 at 11:59 am

      It’s great you defend George when it is warranted as it must be comforting to him when it happens. I bet some employees would like to have their manager act accordingly in the workplace, too!

      George’s photo on your blog is gorgeous — Grace would be lucky to be his soul mate! If anyone wants to read about George and learn about healthy dog diets, I recommend you check out https://mylittledog.wordpress.com/.

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