It might seem a strange truth but getting a puppy has improved my career by a long way. Before I went out on my own in the working world, I hadn’t given much thought to my professional behaviour. I always had my boss and my peers around to prioritise for me. Becoming self-employed and taking on as much work as possible was incredibly chaotic – until I got a puppy. Here’s how getting a puppy improved my professional behaviour…
The first year of a puppy’s life is all about training. Whilst we taught Sansa her new tricks, I was also learning new things. I also became more mindful that the people around me might be new to the certain tasks I was assigning them. That made me a better delegator and more patient when waiting on things. I was also more patient with myself, recognising that I had a lot to learn in a short space of time and taking time to figure it all out was okay.
We learned early on that the only way Sansa was going to fall in line was if we set the precedent that we were alpha and she was not. The reinforcement that followed was even more important: consistent positive and negative reinforcement to reward or discourage her behaviour. That’s when I started to look at my behaviour patterns and those of the people around me. I realised that humans can be conditioned to. That means that you can actively set the schedule and the precedent moving forward, to suit you.
Setting a Precedent and Reinforcing it
I used to receive tens of emails from clients a week, making demands with short deadlines and, frankly, seeing me as their therapist for everything work-related. I regularly received Skype calls from some, bitching about their day! My weekend, even, would be packed with emails! Enough was enough and I realised I needed to set a precedent everywhere in my life, not just with my puppy.
I stopped answering every single email and would, instead, only address the person at the end of the day in one neat email. After consistently doing this for a couple of weeks, people soon learned my patterns of when I would be online. They began to stop sending multiple one liners and only email me once. I then only showed myself online twice a day and stopped reinforcing people’s idea that I could be at their beck and call. The result? I’m no longer the out of office therapist!
I’m not saying that everybody should get a puppy to become better at managing people. But it is time to evaluate your professional habits! Maybe you’ll spot something that’s been annoying you and turn the situation in your favour!
A Sansa Gallery
Featured image: kaboompics.com