Many years ago, Chuck and I fell in love with Cesar Millan. And while we don’t exactly have the best behaving dog on the planet, we have tried really hard to incorporate The Dog Whisperer’s tips and philosophy into the training of our dog Corey. One particular tenant of his approach stuck with us and is actually a really powerful lesson for life – whether you have a dog or not. Caesar tells us that we should project a relaxed, “calm assertive” energy. You need to show confidence but in a non-intense, non-intimidating kind of way. It will put your dog at ease and at the same time clearly communicate what we want.
It is based on the idea that your dog will pick up and actually mirror back your feelings. If you are stressing out about something then you are projecting a nervous or anxious energy that can come across in body language or tone of voice and it can affect those around you (canine or human species). It can make them stressed or anxious or react in some other negative way to that negative energy.
Just think about any relationship you have with a friend, a spouse, a child, an employee – someone in your “pack”. Can you think of a time when you brought a negative, nervous or anxious energy into a situation? Maybe you were stressed out or in a hurry or maybe you were just distracted and the situation escalated and just went terribly wrong. Or think of a time when you were around someone stressed – did it make you stressed, too?
We naturally sense that kind of negative energy and take it on ourselves, when it comes from a member of our “pack”. As a parent, I often see my kids playing back the behavior I am modeling. Do I want my kids to be stressed and hurried? Frustrated and short-tempered? Do I want them to let fear stand in their way? No! That’s the last thing I want for them. I want them to be happy and comfortable, relaxed and confident; calm-assertive. And I have to model the behavior, so they can mirror it back to me. You’d be surprised in how many situations this is the case.
We can sometimes miss our impact on others and not just in what we do but in HOW we do it. The HOW matters. If we adopt a calm assertive stance – in our body language, in our tone, in our choice of language, in our total energy – we can be understood and respected. And we can create the kind of environment where no one barks, bites, or chews.