Respect the Dog, Respect the Body Language

I love big dogs.  I have had a Great Pyrenees and German Sheppard/Husky mix and currently have a Lab mix and Pit mix.  I am a person that prefers big dogs.

There are three exceptions: Bud the Pug, Brutus the Terrier and Lexi the Puggle.  They are mine, too, but the only exception to small dogs.  I am not a fan of small dogs.  It has been my experience that the little, tiny dogs I have come across are yip-yips and noisy.  I affectionately call them foo-foo dogs.

The other day I took Luke, my Lab mix who is in the accompanying picture, on a walk.  Luke is a big puppy.  He may be over five years old, but he still lives in his world of being a six pound, six month old puppy who is completely oblivious to his strength or size.

We are still leash training.

He was doing very well and I was quite proud, until we saw a foo-foo dog.

Luke is under the impression that ever person we meet and ever dog we see is there for the sole purpose of playing with him.  No exceptions.

Well before the foo-foo dog approached, I began to prepare him for the pass.  When the woman approached, I had Luke sitting, pulled up on his leash, positioned myself between me and her/her foo-foo dog, petting him and repeatedly saying, “No, we are not going to play, good boy stay.”

This could clearly be heard: “No.”

Apparently, not by foo-foo dog lady.

She walked up, brought her dog to Luke and asked him if he wanted to say hi.

Of course my dog wants to say hi.  He wants to play and in doing so there is a very good chance that he will pick up foo-foo dog by the gruff, give it a “love shake” and a little toss.

I, on the other hand, did not want Luke to say hi.  I was making this as clear as I possibly could with my body language.

Once the calamity ensued, I had to tell her that he was not used to small dogs and I did not want him to play rough (or ruff if I want to get cute about it).  I wanted to be very careful in how I told her to basically get her foo-foo dog away because us dog people are sensitive.  You can insult me, but do not insult my dog. That finally sunk in and she pulled foo-foo back and I told her how cute he was and thank you for letting them say hi.  Again, us dog people are sensitive, there is protocol.

As a Career Coach and helper of those looking to advance in their career, I tend to take everyday events and relate them to job searching, interviewing, networking etc.  This is no exception.

I would not have hired this woman for a job.

She clearly missed numerous signals and clues.  How often do we do this in an interviewing or networking situation?

When at a networking event and speaking to someone, do you notice them backing up?  Do you continue to lean forward?  They are giving you a clear indication that you are invading their space and would like it back.  During an interview do you find the interviewer lower their head, start to shake it “no” slowly and avert eye contact?  This is an indication that they are not in agreement or liking what you are saying.  Do you continue to talk anyway without clarifying your message?

On the other hand, when talking to another person, do you find them leaning in and nodding their head slightly “yes”?  This is an indication that they are interested in what you have to say, are you continuing the conversation?

It is important to be aware of your body language to make sure you are sending the right message; however, just as important is to tune in to your audience’s body language.

If you are a hand talker, you are probably aware of the movements of your hand as to not overwhelm your audience.  However, if the person you are talking to is also a hand talker, it is okay to mimic them a bit and use your hands.  This shows symmetry and alignment.

There are numerous articles on body language, some time ago I wrote a blog Don’t Let Your Body Sabotage Your Poker Face.  When reading any article on body language, be sure to utilize the information on how to control yours, as well as interpret others.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

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