What’s Your Pavlovian Dog Trick?

Luke's gameHaving four dogs I have a certain aversion to a few things:


Allstate commercials on Spotify and DiGorno commercials on TV


Both of these contain the sound of doorbells which instantly triggers a reaction of spaz-barking fits from dog number four.


I also have to be very careful of turning my back on dog number three – the lab mix.  He takes it as an invitation of the game of surprising me by crouching down to walk between my legs then standing up to see if he can knock me off balance while looking up at me with a big goofy dog face radiating “Hi! Notice me!”  (That would be him playing the game in the picture attached)


I have noticed it is not just dogs (or my dogs) that have this type of Pavlovian response to certain things.


When I hear John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” I crave a hotdog – because it reminds me of being at a baseball game.


When I see a Dairy Queen commercial for a Blizzard I am instantly transported back to 16 when I worked there when the Blizzards were first introduced and having to serve each one upside down.


When I hear someone say they are a “people person” I instantly have to bite my tongue to keep myself from replying, “as opposed to what – a dog person?”


Those are a few of my Pavlov responses.


Everyone has their triggers.  When you are job searching you can become conditioned to respond to certain circumstances or phrases with automatic responses. 


Tell me about yourself.

What are you looking for?

Why are you looking for a new job?

Why did you leave your last position?

What do you do for a living?

Who are you looking to connect with?


These can trigger immediate responses without much thought – just the automated response.  Automated responses lack individuality, thought and emotion.  These are not things you want to highlight in a job interview or networking opportunity.


Next time you hear one of these questions stop yourself from responding in your Pavlov way!  Take a breath and start fresh.  Adapt it to you environment, person you are speaking to and the point you want to make.


There is no pat answer that will appeal or satisfy every audience therefore you should not have an automatic response.


You should have a baseline, a framework for what you want to say; however it should never be memorized or too rehearsed.  Keep it fresh and relevant for the person directly in front of you asking the question.  This will help ensure you make a much more engaged connection.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW



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