Ever had a friend who complains about their terrible boss? Are they the type of boss who seems to only come over to them when he or she is upset about something? Do they like to snap off orders in that not-so-nice way? There might be something that can be done to help keep the peace and at least make your interactions a little more pleasant–with a bit of dog-training philosophy applied, of course.
Curious about how to train your boss to be less cranky?
Keep in mind that everyone is different -dogs and people have very different personalities and reactions, so your mileage may vary on the effectiveness and extent of behavior modification you are expecting to achieve. This also means different techniques or approaches may have to be explored before something works for you, but the principal is the same.
Become consistently associated with positive interaction.
What does this mean? Short and sweet: it means you want to be a good thing that goes right in your boss’s day in a consistent manner. When they look at you, you want them to think good things.
In dog-world, this normally means all good things come from you, which can range depending on the dog. This can mean treats, food, toys, and just general interactions like petting. If they notice that you give them good things for approaching you, they are going to associate you with good things.
This may seem questionable in wording, but I assure you, no shenanigans are happening to give your boss happy thoughts. What can you do to achieve this? Be a pleasant person to talk to and interact with. This can range from just smiling and saying hello, bringing them a cup of coffee, or maybe offering a to run a few errands for your boss. Have you tried asking how their family is today?
Consistency breeds familiarity and comfort. Having a routine set will help calm the nerves.
Imagine if your three-a-day meal times dropped to just a one-a-day snack at midnight? Routines are important and help alleviate stress! If you know something is coming, you prepare for the situation and reduce anxiety, helping to keep a calmer mind than just finding out last-minute and having your normal schedule interrupted.
In dog-world, learning new things and working in unfamiliar environments can be stressful–and in times of high-stress, the dog may be looking to take out its frustration on something. As with people, dogs handle stress differently. On one end of the spectrum, some might whine and curl up in defeat, while in the other end of the spectrum, others may get defensive and bite. Dogs need routine to help cope with stress!
A manager, boss, or leader can easily be placed in high stress situations due to responsibility and pressure placed on them, just like the above mentioned working dogs. When put in these scenarios, having approachable body language, and familiar routines can be a comfort to them. If your boss knows that you are reliable and they can find you easily if something is going very wrong, you become a comfort to them–this means you are one less person to worry about and one less person get mad at.
A stressed dog (or person) is much more likely to approach a non threatening, positive individual in a positive way. This means you’ll see fewer teeth and more happy, wagging tails. So, take some time and ask your boss if they’d like you to get them coffee when they come in, or perhaps just smile and ask about their day–establish a routine and just remember:
Positivity is infectious.
Have you ever walked into a restaurant that really made you feel welcome, and then compared it to an eatery that may as well have thrown the food out on the sidewalk to be picked up?
Odds are, that restaurant had smiling staff that greeted you as you came in, and offered you refreshments immediately, perhaps even while you waited for a table. A positive environment breeds positive responses. Have you ever tried Smiling at Strangers to see if you can lift their day?
There is a slight pitfall in this that needs to be addressed though…
Don’t be a doormat.
Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. Whoever these techniques are applied to–they have been picked and given responsibilities for a reason! Whether it be dog or human, they are clever and can take advantage of your kindness if you let them. Know your audience, and know when they are just fishing for compliments, or are asking you to do things out of laziness.
–And yes, over-complimenting or being overly helpful can be seen as a bit… brown-nosing. Don’t over do things and gain the affectionate name of “suck-up.” You probably won’t get invited to company parties or any fun things if you’re seen as such.
Remember, bribery does not equal reinforcement. You want your boss to be happy to see you, not treat you nicely because you got them coffee! This is going to seem like a lot of work on your behalf, but like any relationship, someone has to be the first to make the move and it can be fun. Try greeting your office mates with a smile and see if their interaction with you improves.