Every time I get the chance to work in a school district and talk with teachers and administrators about their work, the subject of trust and relationships inevitably comes up. I suspect it is because this is such a critical time in the lives of educators---new evaluation systems, new ways of rating teachers, etc. Never has the issue of trusting relationships been so important.
Teachers often say how much they appreciate objective and unbiased feedback, free from opinion and interpretation on the part of the observer. Getting that feedback is actually welcomed, as long as the feedback is given in such a way that it is palatable to the ear.
My husband and I do Labrador Retriever Rescue work. We foster Labs who have been deserted, turned in to the pound or who were strays. We rescue them, give them a foster home for a few days, weeks, or months until they are "adoptable" by an approved adopter. We've had three dogs so far in our short time of volunteering with this organization, but this guy is the one who proves the tenet that "Relationships matter". He came from a broken home. The couple who had him got a divorce and each tried to get back at the other via this dog. The husband gave him to another family, only to have the ex-wife come get him and take him to the pound. The good news is: the pound called the Rescue and next thing we knew, this 92 pound love was part of our home.
All was fine until we tried to put some medicine in his ears. All of a sudden, we heard a low, menacing growl. Yikes! I thought. We can't have a 92-pound moose growling at us. He growled until we gave up and said, "Forget it. We won't put medicine on you." But after consulting a behaviorist, we discovered that by giving up and giving in to the growling, we were saying, "We don't care enough to give him what he needs". We also were inherently saying, "We're giving up". The behaviorist taught us some really great techniques that didn't eliminate the growling entirely but have helped him relax a bit with the application of the medicine he needs. What I really noticed, however, was the change over the last three days in this big guy's attitude towards us. Where he started out almost looking downcast and depressed, he now looks into our eyes to get feedback (am I doing okay?). Where he started out growling for minutes on end when we tried to apply the meds, he now starts to growl, accepts the correction, then after the application, lays his head in my lap. What made the difference? The relationship. It matters.
Just for today, perhaps try to remember how much the relationship matters. If the relationship is strained or non-existent, the feedback and correction are less likely to have the desired effect.
Theresa Pate aka Mama2
2/15/2015 10:44:34 am
Great reminder! What's good for the dog is good for the person.
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