Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5 (ESV)
I attended some training for work this week that identified four communication styles, shark, dolphin, sea turtle and starfish. They are defined as follows: Sharks: quick to action, often sharp tongued, decisive and independent; Sea Turtle: methodical, considers options, likes data and consults others for opinions; Dolphins: high energy, entertaining, excited and easily distracted; Starfish: patient, resilient, reticent, goes with the flow and waits to see what others are doing. Now, I don’t know if those definitions truly define the sea life that they are associated with, but I am definitely a shark when it comes to communication. In fact, I would not be surprised if my co-workers don’t mentally hear the theme from Jaws when I approach. I make snap decisions, sometimes without hearing all the details, prefer communication to be broken down into bullet points and like to get things done NOW! It is a good leadership quality to have, but not so nice when it comes to communication. I learned today that I need to listen better and not to be planning my verbal “attack” while the other person is speaking. Patience is not an attribute of the shark, and though the actual marine animal may be more patient than I when it comes to stalking a victim, when I am on a task, I don’t like to wait. But, I am learning that it is important to be gentle and take my time when it comes to relationships. This week, a new equine dentist came to check on Trucker. The last dentist I used almost ten years ago frightened me and seemed so inhumane that I have been afraid to call and make another appointment. He rushed in with sedation and power tools before Trucker, or I, knew what hit us. When Trucker needed care, I called a different dentist who spent a lot of time talking to him and building a bond before opening his mouth and using hand tools to file his teeth down. I really liked how she worked. So calming and caring. Cory is working in a new obedience level now and it requires retrieving a dumbbell. She will take and hold the dumbbell when I ask, but refuses to pick it up off the floor. In the old days of training, they taught something called forced fetch where you pinched the dog’s ear until they screamed and took the dumbbell. A quick pinch was all it took to get them to pick it up off the floor. Now, it seems just as inhumane to me as using an electric saw on my horses’ teeth or for that matter, not listening to what someone is trying to say to me. So, just as I will be patient with Cory, calmly putting the dumbbell in her mouth over and over again until she learns to pick it up off the floor, I will learn not to be so assertive in my conversations or relationships. Even an old Shark can learn new tricks.