Before anyone gets upset with this analogy, I’m certainly not suggesting treating humans like we would our canine friends, but we can learn a lot from our canine-training friends.
Here are some tips from the canine-training world that I believe work well with people too.
Tip #1: Decide/communicate how you want people to treat you and your environment (boundaries).
If we don’t know and don’t communicate our expectations, people can’t treat us how we want to be treated. Some examples might be:
- No shoes in the house.
- No excessive drinking in our home.
- No smoking or swearing around us or our children.
- Treat each other with respect and kindness.
- Respect others’ personal space and belongings.
- Fulfill commitments.
Tips #2: Consistency is critical.
Oh, boy, this one is hard sometimes. When we let people know our boundaries, it’s essential for us to consistently enforce them. For example, if you don’t allow excessive drinking in your home, don’t let it happen, ever. If you relax the rule once, let’s say for New Year’s Eve, then the rule can be called into doubt at other times. Is it okay for birthday parties? How about Halloween?
Tip #3: Train at the moment.
This is a biggie. Training at the moment is so much more impactful than bringing something up minutes, hours, day, or even weeks later.
I have a client that was frustrated with a co-worker who repeatedly interrupted her during meetings. When she would bring it up later, the co-worker had no recollection of the infraction. They agreed that calling it out at the time it happened was fair and reasonable. Awareness increased, and the transgressions have been significantly reduced.
Tip #4: Find the right reward.
It’s crucial to find the right reward for positive behavior. I like to reference the five love languages for this effort. Here they are:
- Words of affirmation.
- Acts of service.
- Receiving gifts.
- Quality time.
- Physical touch (be careful with this one).
My husband and I rank our love languages very similarly. Both of us ranked Receiving Gifts at the bottom of the list, with the other Love Languages equally distributed. So, it would be less effective to buy him a gift for doing something important to me, but creating an opportunity to spend time together would be huge.
Tip #5: Frequently reward the positive, show gratitude.
Rewarding positive behavior no matter how small reinforces the results we are hoping for. Saying “thank you” every time your housemate does the dishes or takes out the garbage increases dopamine production, improving the opportunity for positive behavior.
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