A dominatrix once told me that men are just like dogs. It made sense to me that someone who felt that way would wind up in her profession. She was a friend’s roommate, and I figured I might as well be civil and hear her out while I waited for my friend to get ready. Surprisingly, it turned out she had some valid points. I have asked several men about this and they tend to agree.
1. Know what you want.
2. Communicate clearly in a way he can understand.
3. Reinforce desired behavior.
Men hate having to try to read minds. Men hate mixed messages. Men hate double standards. (Substitute “people” or “employees” or “students” or “clients” or “children” and it works just as well). If the thing that is most important to you is punctuality, explain that you expect him to show up when he says he will, and be delighted when he does. If you’d prefer a picnic to an expensive restaurant, make sure he knows that. Be easy to please and he will please you. Be confusing or unfair and he probably won’t. We generally want to be with people who smile at us a lot and laugh at our jokes and want to spend time with us. Be that person.
Most of the time, my dog has no idea what I’m talking about. I know he’s always listening, though, because he can pick out any variation of the words run, go, walk, park, and cookie out of a sentence full of total gibberish. If I want him to provide security services while I go for a nighttime run, I don’t tell him about my feelings, I just ask, “Want to GO?” He always does. It’s not my dog’s job to provide for my every need and solve all my problems. It’s his job to be a dog and do dog things, and he does it well.
There is something else that dogs and men have in common, just like every other creature. They have particular likes, dislikes, and things that do not pertain to their interests. Here are Spike’s:
Likes: GO FOR A WALK. COOKIE. RUB BELLY. BALL.
Pet peeves: Fireworks, rain, package deliveries
Not Applicable: Onions, catnip, Rubik’s Cube
(Note that this list differs somewhat for cats or parrots. My bird hates belly rubs and does not seem to care about fireworks. I haven’t tried giving her a Rubik’s Cube yet).
What should stand out here is that all my dog’s favorite stuff in the world, the stuff that makes him wag his tail until his butt is about to fall off, is all really simple stuff. I can give him the best day of his life with almost no effort or expense. It’s also fun for me, which is why we keep him around.
The other thing that should stand out is that people have comparable lists. Here’s mine:
Likes: Privacy, plant-based food, books
Pet peeves: Anyone putting their fork in my food, naysaying, political arguments
N/A: sports, gaming, amusement parks
The secret to people is just as simple. Find out what their likes are and facilitate them as often as possible. Find out what their major pet peeves are and make sure not to do them. Don’t waste time or effort trying to impress them with things that are not relevant to their interests. Make sure you are clear and consistent about your own likes and dislikes, and be as easy to please as you’d like others to be. Give the belly rubs, or their equivalent, and you’ll have a best friend for life.
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.