Sometimes we make small, but significant social blunders. And I am going to admit here that I’ve made this one repeatedly. Maybe you have, too, and will be able to relate. Then we can figure out what the deal is – and hopefully course-correct together.
Here’s the story:
Most people who have dogs walk them and take them out in public regularly. This is good, because dogs are generally social creatures and are so much happier ̶ and likely to take good long naps ̶ when they get a little exercise and stimulation. If you take your dog on regular outings, you have probably had people stop to ask you about your pet, note how adorable it is, and possibly even inquire as to its breed, age, and how you acquired it. As the happy owner of a smart, sexy, and very adorable golden doodle and “grandma” to an extremely silly cockapoo, I experience this quite often. I also like to meet and greet other people’s dogs and make the typical inquiries.
Here’s where I think I mess up: I often don’t bother to ask the dog owner his or her name. I mean, here we are chatting away about our pets and our common love of our pets. And yet most of the time we completely neglect the more important social opportunity: meeting and getting to know each other as fellow humans.
Why is this?
I did it again just this past weekend. While sitting at a lovely sidewalk café in downtown Austin enjoying a delicious brunch, a man walked by with a gorgeous golden doodle. Since I have one, I asked the man where he got his pup as well as its age and name, which was Walter. (What an excellent name for this dog! He was truly a Walter if ever I saw one.) I have no clue who Walter’s owner was; I didn’t bother to ask.
Later that same day I was in Lowe’s getting some keys made. A woman with an adorable and very inquisitive charcoal-hued pooch came by. The dog’s name was Dazie. I learned from Dazie’s owner that she was a schnoodle (Schnauzer / poodle mix) in training to be a therapy dog. She seemed like an excellent candidate for the job. The lady and I chatted for about 5 minutes while my keys were being made. Never once did I introduce myself or ask the woman her name.
As Homer Simpson is known to quip: “D’oh!” [Visualize me striking my forehead squarely with the heel of my hand.)
What’s this about? (And admit it. You have done this, too.) Are we afraid to meet people? Might they be weirdos? Might they talk our ears off as we are trying to get things done? Keep us from other more important tasks and conversations? Are we making a statement that we are more interested in pets than in people? And if so, why?
What are your thoughts and experiences here? Surely I’m not the only one who has made this social faux pas – and wants to correct it.
What social faux pas are happening in your organization, with your teams, at your conferences, or in your life? Want to make some positive course-corrections? My specialty is creating and delivering engaging, refreshing, attitude-shifting, and habit-changing presentations, workshops, and consulting programs based on my award-winning book The Intentional Networker: Attracting Powerful Relationships, Referrals & Results in Business and the research I am doing for my third book on conversation and connection. I’m mapping out my schedule for 2016 right now, so contact me today at patti[at]intentionalnetworker[dot]com. Let’s schedule a conversation about how my work can make a positive, energizing difference for you and your people!
I checked with Maxx and Bella, my two black and white house cats, and they agreed that no one asks their names. They also said that as cats they could care less unless food is involved. Being a “name-asker” myself I rarely forget to ask for the names of the doglets and catlets and birdlets that I meet. And people, too. If the conversation lasts more than 30 seconds I give my name “I’m wayne” and ask for theirs “what’s your name” (your son’s name, your baby’s name, etc.). I think you are right, as usual, that names and how they are pronounced are important. I also try to use the name several times once I learn it as I am standing there so I can remember it. People like to hear their names and it sort of turns me toward them as we speak, adds focus. I think people can feel that focus as recognition and respect. One other caution is not to stand too close (to people) and be careful about reaching out to touch the pet, or the person.
Yes, cats are a whole different story! The could care less! And you make a great point, Wayne, about asking people to say their names more than once so we can both remember it and pronounce it. In my workshops and presentations I sometimes talk about this. Saying, learning, pronouncing, and remembering names is an art. And one I have not yet mastered. We all have to just keep trying our best. Thanks, Wayne!