As a dog lover, pack mentality fascinates me. As a people lover, group dynamics intrigues me. Occasionally, considering the similarities helps me.
We’ve all encountered them: people who live their life making sure they are Top Dog. I’m talking simple day-to-day encounters with others, independent of career. These are people who tackle life as a hierarchy, a vertical ladder that positions themselves in relation to others. Others embrace life more as a collaborative, a horizontal plane that places themselves in relation with others.
Consider when you meet a self-imposed Top Dog, either in their office or simply their social space. They begin to look toward you, but instead of acknowledging you they drop their head and forcibly continue their task. The task doesn’t matter, it could be closing out a computer screen or watching a car drive down the street. Out of cooperative respect, you wait for the opening that is quickly being created as you see them complete what is occupying them.
You are a little bemused when they obviously busy themselves with finding a new occupation rather than acknowledge your presence! Now the situation is slightly awkward, and you speak. Suddenly they turn to you in a surprised response, as if they only just now noticed your presence. You feel a shift has happened that you can’t quite name, and it has left you feeling slightly out of balance. In dogpack mentality, they have just peed on your leg.
When my leg has been peed on, it helps to remember (dogmatically?) that they view the world as hierarchical while I view it as collaborative…and that it’s nothing personal, they do this to everyone.
I don’t like getting my leg peed on, so I’ll do what I can to prevent it. Usually a warning nip, so to speak, does the trick. Lately I have stumbled across a symbolic response that works very well with my psyche for the extra challenging dogpack people, and perhaps it will benefit you:
Stand where you are, but simply pull your leg away.
The imagery of this Top Dog whizzing steadily away on a leg that isn’t even there makes me smile. They think they are redefining their ladder status, but they are simply peeing on air. Everybody wins–they no longer have this interaction to feel insecure about, and my leg isn’t compromised. Whiz all you like, it’s ineffectual on me. Nothing personal.