Communication happens all the time, whether we know it or not, and whether we like it or not. And, whether intended or not, our communication is perceived by others – positively or negatively. Rarely is communication considered neutral by others. How do you want to be perceived?
Having adopted a dog from my daughter and son-in-law – “Grigsby” was the baby in the family that was replaced with the birth of two little amazing girls. As a result, my walking patterns have changed, meaning I tend to walk when others are out and about, which has allowed me to observe and participate in “walking the dog” communication etiquette.
If I were to grade it, overall, I would have to say that the majority of walkers earn an “F.” Being charitable, the failing grade is likely due to focused exercise – the power walk – being in the zone, or just simple obliviousness. Nonetheless, it communicates messages that may not be intended or desirable.
The following depicts what I’ve observed in others:
- The head down, walking straight forward as if the walker were alone;
- The passing by quickly, as in overtaking Grigsby and me, with nary a word, grunt or other acknowledgement;
- The passing by quickly with nary a word, grunt or other acknowledgement when Grigsby and I step aside to allow the person to pass; *
- The smile and nod of acknowledgement;
- The “hello,” “good morning,” “good afternoon,” or “good evening;”
- The “thank you,” when Grigsby and I stand aside; and,
- The neighbor or other passerby that stops for a chat.
* I’ve been known to say “thank you” to the silent passerby. In short, I shame people into being appreciative
For those who want to project a different message, and recognize a desire to be perceived more positively even during that focused power walk, there are several simple, easy-to-implement tips to follow.
Here are several how-to’s:
- Look up, make eye contact and smile;
- Announce one’s intentions “passing on your left;”
- When the walker stops to allow you pass, a simple “thank you” will do;
- Nod acknowledgement;
- If not breathless – or even if breathless – a simple “hello,” or “good morning, afternoon, evening” will do; and,
- If wanting to chat, ask “is this a good time? “
Look up, make eye contact and smile
This simple, swift and friendly act acknowledges the other, and even makes the smiler feel good!
Announce one’s intentions, especially when passing
Not only friendly, it alerts the other to step aside receiver, and avoids a startled walker into creating an accident.
When the walker stops to allow you to pass, a simple “thank you” will do
Common courtesy takes but a nano-second to implement. We all like to be acknowledged and thanked for being considerate of others. Just do it!
A nod of acknowledgement doesn’t need to interfere with that power walk, and it feels good to be recognized by others. Just do it!
If not breathless – or even if breathless – a simple “hello,” or “good morning, afternoon, evening” will do
That says it all. It’s quick, easy, and oh so nice to be recognized even when in the zone.
If wanting to chat, ask “is this a good time? “
This tip applies not only when “walking the dog,” it is an important tip to use at all times, even when there is a scheduled appointment – that’s because life happens. In those instances, the question becomes “is this still a good time.”