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October 11, 2011

The art of observation - learnings from Animal behaviour

The mother of all education is observation. I have learnt so much in life from observation. One of my favorite books is "How to read a person like a book". Let us discuss animal behavior especially dog behavior and what we can learn from it. 

Dogs gulp their food: This is a tendency that they have retained from their wild days. In the wild dogs are pack animals and they hunt and eat in groups. It is very important that a dog eats and eats fast. The dog that shows table manners by eating slowly will starve itself to death. Speed matters in eating if you are a dog. 

Dogs circle the place where they sleep many times before they settle in: Again a throwback to their wild days in the forest. In the forest dogs have to sleep on grass. The grass might be thorny, tall or might have unwelcome pests, small insects, bugs etc. By circling the grass gets crushed and so too all the unwelcome guests. That is why even domestic dogs circle many times before settling down. 

Dogs treat different people in the family differently: Very true. Dogs are pack animals and they tend to treat member of its family differently. The most dominating person (in many cases the father) will become the tribe leader and mother will become the feeder and the others will be the siblings. If the dog can dominate it will become the most dominant of the siblings and would dictate things to the children!

Dogs are friendly and are very social: Most well trained dogs are very friendly and can adapt to new situations very easily. A new dog in the surroundings would immediately gauze the environment and adapt. If it is possible the new dog would stiff leg (walking to the other dogs with stiff legs) and appears to be bigger than itself with raised body and fur. The dominant dog would growl. If the other dog does the same it could either led to a fight or one of the dogs will withdraw the aggressive posture thus defusing the situation.

The submissive dog would immediately tuck its tail inside its hind legs and make itself appear to be smaller and whimper. The entire posture is that of submission. If the aggressive dog were to approach the submissive dog, it would yelp and fall on the ground. It would lie flat on its back, expose its neck and look away. This  indicates total submission. The submissive dog is saying “I am totally at your mercy. Kill me if you want”. The dominant dog also has a code of conduct. The dominant dog would sniff the neck of the submissive dog and both would become friendly.  

Thus it is important to notice the play of body language in all situations including in sales and marketing. The customer might be saying something and the body might be saying something else. If there is a discrepancy of what is being said and what is being felt (through body language) the smart sales man who can detect and act on the discrepancy would emerge as the winner and walk away with the sale.

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