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The Dog, The Kids, And The Radio Show. Monday March 20, 2017

Lady Penelope, my partner, used to know 'everybody' in the village. She hasn't become less sociable, but she knows far less people now. Is this because the village is so much bigger? Is it because people are less friendly? Has she become less confident?

The reasons may be many but I do know one truth: Penelope has lost the 'interface' that used to make it easy for her to talk to relative strangers. That 'interface' was a dual one for her - she had a very friendly Labrador and she had young children. When people have a friendly dog, or young kids, it seems acceptable for strangers to stop and talk to them.

Alas, the dog has passed on and the children have grown up. It is far harder for people to approach one another without an excuse.

If the thought of owning and walking a dog doesn't appeal, and the idea of having kids doesn't work for you, is there an alternative?

Not really. There's something about the attractiveness and innocence of dogs and children that makes it 'safe' and OK to reach out and connect. What people need is a reason or an excuse to connect. They need to feel safe and comfortable to risk what could otherwise turn into a rejection.

There is a less intense version of this challenge with Networking events. We need a non-threatening point-of-contact.

Structuring an event so that there is some kind of round-table or 'speed-dating' experience can help, but it can also still feel uncomfortable for those of us who are not natural networkers.

This is where 'tangibility' becomes a great ability to have. A business card is tangible - touchable, exchangeable. If you want to feel more comfortable at networking events (and help others to feel that way too), have something tangible to give them, and give them a reason to connect.

I confuse the life out of business people I meet because it's difficult to put your finger on what exactly I do. To overcome this barrier, it is essential for me to offer them a point-of-contact and a conversation opener.

When I used to volunteer as a Breakfast Show Host on the local radio station, it was easier. Being a volunteer wasn't glamorous, so there were no bragging rights, but it was interesting and it was exciting to chat to people about being a guest on my show.

Nowadays, I can get a similar impact with less time constraints by talking about podcasts. I can use my broadcast experience and help people get their message online and on air by recording a podcast with them. This potential benefit makes it easier to connect with relative strangers. It gives us an excuse to talk!

It would seem then that to meet friends and influence people, it helps to have a dog, or young children, or a radio show! Go get one - or all three - and be clear on your conversation opener! Don't be a stranger!

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


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Comments

Molly Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 5:19am

I believe that makes people hide behind their dogs and children. Something to focus on rather than themselves. As for the radio, again, it's a kind of cover. I worked for an MP and it was easy to talk about him. I look after a dog, and yes people talk to you about the dog. I'm not going to get a dog for that purpose, or have a child for that purpose or find an MP or work on a radio show ! How true though ! As a nobody without any of these things, I won't be given the time of day, unless I ask what the time actually is, and be looked at like I'm an alien or about to rob the person :-) :-) good blog lex xx

Leah Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 6:11am

Molly, and Lex, I think that dogs and children enable people to have social chit chat but unless there is another connection it will stay superficial.. When my children were little I found that I had to have something in common with people other than the fact we both had children. I have several good friends who do not have children. I agree Lex that in our society it is easier to meet with a dog or another animal and young children. I have no children around me, no dog, but I managed to make friends with neighbours when I moved here years ago. Lex thanks for this entertaining blog which has made me think. Also Molly I found your comment very thoughtful .

Lex Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:01am

Hi Molly and Leah - it's the 'excuse' isn't it - some way of making it easier and acceptable to connect. And I'm meaning 'excuse' in a very positive way. There will always be an acceptable point of contact... we just have to be imaginative and find it. Thanks for your encouragements. xx

Tychi's Mum Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 6:06am

Good morning Lex, I loved this blog because I am a complete dog lover....I run my own dog walking business....well, I did until I had to stop work thanks to my worsening bouts of depression. That's another story for another day...
I believe so strongly that dogs really connect people and it's very rare to meet an unfriendly dog owner. Dog walkers create their own little communities and it's not long before you know the dogs and their owners by name....especially in a village environment as you described.
If you don't fancy owning a dog you can always borrow one!!! I'd love it if a friend or neighbour wanted to borrow my dog for the afteroon now and again!
There is a borrow a dog scheme. Details at BorrowMyDoggy.com or the Cinnamon Trust is a fantastic charity that helps elderly pet owners continue to look after their pets at home. They always need volunteer dog walkers.
The children thing is something which I have very limited experience of although I imagine it has very similar benefits in terms of socialising and building communities.
My husband and I decided against children. Instead we have a very well loved pooch who we describe as our "dog child".
Her name just happens to be Tychi!
Wishing you all a dog-loving day, from Tychi's Mum x

Lex Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:02am

Brilliant, Tychi's Mum, just brilliant. A partner of mine in business loves dogs but her life partner is allergic. So, they borrow dogs to go walking in the fresh air where his allergies can be controlled. It's a massive win-win. x

Molly Tue, Mar 21st 2017 @ 9:11pm

I joined borrowmydoggy.com but it now appears they want money from me. I don't mind looking after dogs for free (and I always have done through family and friends mainly) but I'm not willing to pay to look after a dog, when really they should be paying me. I guess these businesses have to make their money somehow. Generally though i agree it is a win win, I have just had my neighbours dog stay for two weeks and I'm not sure which one of us were more grateful :-) xx including the dog as he got spoilt :-) :-) win win win....

Sally Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 7:08am

Dogs are a very good way to approach other people. Yesterday a case in point. Even though we don't have a dog, we spoke to owners, when dogs bounded up to us. It was a nice connection since I love dogs. I chat easily to strangers. Most respond positively. When I am depressed I can no longer do this. It's so noticeable that acquaintances sometimes think I'm shunning them. A difficult one because you don't want to have to explain what's going on in your head to all and sundry!
I liked your blog, Lex, because it rang bells with me. Not having a business card, or podcast experience , I simply wade in. A walk around my area or a visit to a coffee shop nearly always results in some form of interaction. It's quite surprising. I blame increasing old age for my lack of inhibition, but could it just be down to experience, that finding that people don't actually bite/ mind, i "go for it" again and again?
And Tychi's Mum: I'm actually going to look into BorrowMyDoggy.com and the Cinnamon Trust, so thanks for that! :-)

Tychi's Mum Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 8:21am

You're very welcome Sally. Please let me know how you get on... Tychi's Mum x

Lex Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:21am

Hi Sally, you've inspired me further! I realise now that one doesn't have to have a dog (or children) - just find someone else who does and chat to them! Dogs are so good at bounding up, and most owners are so proud of their pets, so praising the pet and taking and interest is a great introduction, isn't it? Have a great day!

Orangeblossom Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 8:25am

Thanks for your stimulating blog Lex. it is a good, informative read.

Lex Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:21am

You are so welcome, Orangeblossom - and thank you for saying so!

LP Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 9:17am

Morning Lex,
Yes, it's not something I've thought about much maybe because my work involve talking to lots of people.
Really good point about dogs and children making it easier. I find when I'm off work and go for a walk, get a paper and maybe a coffee, but any bits I need and walk home, it's nice but doesnt involve talking to anyone! If that went on, I'd miss chatting to people.
I can walk just for the sake of it, but I know people who feel that they need a reason to go. Again dogs and children make it easier!
Thanks Lex, just for the sake of it! :) LP xx

Lex Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:23am

Hi LP, I'm really into anything that makes life easier for us! And we call know how important interaction is to lifting us from the valley... plus, of course, dogs are so unjudgmental! xx

Jul Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 9:31am

Hi Lex. A lovely blog. I come across many dogs and their owners on my bike rides. But I have to be ultra careful about the dogs knocking me off my bike after this happened to me in France last year (A St Bernard puppy!). I talk to many dog owners along the way and often comment how lovely their dogs are. I think if you walk or ride a bike without children or a dog, you can often speak to a dog owner if the dog is doing something funny or charging towards you. I cycle along a nature reserve and the reserve manager has advised us to ring our bells to warn people we are behind them and also for walkers and cyclists alike to say good morning to each other. It's great as it takes only those two words to connect in a cheerful comforting way. Jules xx

Lex Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:25am

Hi Jules! I can hear that cheerful tinkling bell in my mind's ear now! Ting! Ting!! Horns are horrible, bike bells are beautiful. Maybe I should get one anyway and stick it on the handle of my briefcase? "Good Morning!" - magic words xx

Tutti Frutti Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 9:46am

Hi Lex First can I hijack this blog to thank Mary, Night Owl and LP for their encouragement on Wednesday. Sorry not to have thanked you on the day I had gone off line but last night I was going back through some of the blogs where I knew I hadn't read all the comments and it was very nice to get your messages then.

Anyway back to the subject. I totally agree about kids being an icebreaker (and dogs do seem to be as well although I don't have personal experience - gerbils are lovely but they don't really cut it in this respect!). Your blog reminded me of a course I once did at work where the trainer suddenly said to us "over the lunch break I want you to go out and talk to three total strangers." I can't remember whether we were supposed to ask questions, get phone numbers or what as it turned out that the point of the training was just to let us stew for a bit trying to plan this and then talk about what we might have done rather than do it. At the time my daughter was about 3 but of course that was one of her nursery days. The immediate thing that went through my head was get my daughter go to the park and strike up conversation with another parent and the second thing was the impracticality of getting in and out of central London in the lunch break. The best I could come up with was queue up in a sandwich shop and telling the person next to you "I am doing a course where ..." and hope they took pity on me. Anyway the point was that it's easier to talk to people who seem to be like us ie where we have a conversation opener.

Sorry for wittering on. Not sure there's much point to my wittering but I did enjoy the blog.

Love TF x

Lex Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:27am

Hi Tutti Frutti - hijack away! I don't always get to read as many times as I intend and it is easy for our thanks to get lost once the day has passed - so I think it's great to give Mary, Night Owl and LP a shout out for their encouragement! And your wittering was wonderful - "people like us, like us!" x

LP Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 11:33pm

You're very welcome TF xx

Tutti Frutti Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 9:46am

Hi Lex First can I hijack this blog to thank Mary, Night Owl and LP for their encouragement on Wednesday. Sorry not to have thanked you on the day I had gone off line but last night I was going back through some of the blogs where I knew I hadn't read all the comments and it was very nice to get your messages then.

Anyway back to the subject. I totally agree about kids being an icebreaker (and dogs do seem to be as well although I don't have personal experience - gerbils are lovely but they don't really cut it in this respect!). Your blog reminded me of a course I once did at work where the trainer suddenly said to us "over the lunch break I want you to go out and talk to three total strangers." I can't remember whether we were supposed to ask questions, get phone numbers or what as it turned out that the point of the training was just to let us stew for a bit trying to plan this and then talk about what we might have done rather than do it. At the time my daughter was about 3 but of course that was one of her nursery days. The immediate thing that went through my head was get my daughter go to the park and strike up conversation with another parent and the second thing was the impracticality of getting in and out of central London in the lunch break. The best I could come up with was queue up in a sandwich shop and telling the person next to you "I am doing a course where ..." and hope they took pity on me. Anyway the point was that it's easier to talk to people who seem to be like us ie where we have a conversation opener.

Sorry for wittering on. Not sure there's much point to my wittering but I did enjoy the blog.

Love TF x

Tutti Frutti Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 9:48am

Sorry got frustrated with lack of connection so it came out twice! TF x

Lex Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:28am

Sometimes we have to say things twice to be heard! x

The Gardener Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:45am

Your blog, Lex, saying how village life is not the same. In France we have our 'quartier' and, 20 years ago, it would have been unthinkable not to shake hands or kiss acquaintances - and bon jours and bon journees to everybody else, from dustman to the staff in the chemists. Things are changing, sadly - I gave a big party beginning of December - and people who had moved in next door to each other had to be introduced in MY house - even though they parked their cars behind each other AND had dogs. I have a 'high' profile, not to show off, but because I have done exhibitions, given lectures, opened my garden every Wednesday in summer and read in church I am known by most of the population (whole canton has only 7,000 people), The daughters of Mr G's godson spent a week-end with us - 15 years ago? They came out with me on the Saturday morning 'round'. It took an hour, kisses, handshakes, explanations of their relationship to us. I thought the girls would be bored. No. They live in Sydenham (or did). They said 'you're so lucky knowing so many people - we only know the neighbours on the left because we walk their dog'. I was born in 1935, in a village which had a swollen population due to the poverty of farming, and farmers were selling strips of land which became 'ribbon development'. The houses were mostly sold to people coming out of London - there was virtually no camaraderie, Londoners could not cope with the country - they were a very disparate lot, it was NOT a happy village. I tried to write its history (started Saxon times) but it would have been a depressing piece of work. As the big houses had been sold and split up even the traditional 'squirarchy' had gone. This screed is not from a sour old woman looking back on the 'good old times' but as a social historian, always interested in the 'push/pull' factor, and what is the secret ingredient which makes a 'community'.

The Gardener Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:46am

Your blog, Lex, saying how village life is not the same. In France we have our 'quartier' and, 20 years ago, it would have been unthinkable not to shake hands or kiss acquaintances - and bon jours and bon journees to everybody else, from dustman to the staff in the chemists. Things are changing, sadly - I gave a big party beginning of December - and people who had moved in next door to each other had to be introduced in MY house - even though they parked their cars behind each other AND had dogs. I have a 'high' profile, not to show off, but because I have done exhibitions, given lectures, opened my garden every Wednesday in summer and read in church I am known by most of the population (whole canton has only 7,000 people), The daughters of Mr G's godson spent a week-end with us - 15 years ago? They came out with me on the Saturday morning 'round'. It took an hour, kisses, handshakes, explanations of their relationship to us. I thought the girls would be bored. No. They live in Sydenham (or did). They said 'you're so lucky knowing so many people - we only know the neighbours on the left because we walk their dog'. I was born in 1935, in a village which had a swollen population due to the poverty of farming, and farmers were selling strips of land which became 'ribbon development'. The houses were mostly sold to people coming out of London - there was virtually no camaraderie, Londoners could not cope with the country - they were a very disparate lot, it was NOT a happy village. I tried to write its history (started Saxon times) but it would have been a depressing piece of work. As the big houses had been sold and split up even the traditional 'squirarchy' had gone. This screed is not from a sour old woman looking back on the 'good old times' but as a social historian, always interested in the 'push/pull' factor, and what is the secret ingredient which makes a 'community'.

Jul Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 11:07am

This reminded me Gardener of the episode when I was knocked off my bike by a dog in France. Everyone came out of their houses to see if I was alright. It was a Sunday morning. But before they made sure I was Ok (I had got up off the ground) I had to kiss everyone on both cheeks and shake hands introducing myself. An absolute priority where we are in France. I joke about it now but was quite unnerved at the time. Julxx

The Gardener Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 1:34pm

Tutti F - your course - go and meet 3 total strangers - mind boggles at possibilities - sworn at? punched in the nose? Most likely reported to the police for harrassment. The ex (I think) agricultural training board ran excellent training courses. One was 'Instructional techniques'. We were in teams, and issued with instructions. The third team did not return to 'debrief'. They were eventually found in the bar, pre-lunch drinks. The instructor expostulated. 'Oh, we carried out all our tasks, but you never told us to come back!' I was a hopeless student - no good at being clear and succinct - always worried if my staff were happy in their work. (In fact, for any 'Dad's Army' fans - I was very like Sergeant Wilson. 'Would you mind' etc)

The Gardener Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 1:39pm

Having trouble today - Moodscope very slow - then does it twice, but I think my keyboard is very dirty

Brum Mum Mon, Mar 20th 2017 @ 10:36pm

Coming to party late again, I acquired a rescue dog last year which was brave as I had been dog phobic for many years. She is a delight in that I have met many people in my neighbourhood park in Birmingham but also taken good friends with me on walks and clock up around 35 miles per week. So good to meet new people, good to exercise and when the day has been tough she cuddles next to me on the sofa. I have met kindred spirits and also people I would not be friends with were it not for the dog connection. On Sunday I walked with my partner who is Jamaican and met a man with a large bull terrier, not to mention the large tattoo of a British bulldog on his leg. Despite being in an area not always known for racial tolerance our dogs were oblivious and he was amiable so appearances can be deceptive. Thanks Lex for your blog from a convert to dogs. PS I have the kids too but dogs don't answer back!!

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