Wasting Time on the People who won’t Get it

by | May 16, 2024

In the past two weeks, there have been two incidents with dogs and their owners. They have not ended well.

In fact, they made me so irate that my Whoop fitness tracker thought I was in Zone 5 (that’s like full exertion). At one point, mid-confrontation, it started buzzing informing me I hit my strain goal for the day.

I’ll keep the recaps brief as not to tap out my Whoop again.

The first moment came when I was sitting with my eyes closed right after sunrise, getting my chi on, when I heard a commotion and then felt a wet furry dog hop off my back. I looked up to find its owner, casually strolling along, not a care in the world. I approached and let her know that, “Your dog just scared the crap out of me! The rules say your dog has to be on a leash! Put your dog on a leash!” Her response was to put her fingers in her ears and say “la la la la la la la la.” FYI, she was 50+ years old so a mature response.

The second incident went down walking along with Steve, AirPods in doing a little keynote rehearsal when a dog ran up between Steve and me and scared the crap out of me. He nipped at Steve in a quasi-playful way as I recovered from my heart palpitations and looked around for his owner. He was up about 100 yards on his electric bike, waiting for his dog to return. When I let him know his dog needed to be on a leash, he said, “He is,” and arrogantly crossed his arms across his chest, all proud pointing to the leash attached to the dog’s harness. He missed the part that the other end of the leash needed to be in his hand.

Both back-and-forths went on for a bit, me citing rules and them calling me names that took my breath away. NGL what the dude called me had me in tears. I walked home 8 blocks sans flip-flops because I just wanted to get off the beach and away from him, so I took the road home, tears streaming, crows squawking. Still.

There’s a cycle to these events.

  • I feel bad for getting so angry and losing my temper and yelling, “Follow the rules!”
  • Then I think, well if they just followed the rules and kept their dogs on a leash, we wouldn’t have these problems.
  • or if they remotely apologized or took ownership of their crazy dogs when they jumped on people or scared people.
  • Then I think how every time this happened (there’s been more than these two), I probably get to Zone 5 because I am in chill mode at the beach, and when a dog jumps on you, IT SCARES THE CRAP OUT OF YOU, so of course you’re going to come out swinging!
  • Then, I go back to what I could have done differently. How could I have handled the situation better? Which normally leads to an equal YOU WERE RIGHT, ERIN, to YOU WERE WRONG, ERIN, and around and around then down the drain we go.

This morning, as I walked to yoga because chi alignment was clearly necessary, I realized I had to break the cycle. Going forward, the cycle I will break is me saying anything to these people.

The next time a dog jumps on me, I’m just going to count backward from 100.  I’m going to close my eyes and breathe. And not say a word.

Why? Because it won’t matter. They have no sense of responsibility. They don’t think the rules apply to them. They are not going to become responsible dog owners with some lady yelling, “Follow the rules!” at them. They don’t care. They think they’re the exceptions to the rule. They’re entitled thinking allows them to believe their dog is “cute,” so they can get away with it. Or the guy that said, “Oh, no big deal, he’s got good vibes,” after another mid-meditation pooch pouncing.

Fact: they are wrong. Fact: they are not following the rules. Fact: It is scary to have a dog jump on you, cute or not.

What I realized on my mat today is that I’m never going to get anywhere with them. I am bringing on more frustration and high blood pressure by thinking anything I say will make a difference. I’m getting all worked up over them, and I am doubling down on my stress.

I can’t control the dogs or their asshole owners.

I can control not responding and not giving them a once over.

Think of the cycle of conversations you have with your colleagues or members of your team. There are times to give feedback to your team. There are times to coach your team. There are times to look at people on your team and ask if these people are even coachable. Are these people even worth my energy? Is there even a point to them being here? Is there even a point in me wasting my breath?

If you notice a cycle of your own when it comes to these types of relationships, take ownership and remove yourself from the cycle. Some people don’t want to hear it. Some people refuse to hear it. Some people don’t think they have blind spots. (They do.) Some people will double down on following the rules… but just enough to suit them without honoring the spirit of the rule.

Remove yourself from the cycle. There are plenty of other people — and cute, leashed dogs — who deserve your energy and attention.


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