Where Eagles and Herons Watch Dogs (32KB)


Tales of Many Kinds

Mind-Bending and Culture Shock

Saturday, 26 March 2005

Skewing Communications

To me, one of the great sins humans commit against each other, and against animals, is to attribute certain motivations for that creature's behaviors, and to do so by inventing.

Yet each of us who tries to explain behavior before we ask the behaving creature about it risks making skewed interpretations.

Observation, as accurate and careful as possible, is necessary, before we try to explain what behavior we are seeing.

Many humans have a habit of having to know or explain everything. I realize it's very difficult to be willing to be confused, since it can be quite disorienting, to the point where we could even feel seasick.

I can recommend, though, to anyone, to practice being willing to be confused, or just to stop our endless chatter in which we keep telling ourselves what the world is like and how it works.

We can interfere with communication from others when we misattribute motivation to them, whether the others are dogs, humans, or other animals. We also interfere with our own possibilities for observing well when we do that.

Example of Misattributing Motivation

Recently I watched as a list-owner thought a participant was proselytizing, not recognizing the writer was attempting to share something she enjoyed.

Proselytizing and Defending Positions

I think a person typically begins to proselytize or to defend a position, if s/he feels s/he is not being heard.

Likely, s/he might be right, too. It depends on whether anyone is listening.

Yet it's by asking others what they mean that we have a chance to hear, to listen, and perhaps to perceive something of what the other person is trying to say.

Sometimes humans can discover at least many elements of each others' beautiful gardens.

I think dogs are more skilled at this than humans are.

We can learn, though. When we ask dogs what they are talking about, they will tell us. We need only watch and listen.

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