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Sit. No, Stay!July 28, 2006

I'm using dog training techniques on people. Okay, on one person. In dog training, or at least the kind I'm using with good success so far on Clara, when the dog does something you don't want her to do, you ignore her. You remove attention. Then you praise her when she does what you want.

There's a person in my life (I won't mention in which arena I know her -- I know she doesn't know that I blog, but someone who knows her might, so I won't specify further) that drives me up a flipping wall. Up the wall to the point that my stomach turns into little knots of irritation. She talks. And talks. And talks. And talks.

Without point. Ad nauseum. About nothing.

And then she talks some more. And she talks mean.

I'm a nice gal. I like to respond politely to everyone who speaks to me. It's one of the obligations in life, I think. As a good human, you honor the voices of others.

However. There's a line, people.

This gal talks nothing but crap, too, did I mention that? She criticizes EVERYONE, but she does it in that dreadful passive-aggressive way, "Did you notice that Jane Doe has gained weight? Boy, I wonder what her husband thinks about that. Have you noticed? I wonder how much she's gained. What do you think? How much do you guess she's gained?"

Then she'll repeat the exact same sentiment, same phrasing, an hour later. And the next day. I'm not exaggerating here.

Or she says the same thing, over and over, even if you pretend not to hear the first time. "I have to get gasoline today." Nothing. "I can't believe I have to get gas already." I nod. "It's just so expensive. I thought I just fueled up the other day. I hate getting gas. Don't you?"

I guess I can't convey how irritating it is. It sounds pretty innocuous, written like that. It's the WAY she says things that grates on me. It's the way she keeps talking, even when I am obviously busy doing something else, even when I snap at her, which I occasionally do to my everlasting regret. I snap, she backs off, and then she's back to talking.

So, while in my Buddhist-in-law mind I try to think of her as my excellent teacher, as someone just trying to achieve happiness and avoid suffering, I'm also trying some dog training on her.

It's working!

When I'm doing something and don't want to be interrupted, and she talks about something completely trivial, or worse, mean-spirited, I ignore her. I may be quite close to her, and I don't turn around. I can obviously hear her. And I just ignore her. Completely.

Then, when I'm not busy, I initiate polite, friendly conversation. She doesn't seem to notice or mind my new method (I would, if someone were totally ignoring me), and she's talking to me less when I'm obviously busy. It's truly kind of amazing. I like her way better now.

Good girl!

PS - Bolinas tomorrow night! Come see the Whoreshoes in the best possible venue.


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I love it! But if you find yourself reaching for the clicker, you may be taking it too far. And if you don't know what a clicker is, look into flyball or agility training classes with Clara. Border Collie's excel at that kind of thing, LOVE doing it, and it's so much fun to watch.

Oh, believe me...I feel your irritation. At my old position, there was a girl like that...and not only did she go on and on, she needed someone else's opinion to make even the most basic of decisions - like "Where should I go for lunch?" I mean, I'm indecisive, but holy hell...drove.me.up.the.WALL.

Of course, I changed positions, and now I have other problems....

Oh. My. God. You didn't tell me you knew my MIL!!!


Hey doll

Read this if you haven't already:


I always use doggy commands with the kids at work.

"No biting!"

And I keep a pocket full of jelly beans for the well behaved anim-- kids. It's a slow process, but it keeps me entertained for hours just trying.

I have a friend like that... Must try your strategy although mine is working too ;) Not answering the phone when I suspect it is her or using the kids to get off the phone or out of social events. Keeping things short has worked wonders and now I can APPRECIATE her again (in small doses). Good for you for finding something that works :)

Egad, the dreaded verbal diarrhea. I once worked with someone like that. We had to share a (really) small office.
She talked ALL the time about nothing, even when I was doing client case notes. Even when I told her sweetly that I couldn't concentrate on the files when she spoke.
My shoulders used to crawl right up into the back of my head. I didn't need a clicker, I needed an electric cattle prod.
Glad your method seems to be working. Hugs.

Gotta love positive reinforcement!

Heh, glad your animal training is working. I've had experience with people like that.. bah. You have more patience than I, I just seethe and want to RIP HER HEAD OFF.

Have a fabulous time in Bolinas!

Ha ha, I was just about to refer you to the NYT Shamu article, but I see that Cari beat me. I'm glad it's working. We are all animals, after all.

Amber and I apparently married the same man! Seriously, please just stab our MIL in the eye, 'cuz we don't got the guts.

I have such a story about people adopting animal communication, but it's not really the same so I'll save it for another time.

*twitches* This girl is my MOTHER. Only ignoring her doesn't work. Eeek.

Am glad that this girl's leaving you alone when you need to be left alone, at least. More proof that people are just two-legged animals. =D

A *lot* of people must want to do this, because that NY Times article was the most-forwarded story on the site for over two weeks!

Dude, you are indeed a nice person. I know 'cause you told me I was cute, which automatically makes you nice. (Unlike some folks who think I'm a petunia).

It's a pity you're too nice to poke her in the nose or, like, just take a big strip of duct tape and slap it across the front of her face.

Not that I'd ever think of doing such a thingie. And such.

Fun post--I'm DEFINETLY going to try a couple of things on a brattler that sends me into craziness with her constant repeated WHINING.


You, on Good Morning America on Friday, they suggested to do exactly that dog-training method on your spouse. It works, just don't think of it as dog-training, but as simple psychology.
But people like her are just one of the reasons I'm such a hermit.

I shared an office with someone like that. She also smacked her lips before and while she ate. The bosses kept telling her to work more and talk less, but she could not stop herself and was eventually fired.

I feel for you - my husbands mother is kind of like that - she drivels on and on and its all nasty, I used to put up with it until I realised everyone else would physically run away from her (yes, truly) and leave me to nod my head like it had come loose or something. My number2 son can also talk however, but it is innocuous stuff - we call it "verbal farting" as the wee guy just can't hold it in. Good luck with the training

I have one of those people! Maybe I should try those dog-training techniques. Hm..

Ugh. If it's not a person you need to deal with on a regular basis, maybe it's time to let her go.

Oh I love this! I just finished reading The Dog Whisperer and I have been using this on the patrons at the winery I work at during the summer (wow, horrible sentence structure there but oh well). It so works! I told my best friend to watch out or I'd dog whisper her!

my mother in law recommended that i use that method of training on my husband.

There was an article in the New York Times on June 25th called "Modern Love,
What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage" by Amy Sutherland. Great article about how Amy used animal behavior training techniques on her husband - and how he started using them back on her. Amy wrote the book "Kicked, Bitten and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers".

If you want a copy of the article, send me your e-mail address.


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