In recent blogs, I have discussed the importance of trust, rapport and reciprocity in resolving disputes. Something happened recently that highlights the importance of trust and rapport. Surprisingly, it has to do with one of my dogs- Buddy.

Buddy is a rescue which we adopted when he was six years old. From what we could gather based on his medical records and history, he had never been to a vet or groomer during those first six years. Thus, it became a challenge to take him to the vet for shots, annual checkups and if some particular malady was occurring. It got to the point that he essentially had to be sedated and muzzled for a vet appointment. And by sedated, I mean giving him an “injectable” that would render him unconscious long enough for the vet to examine and treat him.

As the years went by, Buddy became more irritable about the groomer as well.  It got to the point that we had to give him a sedative prior to the mobile groomer showing up to bath and clip him. However, the sedatives tended to make him either more aggressive or did not calm him enough to be able to put a muzzle on him and get him into the groomer’s van for this appointment.

It all came to a head last December when the mobile groomer came and despite the sedatives, we could neither muzzle him nor get him into the van. (And, likewise, the vet had great difficulty giving him a booster shot recently despite his being doped up.)

As Buddy had not been groomed since last July 2021, he was getting quite “wooly”.  In desperation my husband- a lawyer by trade- decided that he would attempt to groom Buddy. We went to the pet store and bought some clippers.  Dreading it, my husband put off attempting to groom Buddy for a while but finally looked at some YouTube videos on how to groom an English springer spaniel.

So, the day of reckoning finally came. We tied Buddy up to a post in the house and my husband took out the clippers and starting shaving Buddy. Buddy cooperated! And we neither muzzled him nor doped him with sedatives. After about 45 minutes, my husband more or less finished. Although it was not a “professional” job, Buddy looked a lot better than he did before with close to 8 months’ worth of fur growth.

I was astonished!

Why did Buddy cooperate? TRUST!  We have had Buddy for 4 years and during that time, we have never hurt him. We have built up rapport with him and he has grown to trust us. He knows we will not hurt him.  So- without a muzzle and without sedatives, he let us give him a very much needed haircut.

While this story is about a dog, it shows the importance of trust and rapport and how they can be built up through non-verbal (and verbal) communication.

In the world of disputes and conflicts where much more is at stake than a haircut, trust and rapport are all the more crucial. Building up trust and rapport will make the difference between resolving the dispute and remaining in conflict. And like I was astonished at Buddy’s reaction to being groomed by someone he knew and trusted- no muzzle, no sedative-no doubt you will be pleasantly surprised at the results obtained after building up trust and rapport with the other parties to the dispute or conflict.

… Just something to think about.




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