Business Lessons I’ve Learned From My Cat.

Having pets at work and home has been rewarding in so many ways.

Four virtues of having pets at work include:

  • Being motivated to step away from your desk and go for a walk
  • Giving and receiving unconditional friendship / kindness
  • Being reminded to try to keep things simple
  • Learning and re-learning responsibility

The benefits of having pets at work go far beyond those four virtues. As I mention in my earlier blog Business Lessons I’ve Learned From My Dog, I think some of the best examples of business best practices and Organizational Behaviour can be learned from our pets.

We all behave and communicate according to our natural self and our life experience; this includes our past, current and anticipated environments. And we must acknowledge that how we communicate with each other is a critical part of our home / work environment. Negative, abusive, unsupportive communication at home or at work will make us unhappy and this will negatively impact our performance and productivity.

Our pets at work can help us enjoy a better work/life balance, reduce stress and be more productive. So here it goes.

The Business Lessons I’ve Learned From My Cat.

  • Ben experiences every moment with kindness. In human terms he seems to see the glass half full. I believe negative energy attracts negative energy.
  • Ben never stomps around or is a bully. He’s gentle, deliberate and thoughtful to the people and spaces around him.
  • Ben meets new people confidently.
  • Ben At Work CloseupBen has reminded me that when I enter a room or any public space to stand tall and enter it with respect and dignity of myself and the people who are already there.
  • Ben is tolerant of others who look different or who have different opinions, habits or energy levels (dogs mostly). I have a great story of Ben sharing a cottage last week with a friends two dogs – all with inquisitive respect for each other.
  • Ben is inquisitive – whether it’s at home or a new person, place or thing. Ben likes to investigate (with respect and dignity), and learn what’s what.
  • Ben trusts me to do the right thing. 
  • Ben forgives me when I mess up or forget something… because my norm is what counts. I like to think he gives me the benefit of the doubt.
  • Ben demonstrates empathy.  He senses when I need a break – and also when I’m busy and can’t be disturbed. When he wants my attention but I have another priority he doesn’t take it personally.
  • When I need someone to listen, Ben is a great listener and doesn’t try to solve my problems for me… but being a great listener helps me settle down and solve the problem for myself.
  • Ben rarely rushes. He keeps a steady pace – but when he needs to move… he certainly gets going!
  • Ben is a big talker and often comes running – tail high – greeting me when I return. He’s also a big purrer and loves to cuddle. Let people know you are happy to see them.  
  • I never have to guess when Ben’s food dish is empty, but he doesn’t interrupt me (wake me up during the night), to make this happen. In the mean time he does something else (like sleep), and waits for an appropriate time (I know – this is odd for a cat). Let people know when you need something – respectfully.  
  • Ben lets people know when they are doing something he likes. This is great positive reinforcement and shows he is not taking them for granted… he’s showing respect.
  • Ben isn’t defensive – but can defend when it’s appropriate.
  • Being a black cat has it’s disadvantages at night. From time to time Ben gets under my feet. If he gets an accidental kick Ben accepts my apology with ease and does not hold a grudge (note: I’ve learned to apologize immediate when I realize I’ve done something wrong).
  • Ben exercises regularly – he wrestles with my dog Lex… who has also taught me Business Lessons.
  • Ben gets plenty of sleep… although I would suggest 20 hours a day is counterproductive for most business people.
  • Ben sleeps with the boss – which I would not recommend as normal business behaviour.

Summary

I believe the key is for organizations to help their employees find a respectful balance between personality, awareness of their surroundings and the people they work with. I also believe this balance is what is often compromised; and it’s not limited to one generation. Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y people… people of all generations have difficulty finding a balance between awareness, respect and empathy (Emotional Intelligence: self-mastery (self-awareness and self-regulation), plus social intelligence), and ongoing business objectives.

Ben is more self-centered and a bit less outgoing than my dog Lex, yet he still is attentive, respectful and kind to anyone I bring into my home or office. He also keeps them entertained – another benefit of  having pets at work. This is his / their base personalities. I believe Ben’s Emotional Intelligence and self-mastery is in part due to a healthy home/work environment and how we communicate (verbal and non-verbal) with each other.  The result is an excellent example of Organizational Effectiveness and Workplace Harmony.

Conclusion

People often comment how well-balanced and friendly my pets are. It’s not like they had a privileged youth.  Lex was a rescue puppy and Ben was a one year old barn cat. But, both learned that they could trust their new homes or when I bring my pets to work. Even though there are boundaries (Lex doesn’t get up on furniture and Ben doesn’t get up on tables (except my office desk), they are both open and respectful. This I believe is the nurture intersection of Organizational Behaviour (OB).  OB and Emotional Intelligence isn’t just nature… they are of course nurture also.

Happy communicating, creating workplace harmony and reducing employee turnover.

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About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

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