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90 – May 2017


Wait, What and Life’s Other Essential Questions is the title of a new book by James Ryan Dean of The Harvard Graduate School of Education. It is also a statement made by many young people as they begin to tune in to what their parents are saying; especially when they hear the words, “You are grounded” or “You cannot use the car.”

People don’t listen carefully or hear much until something is said that peaks their interest, scares them or takes something away. It’s human nature. Then that question ‘wait, what?’ takes on a whole new meaning. As adults we would be wise to take ad- vantage of the benefit of asking Wait, what? when we don’t un- derstand what someone has said or asked us to do.

Wait, what? creates that delay in time, which gives you the op- portunity to ask for clarification. You should always ask questions before drawing conclusions or making a decision. Many people get involved in disagreements and conflicts because they did not use these two easy words.

Imagine if you asked your handler these two questions when he/she said something you needed clarity about. You would be better informed and mis-information would be kept to a mini- mum. Understanding what is actually being said helps you walk away knowing what it was they truly meant.

In the same vein, asking your breeder or owner wait, what? so you can completely understand or be understood makes for a bet- ter long-term relationship. Good communication skills create good relationship footing. The commitments you make to your owner or breeder will be more clearly understood if, when you have a question or hear a lot of information you don’t actually understand, you stop and ask ‘wait, what?’

The second benefit of the wait, what? question is that it will slow things down. This means there is less of a likelihood someone will jump to a conclusion. Failing to take a minute to wait often leads to disastrous misunderstandings. Waiting pays off in the short and long term. Wait precedes what be- cause taking time to wait a minute and think about what’s being said or what is trying to be communicated will help you hear what you might be missing.

Dean Ryan goes on to give four more tips that are invaluable in life and to the dog show community. His second tip has you ask yourself, I wonder – followed by – why or if?

When you ask yourself this question it signals you to take a minute to wonder about what was said. If you stop and wonder ‘why’ or ‘if’ it can stop the cascade effect of negativity that often surrounds misunderstood communications.
The third question is, ‘Couldn’t we at least…….?’

It is a statement that Ryan explains helps you get unstuck. These four words enable you to get past misunderstanding. Next time you find yourself in a disagreement try it, couldn’t we all at least…..agree that…?

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90 – May 2017

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