POWER SAPPERS: Part I – Fidgeting

by Camilla Gray-Nelson

Your dog is looking for a leader. A powerful figure with quiet confidence, in whom he can safely put his trust and follow. Powerful “alpha” dogs are quiet and direct. So are powerful people. When you become that kind of leader in your dog’s eyes, he will listen to you, follow and obey you.

Often when women work on becoming a leader, they are undermined by certain personal habits that sap them of the power they are eager to gain.  The worst part is, women don’t even realize they are sabotaging their own power. This post will focus on one power sapping habit: fidgeting.

Powerful people don’t fidget.  Fidgeting takes different forms, from physical to verbal, but in all its variations fidgeting says, “I’m uncomfortable, uncertain and self-conscious right now”.   What kind of leadership statement is that?

Physical Fidgeting

Physical fidgeting takes many forms, from playing with your hair, to biting your fingernails, to tapping your toe or your pencil, squirming in your seat, and so on and so forth.  Watch Oprah, Hillary Clinton, or film clips of Margaret Thatcher.  You’ll not find a hair-twirler among them!  They sit or stand quietly, and their movements are deliberate.  They may, in fact, be feeling nervous or stressed on the inside, but their outward demeanor does not reveal it.  Their outward appearance is one of calm, cool confidence.

When women attempt to train their dogs, they often fidget physically.  They will fuss with the leash, or move it around like a helicopter, walk fast to keep up with the dog, then slow down when he balks.  They’ll stoop to command, contort to be heard, reposition themselves in self-doubt, or start over…  Auugghhh!  No wonder the dog can’t figure out WHAT they want!

Verbal Fidgeting

Even more women fall prey to verbal fidgeting.  What do I mean by verbal fidgeting?  I mean that many women seem uncomfortable with silence, and fill the void with nervous or useless chatter.   By contrast, powerful people make a statement and let it sit there for maximum effect.  They don’t explain themselves, apologize, retract, revise or make useless conversation.  They say what they mean, and mean what they say.  Nothing says uncertainty like verbal fidgeting.

Think about the weakening effects of fidgeting – both physical and verbal – next time you work with your dog.  For that matter, think about it the next time you direct your employees, or your kids, or when asking your boss for a raise.  Avoid fidgeting, and see how much more effective you are!


About Camilla Gray-Nelson

When I started training dogs professionally, it was women who sought out my help. Responsibility for the family dog typically falls to them, after all. Their homes were in chaos; they were yelling at their dogs – and their kids – and couldn’t control either one. The life skills of personal power that I learned as a child (and assumed everyone else had, too), turned out to be rare among my clients. Since that time, it has been my personal goal to share Nature’s message of quiet power with women (and men) everywhere to help them become more effective not only with their dogs, but in their greater lives as well.

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