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Secrets of Success

Cats Don’t Bark and Dogs Don’t Meow

David was beside himself.

Martha, his top producer, was at it again. Not returning customer phone calls, being late for meetings and not finishing her paperwork.

“What, he lamented, “am I going to do?”

“I have addressed these issues with her repeatedly.”

“Every time we talk she promises to do better. She changes her behavior for a couple of days and then we’re back to the same problem. If I wasn’t practically bald I’d pull my hair out!”

It was clear to me David was not dealing with what was actually happening but rather was wishing for a behavior for which there was no evidence.

“David, I explained, you’re asking a cat to bark and a dog to meow.”


Two months ago, Charlie renegotiated his commission structure with his boss. In the past, they would agree on a new structure and even put everything in writing so there would be no misunderstandings. And then his boss would attempt to change the terms citing special circumstances. This time Charlie was sure they had an agreement everyone could live with.

Last week Charlie called.

He was livid.

“They are trying to change the terms again. Just like they did last time!”

I reminded Charlie that his boss’ actions were frustrating but not surprising.

 Cats don’t bark and dogs don’t meow.

Here’s the Deal

 We all want things to be the way we want them to be. We even want this when there is overwhelming evidence that what we want not only is not happening, it has never happened and may never happen.

Although some people can and do change, the reality is that most people’s behaviors are pretty constant and predictable.

Dogs bark.

Cats meow.

People are who they are.

People do what they do.

“But why, we ask, do some people refuse to cooperate and repeatedly go back on their word?”

The short answer is because they can.

We let them.

We may pout, complain, threaten and cajole, but at the end of the day we do nothing about their behavior.

Instead, we look at our behavior.

“I keep my agreements.”

“I return phone calls.”

“I’m on time.”

“I behave in a certain way, and if I just give them enough time they will behave that      way too.”


But probably not.

What to Do?

 Stop being a victim.

Start the meeting without them.

Call them on their behavior if they change the rules.

Will it work every time?

Absolutely not.

But it will work sometimes; and it will definitely send a message that when it comes to dealing with you, they need to pay a little more attention.

More importantly it may empower you and give you a sense of predictability and control over the situation.

It will cause you to examine whether allowing certain behaviors is self-respecting.

If you find over time that their behavior is, in fact, sanctioned by the organization you work for, you may decide it’s time to take your talents elsewhere.


Hopefully most of the people in your universe are reasonable, fair-minded, reliable, responsible and approachable.

Learn to spot those who are not.

Don’t try to make them something they are not, but don’t allow yourself to be victimized by what they do or don’t do.

 Cats meow.

Dogs bark.






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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488