Vaibhav asks: I can’t talk much with people, especially girls. I can talk with my friends and their parents easily, but with other people it’s hard for me. I’m scared of street dogs also. So can you talk me out of it?
Hi Vaibhav –
Regarding speaking to girls, of course it’s always harder to be “at ease” when you’re with someone where there’s more at stake. You’re fine with your friends and their parents because you’re comfortable in the knowledge that they’ll accept you as you are, to the complete degree that you want. But if that’s not the case, and you want and need especially to be accepted by them, and in particular ways, absolutely you’ll be stymied. I’m great at greeting strangers in a park, but if one of them is holding a hot Italian Sub sandwich, I’m going to be a lot more nervous around them, and worry about how I’m appearing to them, so they’ll like me and want to give me… well… all of it. And yes, Vaibhav, to a large portion of the population, girls are a hot Italian Sub sandwich!!!
My main trick for talking with people you don’t know and you want to accept you is to ask them about themselves. Get them talking about their interests, their passions, their dislikes, their views, whatever you can get. And you know what? They’ll like you! They’ll walk away afterwards and say “Wow, that Vaibhav is a great conversationalist! I really enjoyed our talk!” Now of course at some point you’ll want to talk about yourself too, but hopefully they’ll make that happen by asking you questions. If they don’t, they might not be the girls you really want to hang around with.
But the ones who do are the girls you should hang with! The ones who actually are interested in you, and enjoy what you have to say. But if you master the art of asking girls about themselves, then even the self-centered ones will like you at least a little!
Okay, now about the street dogs: You’re Right! Lots of dogs are unfriendly and even mean, and you’re absolutely right to be cautious about them. The trick is to learn how to deal with them, and how to read their feelings, so you can avoid getting bitten, and get some nice licks instead. So here are some general rules:
1) It’s okay to smile at strange dogs, but keep your mouth closed! When dogs show each other their teeth, that’s a sign of anger or wanting a fight. And some dogs who don’t know you will see your teeth as a snarl too! So keep those lips shut over them.
2) That dog is more scared of you than you are of it. So you want to talk in its language, to tell it that you’re friendly. One of the best ways is to make a little whining sound. You can do that by literally whining, or by making a funny high noise between your lips (very hard to describe in writing!), or even by making little kissing sounds. Any of them will likely tell the dog you want to be friends (but doesn’t guarantee that the dog will feel the same way!)
3) Approach any strange dog slowly. Watch their body language. Don’t look away, but also don’t stare them in the eye the whole time, as that also might look like you’re picking a fight.
4) Put your hand out for the dog to sniff. But… and this is VERY important!… hold your hand out with your wrist down, away from the dog. In other words, lead with the top of your wrist. The reason for this is in case the dog suddenly bites you – you have very few nerves and muscles in the top of your wrist, and the bite will hurt but not do any real damage to you; but a bite on the underside of your wrist could end up cutting the muscles that control your hand and fingers! Yikes!!!
5) Stay very still while the dog sniffs your hand. You could even say some soft calm things like “Nice doggie” to relax the pooch even more.
6) If the dog sniffs and walks away, that’s probably the end of the conversation. But if it wants to be friends, the dog will sniff more of you, or even give you a lick. If that happens, you can try petting it. But still, protect the underside of your wrist! There’s always a chance that you could touch a sensitive part of the dog and it could suddenly react.
7) And last but not least, on that first meeting, don’t “go for more.” Hugging dogs is one of the great joys of being a human, but remember that you’re a lot bigger than that little creature, and the hug you want to give that cuddly ball of fur might seem terrifying to it. So for that first day, unless the dog is really begging for it, no scratches, cuddles, or hugs. (Of course puppies are a total exception to this, and will love all those, though they’ll most certainly bite you as well, but in playful adoration).
8) Now everything I’ve said assumes you’re seeing a friendly dog. If a dog growls or barks at you, try to stay calm and just step away. Most likely it doesn’t want to hurt you, it’s just scared. Try to not make any sudden moves, just say “Okay, sorry pooch” and walk the other direction. If you run, that might encourage it to chase you and even bite.
9) But of course, if the dog is chasing you, then my advice is to get away from it any way you can. That’s sure what I do!
Vaibhav, for a lot of men, the two kinds of beings they can meet that they most want to befriend and touch are women and dogs. So it makes sense that those are the two that scare them the most too! You’re not alone at all.
And ironically, the rule with the vast majority of both is the same. Be friendly, be respectful, pay attention to what they do and say… and you will have a life blessed with wonderful and beautiful acquaintances, friends, and companions!