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Be more Bertie

On channeling Bertie when dealing with negative people and rewarding good behaviour

Hold up, who the heck is Bertie exactly?

Well, Bertie is my Golden Retriever. He’s a big soft goofball with a heart that’s about 10 times more than I probably deserve. He’s filled FULL of love.

Sometimes this manifests itself in ways that I kinda wish it didn’t… sitting on guests, jumping up at people for a hug, trying to take my arm out my socket when he sees one of his girlfriends (he’s definitely NOT in the keep ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen camp).

He is most definitely a lover, not a fighter.

Being More Bertie

Now I’ve clarified, you’ve probably noticed is not the article on affordances* you thought it was going to be. Mainly because, I forgot to write that post as I’ve been caught up writing an ebook I’m launching this weekend.

But also because I’ve been talking with a few people this week about rewarding behaviour you want from someone.

Also, today is Bertie’s 3rd Birthday (sort of, he was born on the 29th of February). Yes, I’m a crazy dog lady who celebrates her dog’s birthday, he’s my fury kid.

There are two things I wanted to explain when I say, ‘Be more Bertie’. There’s rewarding good behaviour and ignoring the bad. Both of which I’m doing my best to learn from Mr B (he’s an awesome teacher).

I should probably also caveat that I really want to do both more.

Walk on by

Not everyone loves Bertie though. 

There are people in the village where I live that just hate dogs, which is fine I tend to avoid them when I can.

But worse for Bertie, there are dogs in the village that hate him. It’s normally the little yappy dogs that bark aggressively at him. Or worse, try to take chunks out of him.

95% of the time, when this happens, B and I are walking past them. He’s normally nonchalantly swishing his tail and being his usual bumbling Bertie self.

The looks he gets on his face when a yappy dog springs out and goes for him is somewhere in the region of ‘Dude, chill’ or ‘I didn’t deserve that’.

And do you know what, he didn’t.

What’s that got to do with real life?

Ever noticed how trolls appear out of nowhere with the sole purpose of spewing hate.

A lot of trolls go searching for threads they can jump in on and being, well, troll like. Just like Bertie, what’s been posted, is probably out there minding its own business when out of nowhere… BAM. Troll.

So what does "Be more Bertie" mean?

Well, when an ankle biter yappy dog appears out of nowhere and starts barking at Bertie. He’ll look startled, but he’ll keep on walking. He doesn’t get aggressive. He doesn’t bark back.

He knows when a dog is being unreasonable and just ignores it.

I definitely need to learn to ignore the bad things. Even if sometimes they are stupidly personal.

If I see a negative comment, I just need to walk the fuck on by. Sticking my metaphorical swishy tail in the air and sashay away.

Which leads me onto the good...

When repetition can be a good thing

As dogs, sadly can’t communicate with us (but wouldn’t we all love to know what they’re thinking?!?), training them is a bit of a challenge.

I can’t equate this to children as I don’t have any (and never will), but I guess it’s probably similar

Anyway, you have to teach dogs by repeating stuff and showing them what you want. You reward them for good behaviour and you tell them when they’ve been bad.

The more you reward them, the more likely they are to repeat the good behaviour.

Which reminded me of something someone once posted on twitter (it’s a good ‘un, don’t worry).

Carrots, not criticism

Rewarding behaviour you expect of someone.

Have you ever said to someone “about time” when they’ve done something you wanted them to do?

I know I have.

What would happen, instead of saying that, you just said “thank you”.

This really hit home with me.

I’ve been very quick to complain when something is bad, but have in the past been slow to say when something is good.

Constructive feedback, whether good or bad, helps us do better. Yet we don’t often reach out personally to people or businesses to say “you know what, you were just doing your job, but damn you did it well”.

Bertie’s reward for doing something I want him to do is a carrot. He’s got the canine equivalent of inflammatory bowel disease, which means he can’t eat meat unless it’s processed down to the molecular level. So his treats are a carrot.

If we collectively praised and rewarded more when someone does something you really want them to do, I think the world would be a kinder place.

A final note about Bertie

I’m super proud of my dog. He’s taught me a lot, that I can be loved unconditionally is probably the biggest one.

He can also be the biggest asshole on the planet, but he’s my family.  He gets me out the house every day.  He fills the house with love when it would otherwise seem empty and he’s the most joyful thing in my life. 

So when it comes to trolls, be it keyboard warriors or yappy dogs, I’m going to try to be a bit more Bertie. Why not join me.

Affordances are little details that exist in the real world and the digital world.

Ever pulled a door when you should have pushed, simply because it had a handle on it? That’s an affordance done badly.

When it comes to web design, an affordance is where you place something everyone expects to be in a certain place, or called a certain thing.

So when you move it, and get totally bamboozled, it’s an affordance gone wrong.  It is also a topic I plan on covering in far more detail soon. 


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