Positive Path Recommended Reading

Are you a dog, a cat or a rat?
By Karen Schmidt

The workplace is full of different people, all with their own unique way of looking at the world. Sometimes we observe people and only see their bad points . . . the things that don’t match our way of behaving. I like to think that everyone has positive qualities as well as areas for improvement. The secret to good interpersonal relationships is being able to recognise the differences and use them to your advantage.

So how do you start to understand these differences and find ways of seeing the good in people? One method I use to help me understand other people is by asking myself “what kind of animal are they?” I think you can divide most people into one of three categories: dogs, cats or rats. Each of these animals has positive points, even if some of them aren’t obvious.

So let’s see what kind of animals work in your organisation.

The dog is loyal, eager to please and enjoys the company of others. Dogs show their enthusiasm for life by wagging their tail and barking excitedly at the prospect of catching a ball or going for a walk. They have an excellent nose, the ability to be easily trained and a protective nature. The dog is also the eternal optimist . . . no matter how big the bone he is up to the challenge of burying it!

However, it is the dog’s tendency to dig holes and chew that also get him into trouble. Dogs are easily bored when they lack attention and will even chase their own tail for something to do. They are not known for their neatness or personal hygiene!

The cat is independent and curious, even a bit of a risk taker. They are agile creatures who seem to have the ability to get themselves out of tight situations at least 9 times! Their laid back personality combined with excellent grooming skills and fastidious habits mean they always appear cool, calm and collected.

Because the cat is so independent she can also come across as aloof and have a tendency to “use people” in pursuit of her purely selfish goals. That doesn’t mean she dislikes people but you need to stay on her good side. Watch out if you cross the path of an angry cat as she will lash out with those claws. As for training, forget about it: you don’t train cats, cats train you!

The rat is a survivor who can think fast, take advantage of situations and get by with very little. They are cunning creatures who can adapt and overcome in any situation. Their big ears help them to pick up on any opportunity going . . . and they are fast to react. Rats are not easily caught.

If you thought the cat had a poor reputation wait till you meet a rat. They are sneaky creatures who will steal anything that isn’t nailed down. The rat is prone to spread disease and has no respect for other people’s property. Once you get a couple of rats in residence their numbers quickly multiply.

Recognise anyone you work with? Can you see why dogs, cats and rats don’t always get along? Maybe you work for an organisation where everyone is the same type of animal . . . that can be a problem too. Imagine a group of dogs all looking for a leader and everyone wanting to follow or perhaps a bunch of rats all out for themselves.

The good news is that dogs, cats and rats can live together . . . they’ve been doing it for centuries. The secret is to harness the good qualities of each animal while down playing their faults. If you want to start building relationships with different people use some of this information to help you see how they see the world.

About the Author: Karen Schmidt is an award winning professional speaker, workshop leader and author who is on a mission to create fresh workplace attitudes that help people and organisations grow!. Karen believes you can increase productivity and bottom line results if your people have the right attitude in 5 key areas of: work, change, customers, people and managing. To find out more visit

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