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It Is Nice To Have A Good Dog Around

by Phyllis Pollack
February 2011

From the Blog of Phyllis G. Pollack.

Phyllis  Pollack

As I have admitted in the past, I am a dog lover. Well, it now seems that there is “scientific” proof to go along with my informal analysis that our 4 pawed pals aid the collaborative process. Last August 12, 2010, The Economist published a study, entitled Manager’s Best Friend”, showing that dogs improve office productivity. As any dog owner knows, “dogs act as social catalysts, helping their owners forge intimate, long-term relationships with other people.” (Id.) This is no surprise to any dog owner: how many times while walking the dog have we stopped to engage in conversation about the dog or at least received comments about our canine friend as we pass by?

The researchers found that “. . .the mere presence of a canine in the office [makes] people collaborate more effectively.” (Id.) To come to this result, the researchers conducted two experiments. In one, they brought 12 groups of four individuals together and told them they needed to collaborate on a 15-second advertisement for a made up product. Some of these groups had a dog amongst them while others did not. The researchers found that those who had the dog in their midst while collaborating on the advertisement believed there to be more trust, cohesion and intimacy within their group than in those groups in which the dog was not present.

In the second experiment, the researchers, using 13 groups, had each group play prisoner’s dilemma. In this game, each volunteer within the group had been charged with a “crime” and the object was to see if each individual – on their own violation and without consulting with any other member of the group – would either snitch on their teammates or remain silent. The researchers found that “having a dog around made volunteers 30% less likely to snitch than those who played without one.” (Id.)

Thus, this study showed what we “knew” all along – it is good to have a dog around when working collaboratively. Having our four-pawed friend around will greatly improve our chances of success.

Just think what my dog’s presence would do for my mediation practice. . . .! If I could only get him past the building security guard!

. . . Just something to think about.


Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as well as their own needs better than any mediator or arbitrator. She does not impose her views or make decisions for the parties. Rather, Phyllis assists the parties in creating options that meet the needs and desires of both sides.  When appropriate, visual aids are used in preparing discussions and illustrating possible solutions. On the other hand, she is not averse to being proactive and offering a generous dose of reality, particularly when the process may have stalled due to unrealistic expectations of attorney or client, a failure to focus on needs rather than demands, or when one or more parties need to be reminded of the potential consequences of their failure to reach an agreement.

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