Getting along with others – lessons from a deer feeding station

I have been watching our local wildlife for some time and I’ve observed some behavior that may have some applicability to life in general, possibly to work situations as well.

My first conclusion is that it’s easy to get along with those who don’t threaten our place in the food chain. It’s more difficult when others threaten to dimish our food supply, or steal our place in the limelight.

My second conclusion is that animals want the attention of other animals, just as people strive to get attention from other people.

When different species share the feeding trough, the sense of
competition occasionally vanishes. In the photo above two deer eat
placidly while two squirrels stuff their faces with corn. I have seen
deer and raccoons sharing the same feeding trough, while one deer was
trying to drive other deer away.

In this back yard feeding area, the apparency of scarcity is the
driver in most conflicts. When I used to put out a small amount of
corn, there was continual tension in the feeding area and flailing
hooves would greet other deer crowding in to eat.

When I put in a larger feeding trough, the tensions lessened, but
there were some deer that insisted on enforcing a pecking order. I
deliberately frustrated these alpha females and males by adding
additional feeding stations so that any hungry deer could eat

The dominant animals went crazy running from one feeding station to
another trying to control access to the food supply. The lesser animals
would simply melt away and reform at another feeding station.  What was
happening was that these lesser deer were eating together and ignoring
the alpha animals. As a result, the alpha animals were being left out
of the normal feeding time social activity. The alpha deer soon lapsed
into apathy and changed their aggressive behavior towards the other
deer, at least while they were my back yard.

Deer are very social creatures and they touch frequently and eat
with muzzles very close together. Many times I have seen four or five
deer eating with heads together even though there was much open space
at the feeding trough.

When the alpha animals were being ignored by the group at large,
their pecking order enforcement activity seemed to collapse. The other
deer just didn’t seem to care.

In a work situation or in life situations, there are those who fear
a scarcity of admiration or attention. Every action they take is for
the purpose of gaining attention or admiration. It’s all about them,
you see.

They will attempt to restrict access to their presence. They select
who they will eat with and socialize with in an effort to make their
company valuable. By excluding you from activities, they hope to exert
control over you.

If you recognize what they are doing and don’t take it personally,
you can turn the tables on them. Develop your own contacts and make
friends based upon your own needs. Do not do this in retaliation for
being snubbed, that is not how this works. Just do not pay them any
special attention. People who are set on maintaining a popularity-based
pecking order are doing it so that others will admire them and compete
for their attention.

When you ignore them, you suddenly become interesting to them. If
you keep on ignoring them, they may even begin attacking you so that
you will pay attention to them. Don’t take the bait. Find other things
and people to admire. Be politely bored, if you wish, but don’t give
them any more attention than anyone else. Don’t natter about them,
don’t talk about them, just get on with your life and be as creative as
you can be.

If you manage to do this, you will find that you have become
interesting to a lot of different people. Enjoy yourself, but remain
interested in other people and you will never lack for company.

You will find that it is far better to be interested than to be interesting. It is also saner.

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