While visiting my friend, I attended an unpleasant but very frequent situation. While my friend was washing dishes in the sink, her husband was walking behind her like a cat in a cage and visibly irritating my friend.
Have you seen my keys? – there was a question that triggered the avalanche of rude words on her side and the quarrel.
As her husbands abruptly left the room, my friend remained visibly irritated at her sink. Soon, the story of the keys turned into full-blown drama.
I waited for her to calm down and her husband be far enough away and told her the story I learned in Mexico in an amusement park as I watched dolphin trainers.
I told her what it was doing an absolutely impossible thing. Although she may be right, the way in which she was trying to change her behavior was incorrect.
What she was trying to do with her husband was as if she was trying to teach the hyenas to make a pyrite on the command or chimpanzee to drive a skateboard.
She looked at me in complete wonder. I did not pay attention, I just continued.
I watched as professional trainers taught dolphins to flip and I think the same technique can produce results with a Balkan husband. I looked significantly at her stinging eyes and continued. The main lesson I learned from dolphin training was to reward the animal when does something good and ignore behavior that is not in line with what is desirable. First you have to understand that you cannot achieve that sea lion balances on the ball at the top of its nose while you’re nagging. The same rule applies to a Balkan husband.
So what can I do, how can I start? – she asked.
Go from the beginning. What is the most annoying thing in his behavior?
It makes me nervous that his dirty pants and socks are constantly thrown around the house instead of in the hamper.
This is called professional approximation – rewarding small steps in learning new behavior. Ask him kindly, while in the bathroom, to pass you his dirty socks to put them in the washing machine. When he brings them, ask him to put them in the machine because you decided to do something. When he does that, praise him as if he has done a very important thing. Then watch. After that he will certainly bring his dirty underwear and put it in the basket. Then kiss him. When the next time he remember all this, reward him with something he most likes. After that you go on.
You cannot expect a bear to learn to ride a bicycle in just one session, just as you cannot expect another person to change their behavior, praising that one time they put their socks in a hamper. When the bear makes a first step, the trainer first rewards it, then looks for another step, and then an even bigger step and so on.
Every time she starts communicating with her husband, she commends the praise of some small procedure: if he only drove for a prescribed kilometer, he did not bang at the traffic light when the green light came on or he arrived in time for her at the end of the working hours. I continued the conversation with my friend.
The second step is the transformation of one type of behavior into another. I listened to a professional trainer describing how he taught a great African parrot to stop landing on his head and shoulders. He did it by training him to get down to the ground. When the bird moved towards him, he banned her from the prize to land on the ground. The bird could not at the same time land on the head where it was intended and on the ground to collect the prize. The coach has transformed the undesirable behavior into a rewarding behavior. The award is crucial in transforming one process into another.
What can I do while my husband is nervously walking behind my back while cooking?
You just ask him to cut your parsley, or give him a cheese, give him any simple charge, and then reward him with praise. And you can use the whole situation for a constructive conversation in a pleasant tone.
The next day she listened to my advice and tried. Immediately she called me to boast about how the experiment was fruitful and she was visibly happy. The first and second lessons have been learned – praise as a stimulus and transform the unwanted behavior into desirable.
We’ve gone to step three. When the dolphin does something wrong, the coach does not respond in any way. He stands still, not looking at the dolphin, and then makes the same command to him. The point is that every answer, positive or negative, stimulates the same behavior. If behavior does not cause any response, it usually disappears.
It was a matter of time before my friend’s husband made some wrong step, at that moment my friend adhered to our agreement. She ignored him. The absence of her reaction at the start erased his primary reaction to do something out of the way. Later he spontaneously stopped and tried to do similar things.
Not adding significance to behavior that is not acceptable is extinguished the same, and praise of the desirable behavior causes the next good. Transformation of bad behaviors works well with positive stimulation where all senses are involved in order to cause the pleasantness or, rather, the impossibility of refusal, with the obligation reward. So you have with children and with pets, and neither adults do we differ much from them.
I know that all this takes a lot of discipline in order to maintain inner peace, but at least try, the results are immediate.