While these animal metaphors can be useful, we need to be careful not to reduce people to convenient stereotypes based on their behavior in a given moment. We morph into different animals in different situations. I strive for dolphin-like collaboration in much of my life, but the cable company somehow brings out my inner shark.
So while I’m still not buying the revisionist cuddly shark theory, I find it helpful to be aware that how people behave in a highly stressful moments is not a representation of the totality of their character. A good mediator will help parties become three-dimensional beings in the eyes of their adversary….he or she will provide a safe space to let the menagerie roam swim, crawl, and gallop free.
Seriously though, don’t mess with sharks. Get a load of this one: