3 Essential Skills for Professional Excellence


Adopting these skills can make a real difference in the level of success you can achieve.


In school, aspiring veterinarians are taught the hard but much-needed skills of veterinary medicine: anatomy and physiology, surgical techniques, diagnostics, animal restraint, physical examination, and so on. But soft skills, now referred to as “essential skills,” are just as important. Examples of essential skills include a good attitude; client and team communication and interaction, including tone of voice and choice of words; body language; compassion; integrity; and listening skills.

As a business and executive coach in the veterinary industry I regularly hear about the obstacles veterinary professionals face. Communication, or lack thereof, and conflict management are 2 of the key challenges repeatedly brought up. Many practices fall into the conflict avoidance or conflict intolerance category—ignoring the conflict and hoping that it goes away. Negative and toxic behaviors are a constant struggle.

Successful veterinary practices, on the other hand, have a healthy, nurturing culture that allows each person to be their best self. This enables team members to be at their best for each other and ultimately do their best work for the clients and animals they serve.


  • 3 Steps to Resolving Conflict
  • Clients Listen to Non-Verbal Communication

Could your veterinary practice use some help in this area? Institute these 3 essential skills, and watch how they improve not only your professional success but also the level of medicine your practice offers.

Check your energy at the door.

We all arrive at work each day with “stuff”—things we’re dealing with in our personal lives, such as an argument with a spouse or ongoing medical issue. Take a few minutes before you head into work to ask yourself: “What energy am I bringing into this space? Is it negative? Am I angry? Am I frustrated? How can I bring positive energy into work?” Remember that the energy you bring into the practice can set the tone for the entire day.

Be a team player every single day.

Because veterinary medicine can be a high-stress, emotional environment, it is important that veterinary teams function like a well-oiled machine. Remember that you are essential to the team. Do your part and do it well.

I often use the analogy of a boat when describing a high-performing team: The vision for the practice is on the horizon. Everyone on the team needs to be on board and in their seats, picking up their oars and rowing in unison to reach that desired vision.

Earn and give respect.

Our core values inform how we behave, how we make decisions, how we treat each other, and how we conduct business. Respect is a core value in my life. It is crucial to employee engagement, creating efficiencies, productivity, and employee retention and achieving a healthy, happy culture. Ask yourself how you demonstrate respect. Are your own actions deserving of respect?

As CEO of Halcyon Coaching, Mr. Linardi is a professional certified coach who supports veterinary professionals in amplifying their individual performance, thereby maximizing the overall performance of the practice. A corporate officer of Veterinary Medical Center in Easton, Maryland, he loves working with veterinary practice owners and teams to create phenomenal success in their personal and professional lives.

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