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Feeling your way along
Veterinary practice is never just the medicine
Now I want a show of hands: How many of you are ready, today, to admit that the common problem in all those difficult conversations and conflicts with clients, team members, friends, family, and the guy next door … is you? My colleagues at Advanstar Veterinary—and my wife and 3-year-old daughter—regularly force me to confront this reality, so I'm getting more comfortable with it each year that goes by. There's always something I'm doing I could do better, or there's something I said that I could phrase better, or there's something else I should know about how people think and feel that I'm clueless about right now. Yeah, it's that last one that's usually the toughest.
So do yourself a favor. After you finish here, go right to page 24 and let the emotionally intelligent Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, explain why your EQ may be more important than your IQ in talking to pet owners, working with team members, and managing the important relationships in your life. It's a lesson I need to hear every so often.
A lesson you probably don't need to hear again is how important talk on the Internet is to your practice's success. Know what doesn't help? Negative reviews—sometimes from well-meaning clients, sometimes from not-so-well-meaning serial complainers. Join Dr. Jeff Werber starting on page 32 as he explains how to approach and resolve negative complaints with respect and positivity.
If it's not disastrous conversations and ugly Internet comments that have you worried, don't fret. You can dive into real troubles—like earthquakes, tornados, and tsunamis—by being a crucial part of your community's reaction to crises. Starting on page 36, Dr. Laura McLain showcases organizations where you can train for, learn about, and join in the efforts of others veterinarians and professionals to help communities in the event of earthquake, flood, or wildfire. And a veterinarian who survived the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo., explains what he tells clients and colleagues alike about the best way to prepare for the worst for pets.
Let me close with a little EQ knowledge of my own. I'm not a skilled conflict resolver, contract negotiator, or dispute defuser, but I know one really good trick everybody should employ (and most of you probably do). It's actually the title of this column, "Checking in." You can easily create trust and goodwill and build and maintain crucial lines of communication by making time each day and each week to "check in" with each and every one of your team members. You can start improving your emotional intelligence today by just starting to listen more about what people need, what people want, what people fear, and what makes people happy.
Just think! You've spent years working to interpret the yelps and pants of multiple species. With people, you can sit back and just listen to them explain, express, and emote. Easy-peasy!
Brendan Howard, Editor