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Managing emotions in the workplace (Proceedings)
Every day in a veterinary hospital we are faced with situations, people, tasks and animals that cause us to have emotional reactions.
Every day in a veterinary hospital we are faced with situations, people, tasks and animals that cause us to have emotional reactions. These emotions can vary from anger at seeing an animal that looks like it has been mistreated to sheer love and joy at the new litter of 3-day old puppies and their proud momma. We can feel frustration at a fellow co-worker who “stole your thunder” with a great idea or we can feel happiness and pride for working side by side with amazing team members.
We can also have fear about the status of our job when we know business has been down. Or we can feel surprised by the note of thanks and gift card that you received in your mailbox at work for a job well done! This list can go on and on (for both positive and negative reactions, I hope!) to describe daily life in a veterinary practice. We work in an amazing industry; however, the emotional rollercoaster that we ride can take its toll on us as individuals and as a team.
In this presentation, we will focus on real-life “sagas” that occur in your practice and, using the collective wisdom of the group, work our way through how to best manage the emotions in each situation. In order to provide some background information to arm ourselves with tools for working our way through these situations, we will review:
1. The 4 “building blocks” of Emotional Intelligence (as described by Daniel Goleman)
a. Self-awareness exists when you are able to appropriate perceive and display your own emotions and recognize their impact on others.
b. Self-management involves controlling your own emotions and directing them in a positive way when needed.
c. Social awareness is the ability to sense, understand, and react to others' emotions appropriately.
d. Relationship management is the ability to inspire, influence, and help others manage their own emotions while establishing supportive relationships with them.
a. Definition of conflict (from Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)): Conflict is any situation in which your concerns or desires differ from those of another person.
b. Common reasons for conflict:
i. Personality differences
ii. Generational differences
iii. Lack of clarity on vision/mission/values/goals
iv. Confusion about roles in the hospital
vi. Lack of communication
vii. Lack of leadership
viii. Experiential differences, differing backgrounds, and different perceptions
c. The 5 Modes of Conflict Management (from the TKI, www.kilmanndiagnostics.com):
3. Emotional Labor and Emotional Dissonance – In the veterinary hospital we are asked, as service organization employees, to wear a smile and provide a hospitable environment for our clients. However, there are ramifications to our own emotional health in doing so if we are not careful. As leaders in our own practices (yes, you can be a leader even if your title doesn't say so!), you can help ensure that the effects of emotional dissonance are minimized.
a. Definition of Emotional Labor (from www.wikipedia.org): a form of emotional regulation wherein workers are expected to display certain emotions as part of their job, and to promote organizational goals. The intended effects of these emotional displays are on other, targeted people, who can be clients, customers, subordinates or co-workers.
b. Definition of Emotional Dissonance: a term used to describe what happens when the emotions one actively displays is out of accordance with what one actively feels.
4. Emotional Contagion – Did you know that the impact of the emotions we feel every day affects not only our own performance at work, but also the performance of those around us? Studies have proven that emotions are contagious and can be actively “spread” around an organization like any infectious disease. So, like that puppy with parvovirus that we've quarantined in isolation, can we quarantine that team member who is spewing anger in the middle of the treatment room? The answer is no…however, there are some tools for handling this!
b. Culture of trust and openness
c. Mutual respect
d. Feedback and support systems
e. Establishing boundaries
f. Recognizing symptoms of burnout/compassion fatigue
g. Building trust and having fun in the workplace – Review study by Karl & Peluchette
5. Stress Management
a. Take care of yourself first
b. Learn to say no
c. 4 legs of the stool
d. Know when enough is enough
e. Be passionate about what you do!
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