Today's Veterinary Business

AUG 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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56 Today's Veterinary Business Leadership • Finish the session thinking something along these lines: "Well, I obviously don't have the full hang of this, but I'll try again tomorrow." Despite the regular experi- ence of feeling like nothing much was happening during any of my meditation sessions, I eventually began to notice aspects of my life that were changing for the better as a result of meditation. Gradually, I began to take everything a little less seriously, feel more relaxed even in stressful circumstances and see more clearly how I react to situ- ations that I perceived as negative. These changes felt very subtle, especially at first, but over time it has felt like I've been start- ing to strengthen some helpful natural capacity that I didn't even know existed before. My family was the first to really notice the changes and to let me know that they definitely preferred the meditating version of me over the original model. Starting a Meditation Practice Meditation can have many differ- ent approaches. Experimenting with alternative styles will probably make sense to anyone trying to develop their own meditation prac- tice. For a simple, concise guide to basic breathing meditation, check out A Life of Productivity article at A number of meditation apps, such as Headspace and Calm, are available to help demystify the med- itation process and get you started. A few words of advice for anyone embarking on a meditation practice: • Consistency matters. Daily repetition, even if for only 10 minutes a day, can make a big difference. • Keep it simple, especially at first. Find a comfortable sitting position rather than trying to assume an unfamil- iar posture. Sitting in a chair with feet on the floor is fine. • Be easy on yourself. Let go of expectations and just show up each day and see what unfolds or seemingly doesn't. • Try guided meditation, such as through the Headspace app, to develop some famil- iarity with the process, and then go from there. Getting the Goods In 1967, Howard Cosell and Mu- hammed Ali shared a memorable moment in the history of sports broadcasting. As Ali boasted about his confidence that he would beat anyone, Cosell teasingly accused Ali of being extremely truculent. With- out missing a beat, Ali responded, "Whatever truculent means, if it's good, I'm that." Which brings us to our last point about meditation practice: We can get the goods from medi- tation without ever having to fully understand it. While seeing scien- tific and anecdotal evidence of the benefits of meditating might be helpful so that we know it is worth the effort, there is no need to understand the mechanics of how those benefits are actually created in order to experience those bene- fits for ourselves. The bottom line is this: Used as little as 10 minutes a day, med- itation starts to help us move in the direction of our "flow" state. For leaders, this means going through the day with a greater sense of calm and focus that helps both them and their teams perform at higher levels and enjoy more positive experiences togeth- er. For all of us, it means more of the good stuff that life has to offer for the benefit of ourselves, our colleagues and families. Go With the Flow co-columnist Dr. Jeff Thoren is president of VetPartners and founder of Gifted Leaders, a Phoenix company offering leadership and coaching services. Co-columnist Trey Cutler is a San Luis Obispo, California, attorney specializing in veterinary business matters. Leadership GO WITH THE FLOW hear the client's perspective and ultimately work toward a fair and agreeable solution. Listen but make no attempt to justify or problem-solve. This is the time to let the client vent and for you to gather facts and truly understand the client's perspective. Use active listening techniques to ensure the client feels heard and un- derstood. Often, this step is enough to satisfy an upset pet owner. Be emotionally level: "I can understand why you are frus- trated (or disappointed or nervous)." Be respectful, but do not patronize. Apologize for what needs an apology. Take respon- sibility when appropriate and be careful to not throw teammates under the bus. If an apology is un- necessary, you can always say, "I am sorry you are upset" or "I am sorry we made you feel this way." (Regarding apologies, this is where my recommendations and a lawyer's advice will contradict. If you are tackling a potential malpractice case, look to counsel for best practices. I believe that honesty, transparency and humility are the best approach. I believe that avoidance or defensiveness to hide or protect mistakes breeds client distrust and encourages an employ- ee environment where lying in the face of controversy is acceptable.) After completing steps 1 through 4, explain to the client the hospital's perspective. The goal should be a mutual un- derstanding and a win-win out- come. Humanizing the hospital's rationale, as opposed to discussing policy or even the law, is often the most effective approach. Ask the client to pro- pose a resolution, such as "What can I do to make this right for you?" Small concessions often provide a positive return on investment. (Again, first seek counsel when addressing a potential malpractice case, as refunds or no- charge services can be viewed as admitting fault.) In addition, take heed to pre- vent rewarding bad behavior. Keep the conversation focused on what can be done, not what cannot be done. Come to a mutual agreement, ideally with a win-win outcome. Let the client know what is being done to prevent similar situations — for example, through team training or computer corrections. Thank the client for the feedback and candor. Time to Decompress Whew, it's over! Breathe, stretch, vent if necessary and then shake it off. Make notes in the chart to doc- ument the conversation. Be factual, and ensure that any promises made are detailed and that an action plan following up on those promises is initiated. Remember that an upset client's most outrageous accusa- tions often contain pearls of truth that can be used to improve client relations and patient care. Finally, for the sake of guarding against burnout and compassion fatigue, teach employees to not take such conversations personally and to instead reward themselves for a job well done. Even if the conflict did not resolve perfectly, take consola- tion in the bravery exhibited and recognize that complaints are far outnumbered by the many sat- isfied clients who regularly show appreciation and gratitude. When preventive measures are taken and teams are well-equipped to navigate the perils of customer service, client conflict can become just a minor burden of doing busi- ness and one shared by a united team of veterinary professionals. 2 3 4 Take Charge columnist Abby Suiter is practice manager at Daniel Island Animal Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. 5 6 7 Continued from Page 54

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