Can your veterinary clients hear you now?

In our high-tech world of e-mail, Facebook, and smartphones, it's getting harder every day to grab the attention of the people you work with—and people you serve. Consider these tips to make sure veterinary clients and co-workers hear your message every time.
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Dec 01, 2011

Beep. Buzz. Ring. Tweet! Text, e-mail, and cell phones have created a whole new world of competition as you struggle to make yourself heard among the spam, junk mail, and telemarketers fighting for attention. If you feel that clients and co-workers are tuning you out, it's time to take the static out of your words and create targeted messages that grab attention and offer results.

Tailoring your message is a good place to start, says Brenda Tassava, CVPM, CVJ, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and hospital administrator at Broad Ripple Animal Clinic in Indianapolis. People have different communication styles—some need just the facts, while others prefer the details, including all of the possible outcomes, Tassava says. That's why her team uses the True Colors profiling program to learn about each team member's communication preferences. In fact, Tassava wrote a veterinary-specific version of the personality identification system called Canine Colors and serves as a master certification coach. (Click here to learn more about Canine Colors.)

"Whenever we need to express ourselves or communicate with another person, it's our personal responsibility to adapt to that person's communication style," Tassava says. "So everyone should become a bit more diverse and versatile."

Communication tends to shut down when people get frustrated because others don't communicate the same way, she says. That's why it's important to get outside of your own comfort zone and help make that communication happen.

"If you can be aware and open yourself up to speak and express yourself more in line with the way other people receive and process information, you can become a much better communicator," she says.

Check yourself

If you're not feeling heard, it's time for a quick gut check. Have you developed any bad communication habits that encourage others to tune you out? Consider these characters and make sure you steer clear of their bad behaviors:

  • Glenda Gossip knows all the up-to-the-second juiciest tales, and she'll spill everything the second the boss's back is turned. But don't turn your back on Glenda, or before you know it you'll play a starring role in her next lineup of stories. "When you talk about co-workers and say things you wouldn't say face-to-face to a person, that's a real problem," Tassava says. "And the people who hear you start to wonder, 'What are you saying about me when I'm not in the room?'"

A good guideline: If you feel you need to stop talking when someone enters the room, you're gossiping.

  • Ira Interruption interjects his opinion into every conversation—often before you're done speaking. He likes to think he's one step ahead when he finishes your sentences, but you just can't wait to leave him behind. "Interrupting others is a bad habit," Tassava says. "It really shuts people down if you don't let others express themselves thoroughly."
  • Cora Chronic-Complainer has a long list of gripes, and you're not going to scoot out of any conversation until she's told you every one. "If you're chronically complaining but you never take your problems to the person who can help fix them, you become a very ineffective person," Tassava says. "And eventually, people don't want to hear it anymore. They don't want to be around it."