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Axing the rumor mill


FIRSTLINE

Help! One of our veterinarians always says we have a zero-tolerance policy for gossip, but she's the worst! She talks about clients and staff members all the time. What should we do?

—Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,


Roger Cummings
Ouch! Leaders often suffer from the same inconsistency between their behaviors and their words that parents do. My advice: Approach your boss about her behavior in the same way you'd want her to approach you with criticism. For example:
  • Don't confront her in public.
  • Provide specific examples of behavior you believe violates the policy.
  • Talk about the problem, not the person. So you want to avoid "you" statements and make sure you don't say anything that sounds accusatory.
  • Talk about how the problem affects the practice and your team's client and patient service.

It's best if one person asks to meet with the veterinarian privately. During the meeting say how much team members appreciate the no-gossiping policy. Provide a few specific examples of the doctor's behavior and explain how team members hear those comments and consider them gossiping. Then ask for the doctor's advice about how you can work together to solve the problem.

I know it's intimidating to approach the boss. Just remember to focus on solutions and be gentle with her feelings.

Roger Cummings, CVPM, is a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and a consultant with Brakke Consulting in Dallas. Do you have a practice problem that's hurting your heart? Send your questions to "Dear Roger" at
or write to Dear Roger, Firstline magazine, 8033 Flint, Lenexa, KS 66214.

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