Get a grip: 3 ways to avoid losing your cool

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Apr 01, 2011

When you're all hyped up over a conflict, you might be prone to shooting off your mouth first and regretting it later. Use these suggestions to to avoid releasing a tirade.

1. Take a hike. "I used to have a great technician with the worst temper. She'd throw fits like a kid," says Paul Camilo, CVPM, practice administrator at All Pets Dental in Weston, Fla. "I told her, 'When you feel like you're getting upset, have someone cover what you're doing and take a two- to three-minute walk outside.' And that stopped the initial boiling over."

2. Break for the bathroom. "I will go to the bathroom and just stand there for a second. And it doesn't take very long to think through the problem," says Julie Mullins, a veterinary assistant and staff training coordinator at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C. "You have to know other people are not out to get you. If a client is upset, they're usually not upset with you, it's the situation."

3. Celebrate the good stuff. "Think about your wins during the day," Mullins says. "Remember that difficult client who left with a smile or the puppy that had parvo last week that is doing well today."

If you do lose your cool, know when to apologize. "I'll take a team member into the office and say, 'OK, we just snipped at each other. I want to apologize to you. I want you to know that it's about where I am right now, because I've got three appointments waiting,'" Mullins says. "And usually they're in the same spot, and the problem gets better immediately."