« 6. Veterinarians: Emotional intelligence tips 6-10 »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

Emotional intelligence and EQ are needed by a range of professional people, especially veterinarians.

Veterinarians, in particular, have to manage a complex array of emotional factors. In addition to managing the emotions displayed by all people requiring paid professional help, animals trigger strong emotional reactions in people, especially when the animals are sick or in need of care.

This means that veterinarians need even higher levels of emotional intelligence than some other occupations. 

Whether you, as a vet, are dealing with a horse trainer with an injured horse, or a family whose beloved dog is to be euthanased, emotions are very much a part of the veterinarian's work.

Of course, as a vet you also have your own emotions to manage, especially as you may often find yourself working in potentially stressful or intense situations. This requires further skills of emotional intelligence.

This is the second of two articles covering emotional intelligence tips for veterinarians.

The first article covered Veterinarians emotional intelligence tips 1-5, and this will provide an additional set of five tips: 6-10.

EI tip 6: Consider people's feelings before communicating 

Consider how people are feeling when deciding how to communicate with them. Accurate emotional data on how people are feeling can be used to help you choose the most effective way to communicate with them.

For example, if you have to approach someone, whether it is to reprimand a staff member for being late, to discuss the non-payment of bills with an owner, or to tell someone his dog's tumour is inoperable, consider in advance the person's feelings and then decide how to best approach and talk to him or her.

Thus, if staff members are embarrassed about being late you may talk to them differently than if they are indifferent.

If an owner has been anxious for a long time about her dog she may be relieved that the dog's pain is finally over, whereas those whose dogs have only just been diagnosed may still be in shock. It may help to take this into account.

This is displaying high levels of emotional intelligence.

EI tip 7: Manage your mood

If you get out of bed one morning in a bad or negative mood and have to face a busy day in your veterinary practice or clinic, shift your mood to a more positive and productive one.

Part of being emotionally intelligent is being able to manage your own feelings, so you can put yourself in the best mood to achieve your goals. The fifth competency on the Genos emotional intelligence model is emotional self-management.

  • If you're miserable for instance, you might listen to some comedy while on the way into work. The laughter may lift your spirits.
  • If you're anxious about the work ahead you might bring to mind a calming image of someone looking serene, or focus on your breathing to help reduce the anxiety.
  • If you feel stressed and overwhelmed you may use Simple Energy Techniques (SET) or tapping to calm down your system.

Manage your mood. Get in the best mood for the job you're doing. This is a very useful application of emotional intelligence skills for any vet.

EI tip 8: Manage the mood of the veterinary practice

Emotional intelligence covers a wide range of skills, including managing the emotions of others.

If you are the veterinarian in charge or the practice manager help your staff feel buoyant at difficult or pressurised times. This doesn't mean insisting that everyone "Be positive" or stand in front of the mirror saying "positive affirmations".

Rather it means being open to the emotions of your staff, being able to acknowledge them, understand them, and accept them. It also means being able to use appropriate resources to help them move through the unproductive emotions, and to foster positive or productive ones. Do not leave staff emotions to chance.

How good are you at managing the emotions of others? It is another important emotional intelligence skill for any vet to have.

Most vets are surrounded by people as well as animals, after all, and the mood and emotions of these people will influence their reactions to you and your work and contribute to the whole feel of your veterinary clinic. What is the feel of your clinic? 

EI tip 9: Praise the strong animal-human bond and caring

When you see people providing loving care to their animals, whether farmers, your staff or pet owners, then praise them for their caring attitude and behaviour.

Help foster the bonds that already exist.

Most people like praise. Yet most of us only hear from other people when we have done something wrong. Praise can help sustain the behaviours you want to see. This applies to your staff as well.

Being able to express praise is part of the emotional intelligence competency "emotional self-expression". How well and how often do you express positive emotions and praise in your veterinary practice?

EI tip 10: Build trust by respecting others' emotions

Build trust and confidence by respecting other people's emotions.

Being able to stay open to other people's feelings, especially when they are negative and directed at you, can require a high level of emotional intelligence. Being able to do it can be very beneficial. This means:

  • Not getting defensive when someone comments negatively on your work.
  • Not trying to talk people out of their feelings when they feel anxious, worried or down.
  • Not ignoring what is said when someone tells you how she or he is feeling.

Thus, if someone in your veterinary clinic, an animal owner or staff member, checks up on you to see that you've done something, instead of getting defensive and saying, "Trust me", thank them for checking.

If someone is feeling offended about a remark you've made, don't say, "I think you're taking this too personally", listen, acknowledge and even apologise.

Respecting people's feelings and emotions is one way you can build trust between you. It is also part of the skills that fall under the sixth emotional intelligence competency on the Genos EI model: "Managing the emotions of others". You need this in your Vet clinic.

How high is your emotional intelligence?

Developing your emotional intelligence and applying high level emotional intelligence skills in your veterinary practice or clinic could increase the reputation and success of your practice. It could certainly make your life easier.

Learn more about dealing positively with customer emotions

There is so much that you can do to develop the emotional intelligence of you and your team so customers and their animals are managed superbly. The EI Institute has a number of options to help you:
  1. There are high energy, interactive and practical emotional intelligence workshops. Of particular value to your staff is the one "How to keep your cool with difficult people".
  2. There is a dynamic keynote speech on "A duck's back: Keeping cool with negativity" which will get your event buzzing and help your practice team stay calm, cool and collected.
  3. There are emotional intelligence CDs, DVDs and books particularly the unique and practical 2 CD set, "How to deal with difficult people WITHOUT GETTING UPSET". Bulk discounts are available so all your team may have their own copy.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.