Podcast #52

life preserver
Preserving your own mental health is imperative in the veterinary profession! #notonemorevet
Sometimes you need to preserve your own mental health when you have difficult clients. You need to decompress, to get away, or to just say something to these clients so that you don’t lie awake at night ‘looping’ on what you could or should have said.

This blog will go over a new self-preservation techniques:
1. Leave the Room:
If a client is being difficult, mean, abusive, annoying, draining, whatever… sometimes you need to just have a break for a moment. It’s OK for you to leave the room for a minute. “I am going to give you a few minutes to think about what you want to do next, and I’ll be back in a bit.”
2. Are You Done?
Sometimes clients are just having a temper tantrum. They need to vent and get it out, and they have their little winge session. Sometimes you can just be quiet, let them get it out, let them say what they need to get off their chest.

“Are you done?”


“If you are done now, I’d love to talk and focus on what we can do for Fluffy at this point.”
3. Address Snide Little Comments:
One of the things that wiggles under our skin and makes us twitch for days, are those snide little remarks that clients make. They can be “well that’s more expensive then human care” or “I’m paying for your Ferrari” or one of the other 1000 remarks they make.

My best strategy for this is to sweetly, directly, and clearly respond to these comments, as if they were a simple medical question.

By directly responding to these comments, you not only prevent from looping on the comment for ages, but you educate the owner on important issues, and you show confidence and power by giving a direct response. It is important to respond calmly and respectfully.

“Actually, your own medical care is subsidized by the government and you pay for it in your taxes.”
4. Have Pre-Set Lines:
Having some lines in your pocket that you can say to certain types of comments, that are ‘general use’, so that if you are getting worked up emotionally from a client you can say them without too much thought. These types of lines help prevent you from feeling like you haven't stood up for yourself, from feeling like the client ‘won’ that emotional battle.

Just by saying something, and standing up for yourself, you will feel better, more empowered, and stronger.

My favourite is:
“This is the cost of care.”
5. Offer/Suggest Different Care:
When owners are being complete jerks, when they cannot be appeased, when they are abusive, and other such scenarios, then sometimes you need to Fire These Clients.

“It is apparent you do not feel comfortable with my treatment for Fluffy, and I feel it's best for you to have Fluffy cared for by another veterinarian. Here is a list of the closet clinics.”

See HOW to Fire Clients for more.
6. Have Someone Else Take Over:
Sometimes you will just not jive with a particular client. Sometimes you will need to call for ‘back-up’.

If you can tell you just won't be a good fit with a particular client, or a client is being abusive, especially if you aren't the most senior person in the building, try getting someone else.

If there are multiple vets in the building, maybe get one of your colleague to take over the case. If you are a nurse or receptionist, get the vet on duty talk to the client. Often clients are nicer to the vets or when they feel they have the person ‘in charge’.

For more blogs on dealing with particular types of difficult clients, see blogs on Upset Clients, Dangerous Clients, Bully Clients, Manipulative Clients, “I Know Better” Clients and General Tips on Difficult Clients.
Written by Dr. Ann Herbst BSc, DVM

Published April 8th, 2021

Advocate for yourself, you are the only one that will!

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