Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Calling All Managers!

Would love to meet some other managers in the area for lunch to discuss the following topics this Friday, June 24. Anyone in the area interested in meeting and bettering our management skills?

Agenda: June 24, 2011

• Contrast business management and business leadership and
describe when each skill set might be used to best advantage

• Understand and apply the five practices and ten commitments
of leadership as described by Kouzes and Posner

• Understand and be able to facilitate an effective dialogue and
decision-making process for the individual and within work

• Conduct effective, efficient and productive team meetings and
trainings sessions

• List the characteristics of a high performance work team and
demonstrate the ability to form, build and support effective work

• Learn how to effectively coach practice employees to assure
consistent and exemplary results

• Develop comfort and skill in having difficult conversations and in
applying disciplinary policies as required

• Outline how one might motivate employees and apply employee
performance management techniques in a veterinary practice

• Create a specific action plan to exert a positive leadership
influence in their own veterinary practice

Monday, June 20, 2011

So Long; Farewell; Auf Wiedersehen; Goodbye!

Exit interviews can be such an impactful and intriguing experience. This is your time to find out the answers to any burning questions that you may have. Some specific questions that I typically ask during my exit interviews are:

1) Why have you decided to leave the organization?

2) Was a single event responsible for your decision to leave?

3) Did you share your concerns with anyone in the organization prior to deciding to leave?

4) Could anything have been done to prevent your departure?

5) What things did the organization or management do to make your job more difficult/frustrating/unproductive?

6) What extra responsibility would you have welcomed that you were not given?

7) What can the organization do to retain its best people (and not lose any more like you)?

8) What training and development that you had did you find the most helpful?

9) What specific suggestions would you have for how the organization could manage issues better in the future?

10) What could your direct manager do to improve his or her management style?

Many of these questions can give you insight as to current employees---what could you be doing to make them retain them as team members. Questions like number 3 can also give you additional insight beyond whether as a manager you ignored requests or concerns by that team member may have made...It tells you if they have "vented" to your remaining staff-potentially stirring the pot or raising concerns or creating "fires" before their departure. Having the opportunity to sit down with your team and address these issues head on will gain you respect among your staff and will boost morale.

Your team wants to know you are listening and that they are being heard. If you don't take time out of your day to be the mentor, counselor, friend (in the office--never outside--but that's another blog rant), and a teacher, your team will stop coming to you for assistance, advice, concerns and will begin to go to their co-workers. When employees start to take their concerns to other staff members, you have lost control and are no longer seen as someone who is able to "fix" their problems. They are trying other outlets.

When I performed (or tried to perform) an exit interview recently, I was told that that particular employee preferred not to participate in the exit interview. This is always their choice. However, a comment she made really struck a chord. She said "I decline to participate, but I think those would be great questions to ask your current staff". It was beside the point that we have provided this survey to the staff twice in the time she had been employeed--her memory did not recall that she had been given an outlet a couple of times to anonymously answer these questions. I quickly went home and created a survey on so that the staff could answer these questions candidly and from the privacy of their own home. I hope to get some good answers and be able to address any issues that may come up that we have not realized. The fact that this employee told me I should do this gave me the sneaking suspecion that she had heard some know...those grumblings that everyone else in the practice hears and never make their way firsthand to management.

Have an open door policy. Take the time (at least a couple of hours per day) to do walk around management---listen to the staff; listen to how the staff communicates with one another; listen for patterns or grumblings and see if you can address them as a mentor/friend/coach.

Do you perform exit interviews? If so, what questions do you ask your staff? Do you give them verbally, written, in a survey form, etc?

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. ~Epictetus

Monday, June 13, 2011

We promise to always...

Recently, I stayed at a Fairfield Inn while visiting friends in Norman, Oklahoma. I was given a card on my pillow that said:

We promise to always
-Make you feel welcome
-Give you a room that's clean, fresh and reflects the highest quality standards
-Respond promptly to any need you might have
-Give you the service that will make you want to return

If, for any reason, you believe we're not keeping our word, please tell us immediately. After all, a promise is a promise.

I know this is such a simple little thing, but it made me feel comfortable and at ease. I decided we were going to "borrow" this approach for our Pet Hotel. We were going to give every client a little card when they drop their pet off that says we are going to provide their pet with the best possible care while they are gone. We posted a sign in the Pet Hotel office that says "HOME AWAY FROM HOME" and we all signed it.

But, what good is just saying you will do something? What other things have you put into place to really SHOW people that you are taking good care of their loved one? We send email and text videos and photos of the pets while they are with us. How do you show people you are taking good care of their animal while its boarding at your facility? If you don't work in the veterinary industry, how do you show patients, clients, etc that you care about them?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Did everyone memorize their lines?

Do you have scripts written down for your Team? Are all new staff members trained on how YOUR clinic presents information? Perhaps one of the most important tools in any business is a uniform message, which translates into great client service.

There are several touch points in which your Team should speak to clients:
1. Initial phone call

2. Booking the appointment

3. Calling to confirm the appointment

4. Surgery and Dental pre-registration

5. Follow up phone calls

6. Scheduling medical progress exams and followup consultations

The initial phone call sets the tone for all future visits. This initial phone call is often a potential client price shopping. This is your time to shine. This is your time to explain your services and win the client over with your education, knowledge and friendly service. Placing a client on hold for too long can prevent the relationship from even beginning. Your initial conversation should explain your wellness services, explain other services your clinic offers and should provide the client with an understanding of basic animal care. This phone call should be geared around your services rather than the price. Of course, you have to give the client the price, but you should provide the reason behind the service and tell them how it helps protect their pet...then give the fee.

Sample Script: "Thank you for calling the Animal Care Hospital, this is Christen, how may I help you? Oh sure, Mrs. Jones-I can give you the price of a new puppy visit. Your first puppy appointment will be scheduled for 1 hour, to allow you plenty of time to address any questions or concerns you may be having with the nurse or doctor. The doctor will perform a head to tail exam to check the eyes, ears, oral cavity/teeth, lumps/bumps, listen to lung sounds and address any abnormalities. Secondly, we will tailor a vaccination protocol for your specific pet. Often times the doctor likes to split up the vaccines and boosters into a few different appointments for the safety of your pet. Finally, we will perform an intestinal parasite exam to ensure that your puppy has not contracted any worms or intestinal parasites. We usually send out this stool sample and send you home with a prophylactic dewormer. Our initial exam is $60.00, our intestinal parasite exam is $28.00 and our vaccinations range from $12-$20 depending on which vaccinations the doctor chooses to give today. I have a 6pm appointment available on Tuesday or would you prefer a morning appointment?"

There are several things that a detailed phone script can do for your staff. Other than giving them a comfort level on what to say to the client, they are presenting the information in a way that will set the client up for success. We are explaining to them the services before giving the prices. We are providing knowledge and information. We are letting the client know how long to expect to be at the clinic for their first appointment. We are letting them know to come with questions. We have told them an estimated price. We have provided an appointment suggestion without a yes or no. You never want to say "Did you want to go ahead and schedule an appointment?" Never present questions with a yes or no response. If you do, be prepared for the response to be 'no'.

When you book the appointment, you should discuss with the client information that will prepare them for their appointment. I would recommend obtaining at least 2 phone numbers and an email address. Send the client a welcome letter via email before their appointment. Let them know you will be sending them their new client paperwork via email prior to the appointment. Let the client know that bringing this paperwork with them to the appointment will ensure that they are able to spend as much time as possible with the doctor. This helps your clinic because you will not get as behind on appointments as you do when a new client spends 15 minutes of their 60 minute appointment filling out paperwork in the lobby. You should ask the client what number and time is best to reach them for their appointment reminder.

Calling to confirm the appointment is a must. Clients get busy and do not always remember their appointment times. A missed appointment causes a lull in your day where you would have been able to assist another client. When your staff calls to confirm the appointment, I recommend calling during lunch or in the evening. Calling a clients home number between the hours of 9-5 presents a problem, since many of them will be at work. If the client provided a work number, you should call this number to remind them of their appointment.

Sample Call and Confirm Script: Hello Mrs. Jones, this is Christen calling from the Animal Specialty Hospital. I wanted to remind you of Chloe's appointment with us tomorrow at 9:30am with Dr. Smith. Chloe is due for her physical exam, rabies vaccination, lepto vaccination, heartworm test, annual labwork and intestinal parasite exam. Please bring with you a teaspoon size stool sample and remove food from Chloe after midnight so that she is fasted for her labwork. If you have any questions or concerns or need to reschedule Chloe's appointment, please call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you and Chloe tomorrow morning at 9:30".

In this script I have reminded the owner of the appointment time, I have set the stage for the items that are due (notice I didn't ask her at any point WHAT she wants to update..only what the doctor recommends) and have asked her to bring stool and fast the patient.

I highly recommend a nurse calling clients prior to their appointments for dentals and surgeries to discuss the procedure and answer any questions the client may have. This will cut down on the time spent at drop off since we are often very busy in the morning with other checkins and clients are usually rushing to get to work. I recommend a nurse calling and not a CSR because it provides the owner a time to speak to the nurse that has answers to more of their questions. I highly recommend the nurse calling the client to be the nurse that is going to be assisting with the procedure the next day. This puts the client at ease and gives a face/name to the person that will be handling the pet.

Another recommendation is that you call each client the day after they have been at your hospital. Kennel assistants should call clients to see how their pet is adjusting to being back home from boarding stays. The CSR should call to see how clients liked their grooms, how they are feeling after exam/vaccines, and see if they are eating a new diet prescribed by the doctor. Nurses should call back clients with sick pets and check in on how the pet is eating, drinking, taking medication, etc. It is preferable that the nurse that assisted with the appointment the day before be the one to call the client. This makes the client understand how much you personally care about their pet. I believe it is important for the nurses to follow up on sick appointments to avoid the CSR having to put the client on hold and go find someone to answer the medical questions that are likely to come up. The nurse should check on the patient, ask the client if they are having any difficulties giving medications and provide support and guidance for any concerns the client might have. At this time, the nurse could schedule the follow up appointment if it had not been done so by the CSR at check out.

Finally, the CSR should be scheduling medical progress exams/follow up visits at the time of check out. Again, a yes or no question should not be asked (would you like to schedule your follow up visit now? "No".) Instead, "Mrs. Jones, Dr. Smith has requested that I schedule Chloe a follow up exam in 14 days which will be June 7. Would you prefer a morning or afternoon appointment on June 7?" We like to call a "recheck" either a medical progress exam or a follow up consultation because recheck can sound free...whereas a follow up exam sounds like there is a fee attached.

You can provide scripts to your CSRs for so many different topics: check in, check out, euthanasia, collecting money from clients, new client appointments, surgery follow up, etc. Do you use scripts? Are they typed up for your staff to reference? Do you quiz staff over how to handle certain phone calls?

You can provide scripts to your Nurses for many topics as well: kitten talks, puppy talks, reasons behind heartworm testing, physical exams, annual labwork, senior panels, IPEs, heartworm prevention, etc. Again, having a uniform message for clients is so important and having a script and training on the reason behind WHY you do certain tests can give your staff that added confidence they need to provide confident, reliable, courteous client service.

Please feel free to share sample scripts you use at your business and share additional "touch points" where you call your clients. Lets come up with the perfect scripts together!

"For every sale you miss because you're too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you're not enthusiastic enough"--Zig Ziglar

Friday, May 6, 2011

The World Is Your Stage...

My two favorite places to eat for lunch are Ava Restaurant on the square in Rockwall, Texas and McAlisters Deli on Lakeview Parkway and Liberty Grove. Of course, the food at Ava is amazing, however, that is not the reason you can find me "checked in" on Facebook 3 times per week. The reason I go there all the time (and take other people there to show off) is because the excellent customer service. I walk in and get a "hi, Christen! how are you today! will it be just you dining with us or are you expecting additional guests"? They seat me at my "regular table" and bring me a tea with the pink sweetner. I don't have to ask. They just know this is what I want to drink. They place my napkin in my lap and ask me if I'd like to see a menu or if I'd just like my usual. WOW! They know me so well and seem to pay such special attention to me. They know the orders of everyone I eat with. In fact, looking around the restaurant, it appears they remember everything about all their customers!

I also love McAlisters on Lakeview Parkway and Liberty Grove. You may ask yourself why I keep specifying the location that I like. This is because McAlisters has mediocre food and at most locations I've been to, a very mediocre staff. Not this McAlisters! While the food may actually taste just as average as it does at the other locations, the food seems to taste better at this location because the staff is so darn nice! You just feel warm and fuzzy walking in the door. They all have smiles on their faces. They often remember what you order. They remember where I have said I work and they ask about the animals.

The morale of these two random food "shout outs" is that they keep me coming back for more than the food....they keep me coming back for the service. When people come to your vet office or business, do they get this warm fuzzy feeling? Are they greeted by a friendly smile, a warm welcome and a bottle of water? Do your staff members remember the clients name and use it when they greet them? Do they remember the pet and say "Hello Max" instead of "What a cute baby"? Do they differentiate your practice from all those like it by adding that something extra to the experience?

A wonderful book, which I recommend to every business, not just medical offices, is called "If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 things you would be differently" by Fred Lee. You will notice that in the previous paragraph I asked you about "adding that something extra to the experience". The chapter titles alone in this book can teach us a lot about creating that "experience" that people are looking for. The perfect client service that keeps people coming back for more.

Chapter 1: Redefine Your Competition and Focus on What Can't Be Measured

This chapter focuses a lot of the perception of the client. (Notice I said client and not customer--Veterinary offices have clients and patients and should have Client Service Representatives, not Customer Service Representatives). Something as simple as communication can help perception and help a client know that we are concerned about them and their pet. An example from the book is "lets say there is a lot of commotion at the nurses' station while giving a report to the next shift. A nurse quickly closes the patient's door out of concern for the patient's privacy. Yet the patient probably thinks, Why are they closing my door? I'll bet they are talking about me. The way to create the impression of concern is to say something to the patient like "Mr. Lee, would you like your door closed? We get pretty noisy out here while we're giving report. It shouldn't last much longer. Only by concentrating on what is said while doing something, did hospitals begin to see significant improvement in patient perceptions that staff showed a concern for patient privacy".

Can you think of any instances where you or a staff member may have done something that the client could have perceived in the wrong way?

Chapter 2: Make Courtesy More Important Than Efficiency

I believe the title is fairly self explanatory. Courtesy should be more important that all else in the hospital. If you are friendly to clients and communicate with clients, they are far less likely to be upset when the emergency is triaged ahead of them, or if their phonecall is returned 15 minutes late. Smile. Be nice. Communicate. Let them know what is happening and why and how you are going to provide them with excellent client service when its their turn.

Can you think of any areas in your hospital/business where you may sacrifice courtesy for efficiency? How are you going to change this?

Chapter 3: Regard Patient Satisfaction as Fool's Gold

Just because a client is satisfied, does not mean they are going to return. Satisfaction has nothing to do with loyalty. You should be measuring client loyalty and not satisfaction. One effort beyond a person's job description can win customer loyalty. If you don't do something special for a guest, they won't remember you. And if they don't remember you, why would they come again? Try this. At your next staff meeting, end the meeting with a simple question. Has anybody done something special for a client lately? Maybe a receptionist delivered food to a clients house because they were feeling ill. Maybe a nurse offered to pick up Fluffy on their way into work because the owner was going to be at the office. These are the something extra that keep clients happy and loyal and coming back for more.

Which of your employees have gone "above and beyond" for a client? Did they offer this solution on their own? How were they rewarded?

Chapter 4: Measure to Improve, Not to Impress

Don't just send out a "satisfaction survey" to see where you rank. Follow up with clients in a manner that allows them to be real about their feedback--not inflated because the employee is watching them fill it out. Spend time in staff meetings problem solving and passing along compliments when they come. Make everyone a part of creating a culture of soliciting feedback to improve, not impress.

What are some questions from your "satisfaction surveys"? What is your measurement scale? Who comes up with decisions on how to change negative feedback?

Chapter 5: Decentralize the Authority to Say Yes

Empower your staff to say YES. Don't put too many systems in place where the CSR can't make a decision that directly impacts the satisfaction and loyalty and happiness of a client. Mrs. Jones needs to return food. She comes to the building with 5 cans of A/D. Do you have a CSR staff trained to do a return for the food? Are they authorized to take it back? Can they run the card for a refund? You should have empowered the employees to take care of this task because it directly relates to the satisfaction of the client. You have your CSR do recalls the next day to see how the client liked their pet's groom the day before. They hated it. Are your CSRs trained to just say 'I'm sorry you didn't like it. I'll have the groomer call you or I'll have a manager call you or hold on while I go see if there is something I can do. If so, this is not the case of an empowered employee. They should be trained to say "Mrs. Jones, I apologize that Fluffy's groom doesn't meet your expectations. Are you available to bring Fluffy in tomorrow for a regroom at no additional charge? We want to do everything we can to make sure you are happy with Fluffy's groom. What can I do for you"?

In what ways have you empowered your staff to take care of client concerns and issues? Can you think of any issues where you feel you can't hand over the reigns? Why?

Chapter 6: Change the Concept of Work From Service to Theater

"Everyone expects Disney to regard entertainment work as theater. After all, they are in the entertainment business. They are trying to create an escape from reality. When guests enter the world of Disney, they enter a make-believe world of fantasy and fun. But a hospital is about as real as life can get and as far from most people's fantasy of fun as anyone can imagine. Here, where patients are hurting, sad, anxious, and depressed, entertainment is not what they are looking for. Would Disney really define work as theater if they ran your hospital? Absolutely. And here's why: Disney World is not a service; it's an experience. So are movies and plays. Hospitalization is not a service either; it's an experience. Hospitalization provides a stage to facilitate the experience of healing. For both Disney and hospitals, it is more accurate to describe their business as providing a transforming dramatic experience than delivering a service. Not all drama is meant to be fun. But all successful drama is a transforming experience". Keep in mind: Casting good actors helps make a good director.

What does your business do to create an experience for your patients and clients?

Chapter 7: Harness the Motivating Power of Imagination

Try this exercise with your staff. Have them imagine some good friends whom you have not seen for a long time but would love to see. Now imagine you just found out that they are coming to spend the weekend with you. What would you do to prepare for their visit. They will probably write things like: mow the lawn, change the sheets, clean the bathroom, stock the fridge, wash the cars. Now ask them to make another list with some things they would refrain from doing while they are here if we want them to have a good time and return again. They will probably write things like: let them use the bathroom first, respect their privacy, ask them what they want to eat, be awake before them in the morning. Then point out that we all know how to treat a guest in our home. Lee says its no different at Disney. We are hosts and our customers are called guests. Please treat them as you would if you knew each one of them personally and liked them. Treat them as you would if they were staying in your own home. And do it every day, all the time. Help us keep our promise to them that we are here to make them happy--just as you would make your own guests happy.

How does your staff keep your clients/guests happy? Does the CSR staff keep appropriate small talk going with the client while they

Chapter 8: Create a Climate of Dissatisfaction

Take the negative stereotypes that are born out of dissatisfaction for similar businesses and create your business around it. Walt Disney did not invent the amusement park, but he did want it to have immaculate gardens and walkways and wanted well groomed employees. He wanted people to enjoy waiting in lines and wanted shows and restaurants and park benches for those who don't enjoy the rides. If necessity is the mother of invention, dissatisfaction must be the father of improvement. You shuold create an environment where good isn't good enough and you can always do better. Your employees should know that they exist to satisfy your guests/clients. The determining question regarding all suggestions in a service industry should be "How will this affect the perceptions of clients or guests".

Does your staff ask themselves this question before speaking or acting?

Chapter 9: Cease Using Competitive Monetary Rewards to Motivate People

The author of the book says that he witnessed a great client service interaction of a flight. He saw a flight attendant who did a wonderful job dealing with an upset client. He complimented her and she thanked him. A few moments later, she returned with a comment card. She asked him if he would fill it out with his nice compliment so that she could win a trip to Hawaii. Fred Lee says that it ruined the whole idea of her doing a good job because he knew then that her actions were to better herself, and not a sincere, caring action taken to help a client.

Do you have any reward programs directly related to client service? What are they?

Chapter 10: Close The Gap Between Knowing and Doing

What separates a good business from a mediocre business is consistency in day-to-day execution of universally shared values. Empower your staff. Keep people around that do what you ask of them and provide the service you expect of them ALL THE TIME, EVERY TIME. Don't allow staff to "do things the right way" only when someone is watching. Same service every time. Preach it. Live it. Retain your clients and build loyalty that keeps them coming back for more of your great service.

"There are no traffic jams along the extra mile."-Roger Staubach

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Per Jyl's Request

A photo montage of "what being a manager means to me" ...Take 1.

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Can Emotional Intelligence be Learned?

A common question relates to whether people are born with high EQ or whether it can be learned. The truth is that some will be more naturally gifted than others but the good
news are that emotional intelligence skills can be learned. (This must be so because emotional intelligence is shown to increase with age.) However, for this to happen, people must be personally motivated, practice extensively what they learn, receive feedback, and reinforce their new skills.

Improving your EQ can contain several elements known to reduce stress: moderating conflict; promoting understanding and relationships; and fostering stability, continuity, and harmony. Last but not least, it links strongly with concepts of love and spirituality.


Label your feelings rather than labelinig people or situations. Examples of this would be to practice using sentences using "I feel". For example, I feel frustrated would be a better way of saying You are driving me crazy. I feel afraid would be a better way of saying Your driving is awful! This can be translated into a way to let someone know something they "did" by paying them a compliment.

One specific example I can think of this would be the other day at work, one staff member took the initiative to take out all the trash in the entire facility. They gathered each trashbag and replaced each recepricle with a new bag. I heard another employee say "You leaked the bags all over the ground! There is a trail around the facility where the bag dripped everywhere". Perhaps a better way of saying this would be "I feel so thankful that you took all the trash out! You really didn't have to do that. I appreciate you taking my trash out for me. It looks like one of the bags leaked a little. Do you want me to follow behind you with a mop?"

2. Distinguish between thoughts and feelings.

You may think things like I feel like that person is mad at me because they were really short with me this morning. I feel that it was unfair that so-and-so gets to come to work late everyday and nothing happens, but I came late two days and I had to have a discussion about my tardiness with the manager.

You FEEL things like "I feel _____". For example, you feel helpless. You feel taken advantage of. You feel jealous. You feel skeptical.

3. Take responsibility for your feelings

I feel jealous versus You are making me jealous. Analyze your own feelings rather than the motives and actions of other people. Just because you feel a certain way doesn't mean that someone else is DOING that to you. You feel the way you feel because of YOU. Not because of someone else.

Sure, I go to the gym and look around at all the people that are skinnier than I am. I think about how unfair it is and that they probably eat whatever they want and barely work out and are just lucky to be skinny. I feel envy. I feel jealous. I feel unmotivated. Those are all feelings that I FEEL because I have unmet emotional needs. It would be different if a girl at the gym walked up to me and said "Geez, you sure are fat. I am so skinny and I just ate a burger and a milkshake before I came. Look how skinny I am. Aren't you jealous?" But that doesn't happen (at least not yet...). I am just internalizing my own feelings and letting myself feel jealous/envious/unmotivated/etc.

4. Use your feelings to help make decisions

Think to yourself, how do I feel when I do this? How would I feel if I did this instead? Ask other people how things make them feel. If you notice (which takes a high EQ, otherwise you usually don't even sense that there is a problem) a co-worker appears frustrated (eye roll, clenched jaw, no eye contact, crossed arms, etc) after something you asked them to do...think about HOW you asked them and HOW it might have made them feel. It is okay to say "I feel as though I might have upset you. I asked you to hold the dog differently and your posture changed. Did I say something that upset you? How could I have asked you to hold the dog differently in a way that would not have come across so abrasive?"

It is OKAY to confront people about how you "read" them feeling (but you have to do it the RIGHT WAY). You will notice I did not say "I can see you are upset". I said "I feel as though I may have upset you." I gave them a reason I think they are feeling that way---ex. a change in posture. I asked them what I did, if there was something I could have done differently. This opens the lines of communication with this person and allows them the opportunity to say "yes, actually"...and so on. Of course, this means they have to have a high EQ as well.

Being aware of your communication style creates a higher EQ. A higher EQ creates a group of people that are comfortable speaking to each other and addressing conflict and creating solutions. Can't you see how this would lead to a better work environment?

5. Use feelings to set and achieve goals

Set goals around your feelings. Think about how you want to feel and how you want others to feel. Think not about the Golden Rule: treat others as you would want to be treated...but think about the Platinum Rule: Treat others as they would want to be treated. Get feedback and track your progress. ASK your co-workers on a scale from 0-10 how "respected" they feel by you. Ask if they have noted any progress. If not, keep at it. Even if you are a 10 on a scale from 0-10...strive to be even better!

6. Feel energized, not angry

Use what other people might call anger to feel energized and to take productive action. Ask yourself, "I am really upset by this. Why does this bother me so much? What specifically am I feeling? What are my primary feelings? What need do I have that is not being met? What priciples or morales of mine have been violated?

7. Validate other people's feelings

In the previous post we discussed empathy. You have to show empathy, understanding and an acceptance of other peoples feelings. Something that I try to live by is that "perception is reality". It doesn't really matter what you meant by what you said...its how the other person perceived it. If you said "I'm so annoyed today" and someone overhears you and takes it as "You are annoying me today"...that is YOUR fault. Somehow, the way you said the statement made them feel that way. You can blame it on sensitivity or whatever you want, but the truth of the matter is that if you made someone feel a certain way with something you said, then you said it wrong.

This is something that is so important to be aware of because it translates to client communication as well. If you say to a client "Your pets are all overdue on their annual items" it could be perceived by that client that you think they are a horrible pet owner and shouldn't even have a pet. Maybe thats not what you meant at all, but how many clients are going to say to you "now wait a minute, I've been a great pet owner". Not many. Most of them are going to call and speak to someone else and have their records transferred elsewhere and you are never going to know about it. If you have a low EQ, you might not think anything of it. If you have a high EQ, you might read the clients body language and know immediately that you said something wrong. This gives you the opportunity to apologize and build the relationship back up.

8. Use feelings to show respoect for others

Think before you speak. Its as simple as that. When your momma told you "if you can't say something nice...don't say anything at all". SHE MEANT IT. Listen to your momma.

9. Don't advise, command, control, judge, criticize, or lecture others


10. Avoid people who invalidate you

While this is not always possible, try to spend less time with them. Another thing your momma probably told you. "You are what you eat". "You are who your friends are". You are who you surround yourself with and you should make it a point to surround yourself with positive people.

"Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world." –George Bernard Shaw