Utilising interpersonal skills to manage challenging client behaviour

Emma Stansfield
Thursday, June 2, 2022

Widespread pandemic-related disruption has led to increasingly challenging client interactions. TheBritish Veterinary Association (BVA) found that 57% of veterinary staff surveyed in 2021 reported feeling intimidated by client behaviour during the previous year; a 10% increase from 2019. The psychological impact of consistently difficult or abusive interactions can be significant and contribute to the high incidences of stress, burnout, attrition and potentially suicide increasingly noted in the industry. This understanding further highlights the need to focus on developing individual self-care strategies and leaders offering appropriate support to their team. Historically, veterinary education has overlooked the importance of training in interpersonal skills, such as communication, conflict resolution and emotional intelligence. However, human and veterinary medicine is evolving with increasing recognition of the significance of communication skills training to help prevent and manage of challenging client behaviour. This may help to ensure practitioners are better prepared for the challenges that await them.

Figure 1. The physical, behavioural and emotional signs of acute and chronic stress
Figure 1. The physical, behavioural and emotional signs of acute and chronic stress

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