EBMS: Business Immersion 2015

Credit: Kimberly S. Brown Dr. Bob Magnus (right), cofounder of EBMS, participated in one of the many group activities during the EBMS conference.

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Equine Business Management Strategies (EBMS) meeting in the United States. These meetings have always been focused on improving the financial health of a veterinarian’s practice—whether he or she is a solo practitioner or part of a multi-vet, multispecies clinic. They also focus on three core tactics: “clarify,” “simplify” and “implement.”

One of the reasons that an equine veterinary business immersion program works so well for vets is that you have people in the room who understand your industry; then you are challenged to step outside your comfort zone and learn from your peers, your colleagues and the presenters while contributing to the program yourself.

Good business and communication habits aren’t learned overnight, from one article or at one conference, but getting tools to help start the process of changing from a good veterinary practice into a great practice can start with simple steps.

Read the downloadable PDF for the article featured in EquiManagement magazine Winter 2015, then read on below for more information from this conference, brought to you by Vets First Choice. Watch for an additional article to come in early 2016 featuring additional information from the EBMS conference brought to you by Vets First Choice.

Patterns of Speech

“Our linguistic patterns influence how we communicate and interpret others,” said Shana G. Carroll, BA, MBA, a clinical assistant professor of Management Communication and a senior advisor in the office of the dean at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She said that these patterns are influenced by the geographic area from which we come.

Our unique linguistic style includes our word choice, pacing and pausing, pronunciation and diction, directness or indirectness, and the use of jokes, figures of speech, apologies and questions. She said that there are also gender differences in linguistic patterns.

Carroll discussed synchrony, which means modifying your behavior to adapt to the person with whom you are trying to communicate. “It influences likeability when you adapt to the person’s norm,” she noted.

Pacing—how fast you talk—is one of the most important ways to modify your behavior to better communicate with a client. You can change your pacing and adapt it to be more like that of the client to engender better communication. If the client speaks slowly and softly, and you chatter on 90 miles an hour in a loud voice, that difference in pacing could be a cause of miscommunication.

Carroll said you also can use pacing to change the other person’s communication presentation. If you have a client who is angry or excited, you can slow the pace of the conversation and speak in a lower tone to calm the other person down and encourage him or her to speak more in synchrony with your conversation style.
Carroll gave the group a task that was very enlightening to the participants. The takeaways from that group activity were:
• people want clarity of purpose (understanding the goal);
• uncertainty and ambiguity are frustrating;
• we attribute meaning to:
• language and tone (what is said and how it is said);
• perceived and real hierarchy (labels matter);
• time (waiting is hard);
• access to information and control matter to people;
• leaders feel stress and anxiety, too (although there’s little empathy for them);
• everyone wants to be part of the conversation
• to be included;
• to have input;
• to be respected.

Leadership and Communication

Carroll cited research that discussed leadership competencies, noting that communication is involved with many of those key competencies. She admitted that there are “organizational factors” that make communications difficult. A few that she discussed were:

• leaders/managers are under a lot of stress (communication is viewed as a luxury relative to the actual doing);
• leaders/managers commonly overestimate the transparency of their feelings and thoughts (this is the “illusion of transparency”);
• conflict avoidance and organizational silence (fear of saying the truth) are commonplace;
• leaders have a fear of making things harder or worse by communicating poorly.

She recommended that you lead with warmth to build relationships with clients or staff, then build those relationships with confidence and strength.

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