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The Veterinary Business Success Show · Ep 01 – Resolving Pet Owner Conflict with Debra Hamilton

Welcome to the Veterinary Business Success Show with Dr. Dave Nicol. In this brand new podcast, we’ll be exploring ideas and subjects that can be used to manage your veterinary practice better with experts in their field.

In today’s episode, we’re joined by “Nipped in the Bud, Not in the Butt” author, litigator-turned-mediator Debra Hamilton who shares why mediation is often a more cost-effective, and lower stress route to take through conflict with pet owners. Not least because it is likely to result in a more satisfactory outcome for all parties.

In an age when the threat of reputational damage on the internet frankly terrifies us and endows clients with enormous (and what seems like unfair) power, methods to avoid relationship implosions seem like a very good idea.

In our COVID-stressed world, where complaints seem to be on the rise, Debra and her collaborative approach to conflict resolution might just be your best friend.

Now, before we get onto the show, a quick word from today’s sponsor


Today’s show is brought to you by VetX international…

Are people the major pain-point in your practice? If so, you are not alone, over 90% of managers report staff problems to be their number one issue.

At the root of this problem are usually three dysfunctions: A poorly articulated vision, toxic culture, or some form of leadership breakdown.

If this sounds familiar then do not despair. Help is at hand. We encourage you to check out ‘Leaders’ a veterinary specific Leadership training program where you will learn how to create and execute on a shared vision, how to hire well and build a powerful high-performance practice culture without the drama. The class is accredited, delivered online, and open for applications now.

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As a former litigator, Debra is no stranger to doling out punishments that she believed to be proportional to the crime. However, after stepping away from her role and into that of a PTA mom for the next 13 years, she realized that her usual “mode of operation” did not exactly translate well outside the courtroom. When she returned to the practice of law in 2010, Debra came in with a completely new paradigm for evaluating issues—one that puts a heavy focus on listening carefully to the other person in order to come to a conclusion that benefits both parties best.

Listen in as Debra shares her philosophy around conflict management and how she applies what she has learned throughout her career to the veterinary field as a mediator between vets and pet owners.

Listen on Soundcloud here

Listen on Stitcher here

Listen on Spotify here

Outline of this episode

  • [01:45] How Debra views conflict
  • [04:32] Addressing conflicts of any kind using stop, drop, and roll
  • [08:01] Why saying “I appreciate how you feel” is more powerful than you think
  • [14:40] How to stay level-headed during conflict
  • [15:44] Why we always feel the need to be right
  • [21:51] How to avoid conflicts between vets and clients in the first place
  • [29:12] Reach out to Debra


Nipped in the Bud, Not in the Butt: How to Use Mediation to Resolve Conflicts over Animals by Debra Hamilton:

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