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Build relationships with veterinary clients with healthy power and helpful behaviors
You need to modify your behavior to the situation and build power relationships that help, not hurt


Behavior in the workplace: The D.I.S.C. profile

So what can we learn from the two doctors in this story? Dr. Anderson is insecure. She exhibits two prominent behavior traits that are harming her relationships. Her overall behaviors are dominance (D) and conscientiousness (C) traits. People seeking to control their environment often display dominant behaviors.

Conscientious behaviors are perfectionist by nature. Those exhibiting "C" behaviors want it right the first time. They can be intolerant of others' ideas. Dr. Anderson blames others if things go badly but will silently become more insecure and isolated.

Dr. Sample is a people person. She exhibits influence (I) behaviors. These individuals are often in sales and excel at speaking to others.

Dr. Sample also exhibits steadiness (S). These individuals are nurturing, relaxed, deliberate and consistent. Dr. Sample is very successful but only an average practitioner in Dr. Anderson's eyes.

People can consciously change their DISC behaviors when situations change. Dr. Sample will need to be more assertive (D) when dealing with Dr. Anderson. Dr. Anderson, if she wants to stay in practice, will need to realize her behaviors are inappropriate and warm up to people—even if that goes against her current behaviors.

It's important to note that DISC profiles are not personality indicators but reveal underlying behavioral tendencies that are choices.

Discussion: Influence and power in the workplace

There are three types of power. All types are used to influence others. Power and behaviors work together to create positive or negative outcomes in the workplace. (See "Behavior in the Workplace: The DISC Profile.")

1. Role power. Role power is given to you by others and relates to your position in the workplace. In our example, Dr. Anderson is in control while Dr. Sample is gone and is enjoying her new power a little too much.

Role power exercised by itself does not always produce desired results. In the short term, it yields compliance. Staff or clients may go along with requests, but their hearts may not be in it. The more you try to influence others with role power, the less effective you are. This is especially true if dominant behaviors are used.

Role power is the weakest option with regard to influencing others. Role power works at first, but fails over time. Something more is needed.

The ultimate role power is the hiring and removal of employees and final decisions as to what to do with capital (money).

2. Expertise power. This is how others perceive your knowledge and intelligence. When Dr. Sample is gone, Dr. Anderson is the resident expert. She holds a degree from a veterinary school and is in a position of power to make choices for patients and for the hospital. Dr. Anderson holds expertise power over the staff because her education supercedes theirs.

Expertise power is a weak form of power but will often trump role power. Expertise power trumps role power when a client seeks a second opinion or when staff favor one vet over another when seeking advice for their own pets.

3. Relationship power. This is part of relationships with others that inspire them to want to do things for you.

Relationship power exerts the greatest influence over clients, staff and peers. This power grows over time.

Does this mean making friends with everyone you work with? No. Does it mean you need to be on everyone's Facebook page? I discourage this.

Relationship power is about being perceptive and helpful at all times to those you work with. It means getting to know others on a deeper level so you know where they're coming from. It means being more understanding. It means standing up for others when the need arises and avoiding gossip. It means being willing to do extra things for others when not required.

To generate relationship power, practice owners need to meet with staff one-on-one and give them appropriate feedback when problems arise. They need to be understanding of clients and their issues without being nosy. They need to develop good listening skills.

Relationship power is the strongest form of power and can transform your practice. When you make requests, people will want to the do the best job possible—both clients and staff.

All of us have behavioral tendencies that weaken or strengthen our positions and relationships at home and in our workplace. It's important to recognize the behavioral tendencies that interfere with our relationships and modify them as the need arises. It can be done with conscious effort.

Always remember: You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.

Dr. Lane is a graduate of the University of Illinois. He owns and manages two practices in southern Illinois. Dr. Lane completed a master's degree in agricultural economics in 1996. He is a speaker and author of numerous practice management articles. He also offers a broad range of consulting services. Dr. Lane can be reached at


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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