"Don't—you will appear to be 'topping' their stories. That's not what you're trying to do in an interview," she said. "You
need to find out about the candidate and how he or she can feel welcome and flourish in your environment."
"I am finally getting it, Ms. Billings," John said. "It is less about developing position and power and more about seeking
relational development—especially considering the dynamic between the sexes."
"Bingo. And now here's some final questions. How much time do you spend mentoring, sitting down with and discussing professional
topics? How much time did you spend building relationships with past veterinarians? Do you have meetings that allow full input
by all staff members?"
John explained how he has meetings occasionally but he runs them from the top down. "I give my spiel and the troops carry
on from there," John said.
"I also hardly ever talk to my vets one-on-one—unless they are screwing up. Veterinary practices are busy places." John paused.
He knew he had just said the wrong thing. He continued. "I think I can see where all this is going and it looks like my past
is haunting me. I have always thought that it would be less than professional to create a relationship with my veterinarians.
I was taught years ago that a professional distance must be kept."
Sharon responded, "Well, it's important to have a business climate and pay attention to expenses. And you still need to have
contracts for clarity. But true professionals also have a close working and professional personal relationship based on trust.
Because women look at things more relationally, discussion and meetings should be held often and a little longer. A little
longer also goes for interviews."
John was stunned. He had it wrong all along. "Ms. Billings, I admit this is the longest conversation I've ever had with a
woman. I usually just stop the conversation if I have to—even with my wife. She wants to talk and all I want to do is fix
it for her. She tells me to quit trying to fix all of her problems—she says she just wants me to listen so she can talk it
out. It is just so un-natural for me."
"Well, for a lot of men like yourself, short, blunt discussions are more natural. But it's just not helpful in a lot cases—even
with other men. You need to adapt your relationship style for the situation. In most cases with women, listening and being
more relational will be most helpful—not only during the interview but during the time your veterinarians work for you—which
will hopefully be for a long time."
There was long pause. "Have I been of some help to you, Dr. Sanders?"
"You may have just changed my whole life—thank you very much. I hope we can talk again."
"Not a problem. Keep me posted." And the long conversation ended.
John looked and studied his wall. "I think I'll take the golf picture down first!"