Communication Tips

With Chris Tomkinson

BA Political Science UNSW/ Dip Performing Arts [Theatre] WAAPA

What influences a persons’ ability to communicate?

“The key quality is the ability to both ‘give and receive’ – communicating what you need to and being aware of how that message is affecting your ‘interlocutor’. It helps if you can be conscious of how your own emotional state is influencing your reaction to the conversation.”

What role does listening play into communication with clients?

“It can’t really be over emphasised. The trickiest part is probably when we have to ‘listen’ for the non-verbal cues in things like tone and body language.”

When do most people learn about communicating effectively?

“Our communications habits are developed over a lifetime, we never stop learning – or, at least, we have the capacity to keep learning. As kids we learn what works with our parents, family and friends and we (hopefully) grow from there. As we pass through ‘the seven ages of man’ (as Shakespeare called it) we change and what we bring to each conversation changes. It’s one of those areas in life that can be constantly evolving, refining and improving.”

What is the #1 thing most vets get wrong about communicating with clients?

“Like most people we get caught up in our own emotional state and let it cloud our ability to give and receive, so we either become too reticent in putting forward our case or overly emphatic in doing so. Either way we’ve stopped attending to the two-way flow of information required for effective communication.”

How do you recommend addressing sensitive or embarrassing topics?

“A useful first step is to acknowledge how the situation makes you feel and ask how the people you are talking to feel. It can be a challenge for the ego to do this, but can create a useful platform for developing a constructive conversation.”

If you would like Chris to do an in-clinic workshop contact us here

Meet Dr Michael Heath – Vets Beyond Borders Auction Winner

Dr Michael Heath

Michael owns small animal hospital in Melbourne with Dr Damian McShane and believes one of the many benefits “of being a practice owner is the ability to direct resources towards charities like local schools and community groups and also Vet Beyond Boarders”

Michael and his family often travel to India for holidays whilst also partnering with Vet Beyond Boarders to make use of Michael’s veterinarian skills – plus the whole family also volunteers and lends a hand with the human population there too.

Michael is also a strong believer in continued education and has been to many VetPrac workshops by winning them in the Vet Beyond Boarders auction – where the money raised goes to help fund Vet Beyond Boarders projects.

What have you got out of winning a spot in our VetPrac workshop?

“Most recently one of our vets Dr Joanna Chan gets to further her Rabbit Skills and Vet Beyond Boarders receives a hefty donation from VetPrac!”

Why do you bid to win a place in our VetPrac workshops?

“VetPrac workshops are always practical and informative. It is always an interesting group of vets with similar interests. We always come back with new skills we can use straight away.”

Why would you recommend VetPrac workshops to other vets?

“They are fun and it is very relaxing to focus on one subject without distractions that come from work and being at home. That why I prefer to travel to one of the courses (I have been to Wagga and Gatton)”

What are the best things that you have learnt in a workshop that you have told others?

“How to reliably perform a good stifle joint arthrotomy and deal with the meniscus. And, that good quality ophalmoscopy loupes are super for examination and surgery. They are now never off our heads”

Would you suggest other vets bid for our workshops?

“VetPrac offers many different types of workshops from dental radiology to perineal and urogenital surgery. They are great courses and you may score a bargain.”

What do you like to do on your days off?

“I am learning how to ride a motorbike so my family and I can be more mobile when travelling and working in India. Travel to India can be daunting but it rewards all the effort that you put in.

When we go, we manage to see some sights like the Jain pilgrimage town of Sravanabelagola, rafting and camping on the Ganges, bicycling around Srirangapatnam – mostly it has allowed us to become involved in the Bylakuppe community by contributing to aged care, primary schooling as well as the dog work.”

Michael really enjoys the fact that the whole family is able to get involved linking my son, Archie’s school with the little monk boys of Kargyu is a lot of fun. They exchange powerpoint presentations on their lives and the monks entered the clinics colouring in competition. Next, we are heading to Kolkata, Bodgaya and the Orissan coast.”

What advice would you give to new graduates?

This may sound terrible after studying so hard but try not to over think too often. What you experience in your first 2 years sets you up with skills and confidence for the rest of your career. So, consider taking your first job in the country or a regional center.

If you would like to support Vet Beyond Boarders click here to view our current workshops on auction!