Personnel with personal problems
May 01, 2006
If you've managed a veterinary practice for long, I can almost guarantee you've had to deal with staff members who bring their personal problems to work. And you may have said to yourself, "Why can't they leave these issues at home?"
Staff members bring their personal issues to work because they don't know where else to turn for help. And sharing about life that goes on beyond the walls at work helps build a strong bond that's an important part of being a team player. So don't deny the inevitable. On the other hand, it makes sense to develop some strategies for managing these situations when they come up.Avoid these listening traps
After all, these conversations often involve strong emotions, such as angst, anger, or anxiety. It's easy to get caught in the drama. Or you may find that it's difficult just to field such strong emotions from a co-worker. At this point, it's easy to revert to one of these three escape mechanisms:
1. Head bobbing. The listener phases out, politely nodding, like one of those toy dogs in the back window of a car, and then excuses him- or herself as soon as possible.
2. Tossing fuel on the fire. In this scenario, you get caught feeding into the negative energy and agreeing about how bad the problem is. You might even fall into a game of one-upmanship, seeing if the original complaint can be topped with an even bigger one of your own. "Oh, you think your husband's inconsiderate? Let me tell you what mine did just last week." Before you know it, you're sucked into the drama and—who brought the chips and salsa—the pity party begins.
3. The quick fix. The third common mistake listeners make is to start offering solutions before the person has even fully expressed the problem. And often, they really aren't looking for a solution, at least not at first. They simply want someone to be sympathetic and hear their complaint. Only then will they be open to a solution.
Diagnose the core problem