Back to blog list

Communication and negotiation skills webinar for vets

No matter how much you enjoy your work as a vet, there will be moments in your job where your negotiation and communication skills will be tested to the limit.

No matter how much you enjoy your work as a vet, there will be moments in your job where your negotiation and communication skills will be tested to the limit.

From dealing with a client reluctant to pay for treatment, to knowing when to call a colleague for some advice, having confidence in your ability to communicate effectively is vital to any vet.

We recorded this webinar to identify ways for vets to strengthen their communication skills and use case studies to explore strategies they can employ in their own work place. The webinar is features slides and an interactive discussion and also provides the opportunity for the participants to learn from each other experiences.

Win-win negotiation

In the first part of the webinar we explored different negotiation styles and the idea of ‘win-win’ negotiation. The key idea of this approach is to try to separate the people from the problem, which I know can be challenging when you’re working with a particularly challenging client unwilling to pay for necessary treatment!

An additional element of win-win negotiation is to try to try refer to objective criteria, such as organisational policies or even legislation, so as to make the negotiation less personal and more balanced.

Use the right language

We then explored the language of negotiation and examined how certain type of questions, such as open questions, can be a powerful way to build a rapport with the other person and try to further understand their perspective. 

Useful examples of open questions you might use in your work included:

  • In this situation, what is really important to you?
  • What is really bothering you about this situation?
  • What do you hope to get resolved in this situation?
  • What do you value most in the resolution of the situation?
  • What are you afraid will happen if things continue on this same path?

Communicating and listening

In second half of the webinar we started to examine communication in more detail. We briefly explored Eric Berne’s theory of Transactional Analysis and the common ego-states of ‘Parent’, ‘Adult’ and ‘Child’ that we can all subconsciously adopt when we communicate with each other and how we can strive to achieve a more balanced ‘adult’ to ‘adult’ communication style

We also spent time discussing the importance of listening skills in the work of vets and how effective listening can help diffuse potentially challenging situation. Effective listening, for example, includes a blend of non-verbal communication signals (e.g. eye contact) and specific techniques such as allowing the speaker to finish their sentences rather than interrupting and avoiding the distraction of planning what you’ll say next

Assertive communication

We also focused more on what we understand by the term assertive communication. We discussed common misconceptions of assertiveness (e.g. bullish or forceful behaviour) in comparison with key elements such as the following, sometimes known as the BEAR of assertiveness:

  • Describe the Behaviour or event causing the difficulty
  • Explain the Effect on you
  • Suggest Alternative behaviours you would prefer
  • Outline the Result that will benefit both of you

Finally, we addressed ways to more apply your improved understanding of negotiation and communication skills within your own professional context.

This webinar has been originally created for Young Vet Network (YVN) eligible vets - members in their final year of study or first 8 years after graduation. Many of the themes are appropriate to all vets though so I would encourage you to share this free webinar as widely as possible.

More from the BVA blog

Related webinars on


Want to join BVA?

Get tailored news in your inbox and online, plus access to our journals, resources and support services, join the BVA.

Join Us Today

Not a member but want a weekly vet news round up?

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for the latest vet news in your inbox.

For tailored content in your inbox and online, as well as access to our journals and resource and support services you might want to consider joining BVA.