When ‘They Go Low, We Go High’.

I received a text message early this morning from a client who had an all too familiar issue – what’s the right approach when you get an unfair google review.

The mechanics of how to respond ‘online’ when this occurs are relatively straight forward – don’t be defensive, don’t escalate the situation and make sure that what you say will stand the test of time.  There’s a formula for this that is understood after the most basic of media training.

But there’s a bigger issue at stake here and that is…

How is your team dealing with any negative assertions about their professionalism or care for animals made by an angry client who are just using Google to ‘have the final say’?

A common response is to explore any possible shortcomings in patient treatment (is there any truth in what the client is saying?) and then move on to the client’s many deficiencies.  Although completely understandable, I’m not convinced the latter is helpful – particularly if our objective it to protect and develop our front-line team members to deal with such issues.

There is never any excuse for threats of physical violence (as was the case in this morning’s call) however there are any number of reasons in the current climate, why an increasing number of clients might be struggling to cope – and you don’t need a degree in psychology to join the dots between mental ill-health at home – buy a COVID puppy – visit the vet (hopefully!).

Acknowledging that your public facing team members are going to have to continue to deal with whatever ‘the cat drags in’ (literally) is the first step in helping them to cope better.

Be observant about what’s going on in their day and check in with them to see if they need a break. Even in these incredibly busy times, find 30 minutes to run the reception desk yourself and send them away for a break.  Put it down to the importance of you feeling the pulse of the practice. You’re NOT taking back delegated responsibility (that’s an attitudinal thing), you’re demonstrating that you have their back – even if it’s only to understand their day better.

Some time ago, Lincoln shared with you the power of ‘emotional mirroring’ and your role as leaders to be careful how you ‘project’ or model behaviour.   

To paraphrase Michelle Obama in relation to the turmoil around their handover of the Presidency, she said when they ‘go low, we go high’. 

‘High’ might be showing empathy towards even the most troubled clients – you’ll feel better assuming that everyone has a back story that might be fuelling their anger and you’ll be modelling emotional resilience.  No matter whether you determine to call the police, or the situation is within your control, the ‘high’ road will always hold you in good stead.

When your team see you responding in this way, it’ll make sense when you ask them to do the same.  When they do it, they’ll be working very hard to stay out of judgement.  Switching the focus away from themselves and thereby taking any flak less personally; a great step towards their long-term emotional resilience.

There are countless times in my life when I wish I’d taken a higher road – it’s a work in progress but for the sake of your team, have a think about what your high road looks like.

Best of luck


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