3 Communication Mistakes Veterinary Leaders Can’t Afford to Make

active listening employee retention leadership mindset

Communication is one of the most important tools for great leadership. How you speak to others, about others, to yourself, and about yourself, can empower or disempower people. Words can lift people up or bring people down.

The way you communicate builds trust, it inspires confidence in your team, it impacts productivity, engagement, and retention. If you communicate with the right intentions, your words will create your reality, so it’s worth paying attention to what you are speaking into existence.

Here are 3 common communication mistakes I see veterinary leaders make:

1) Incongruent communication

Incongruent communication is when what you’re saying doesn’t match your body language. It is said that words form just 7% of our communication, 38% is tonality, and 55% is body language. Our tone of voice, facial expressions, posture, hand gestures, head nods, all add a lot to our words. Silence itself is a form of communicating too, and so are your actions (what you do and what you don't do). We are never not communicating. People reveal themselves all the time through their communication because the way we communicate is impacted by our thoughts, intentions, and beliefs.

2) Under communicating

There are a couple of reasons leaders may under communicate, including being busy. It can also happen when a leader's ego gets in the way and they purposely withhold information, like some sort of power play. Employees do not like being kept in the dark. It causes them to feel out of the loop, undervalued, and unimportant. The long term impact of under communicating is a breakdown of trust, lack of confidence in you as a leader, or any number of other less than desirable perceptions. Whenever a leader under communicates, employees will try and fill in the gaps and their imaginations can run wild, which can very quickly snowball into rumours and gossip in the team. 

3) Talking more than they listen

“The sincerest form of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – Bryant McGill

Employees feel far more engaged when they feel heard and valued. Not only that, but they also feel safe knowing they can approach you and that you will listen. When you don’t slow down to be present with someone, or you’re half there but the other half is preoccupied with something else, it can cause distrust and lack of confidence in you, but it will also limit your team’s creative potential as they are less likely to come to you with ideas and suggestions for improvement and growth.

We’re all guilty of some of these mistakes at some point in our leadership journey, and we are human after all, but a great leader will raise their self-awareness to a level that means they can easily catch themselves demonstrating bad habits and correct them. 

Here are 3 tips to improve your communication today: 

  1. The majority of our communication is non-verbal, and non-verbal communication is influenced by mindset. Take a moment before you enter into a conversation or meeting to get yourself into the right frame of mind. Tap into the right energy for the conversation, such as excitement or confidence, so that this energy is channelled in your verbal and non-verbal signals.
  2. If you are someone that under communicates then try over communicating for a while and see what impact that has. Think out loud sometimes instead of keeping things in your head.
  3. When it comes to active listening, listen with your full attention. Listen to learn. Listen without interrupting and don’t rush to respond. It’s tempting to jump in when someone is speaking, especially if you’re jumping in to be helpful, but it’s removing the chance for someone to fully express themselves and tap into their own creative potential to solve problems.


My name is Rachael, I am the founder of Simply Veterinary Coaching. I have been working with the veterinary profession for 9.5 years and specialise in professional and personal growth coaching for leaders in the veterinary profession. I am known for helping veterinary leaders take their self-awareness to a whole new level so when they are under the magnifying glass that leadership puts you under nothing gets in the way of them creating a happy, inspired, productive team, and a successful and highly regarded veterinary practice. Results start with you. Leaders Grow First.