Stress is a daily part of our lives both professionally and personally. Healthy stress, such as that which can help us to get through pressurised situations, can be a motivator to push ourselves and deal with difficult circumstances. However, unwanted stress can have dangerous health implications including depression and anxiety. In today’s article we look at the negative impact that complaints can have and how mediation can help to reduce stress whilst finding a solution.
A complaint can be caused by many issues that result in the client escalating an issue which they are not happy with. Often, communication can be at the centre of the complaint and rarely, according to our insights, does the complaint have to do with FtP issues. As a veterinarian, a complaint is stressful because it can add to an already busy work schedule (provoking feelings and concerns over balance), can question one’s professional ability and sow doubts one’s commitment to their profession. Conversely, as a client, a formal complaint can cause stress over the outcome (will it be upheld?), the relationship with the vet (not wanting to lose a valued service) and they can feel out of their depth.. A complaint generates deep feelings and emotions within both parties – doubt, anger, guilt and frustration – and these powerful emotions can, at times, cloud judgement but at all times can add to our stress levels. With so many unknowns when a complaint is raised, both for professional and animal owner, stress levels naturally are raised with an issue overhanging both parties before it is resolved.
Stress is usually a reaction to mental or emotional pressure. It’s often related to feeling like we are losing control over something, but sometimes there’s no obvious cause. When we feel anxious or scared, our bodies release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This raised level of hormones, and we all know the feeling, is a scary place to be – especially when one is hoping for an outcome that is favourable to a complaint.
Funded by the RCVS, our independent mediation service has helped veterinary professionals and members of the public to work towards mutually beneficial outcomes. As an impartial service, we do not take sides and help both parties to work towards resolution. Unlike litigation, our alternative dispute resolution involves both parties as we seek to get to the heart of a complaint. How can our service help to reduce the stress inherent with a complaint?
Listening is a key, active skill in which our mediation teams are trained. As stated, we do not take sides and we seek to understand the cause of the complaint. By listening to both parties involved, we are able to start to unravel what the complaint is about which can help all involved that the issue is being addressed and a solution is being explored thus reducing stress.
Studies have shown that simply talking about our problems and sharing our negative emotions with someone we trust can be profoundly healing—reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress.
Support in this instance is the set of processes by which one communicates care and concern for another, offering reassurance, empathy, comfort, and acceptance. Impartial and fair, by offering our support, with many professionals and the public commenting on this, it can help both parties to feel heard and reduce their stress levels.
Validation does not necessarily mean agreement but is one of the most important aspects to helping to reduce stress. For members of the public, the chance to speak freely about their experiences to a mediation professional can help to ease their stress whilst focusing on the matter at hand. Likewise similarly for professionals, the chance to speak with an experienced mediator who is impartial and independent, not connected to their practice, can help to validate their feelings and concerns.
One of the most obvious and overlooked aspects of the stress relieving nature of approaching the VCMS is that when one engages with our service they can feel that they are moving forward. This ability to move forward, to address the issue and find a solution can help both parties to feel that the issue is being resolved and thus reduce their stress.
Perspective helps us to understand situations from other positions, to consider other beliefs, experiences and viewpoints. This gives us a better understanding and greater empathy. It reduces bias, judgement and reduces conflict. Engaging with an impartial mediation service like the VMCS and our processes, can help both parties to gain a different perspective, reducing stress and looking for resolution.
For more information on any of our services and to speak to our professional team of mediators, contact the VCMS on 0345 040 5834 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.