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Be the Calm Doctor, Plus 7 More Tips to Better Your Pet Business

We can learn a lot from emergency room doctors. They excel at managing other people’s anxiety after all.





Imagine you end up in the ER after a fall. Will you respond best if the attending doctor freaks out and yells, “Oh, my! That’s horrific!” Or if she looks at your scrapes and bruises and calmly says, “Let’s take care of that.” It’s the same in any stressful situation, argues designer Mike Monteiro, in an online essay: “Anxiety is conductive. It wants to travel from one person to another.” At his studio, they have a rule: Stop adopting other people’s anxiety. “Once a client becomes anxious,” Monteiro says, “their primary goal becomes to make you anxious because that justifies their own anxiety.” Apply this approach not only to customers but your staff as well. Be the calm doctor.

GOAL-SETTINGKnow When to Quit

With the new year comes “sky’s the limit” thinking. But a little negativity can be a good thing, argues Annie Duke in her new book, Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away: “Optimism causes you to overestimate both the likelihood and magnitude of success and stick to things too long. Unchecked by realism, it prevents you from quitting when you ought to walk away.” Keep this in mind when re-evaluating 2022 efforts for 2023.



If you haven’t already, give customers a sneak peek at what you have planned for this year. Are you expanding into a new product area? Introducing new services? Growing your staff? Taking any industry training? Send out an email recapping the past year and let people know what you have planned for the new one, Constant Contact recommends in its monthly marketing newsletter.

SELF-MANAGEMENTInstitute a Progress Ritual

One of the biggest problems with being the boss is that few people will give you direct feedback on your performance or directly offer kind words of inspiration. And yet studies show that the single biggest motivator of performance is the feeling of making progress in a meaningful task. But if your underlings aren’t likely to do that, you have to find the feedback yourself. And the best way to do that, business author Dan Pink says, is to establish a progress ritual. “At the end of every day, take just 60 seconds to record and memorialize what progress you made that day.” Then pat yourself on the back … or light a fire.

MARKETINGChange the Story

“When times are good, buying things is a sport. It’s a reward. When things aren’t so good, we need a new story to tell ourselves,” marketer Seth Godin writes on his blog. Business owners have to figure out how to change the story their customers can tell themselves, he says, citing the example of how a $4 cup of premium coffee can change from becoming a trivial indulgence in good times to a reward for a financial sacrifice in bad times. “It all adds up to a perception.”

MANAGEMENTCompliment More

Few things are more powerful than a compliment, but many hold back from saying nice things out of fear the other person will find it annoying, that they’ve heard it all before, or that they’ll stumble over their words and deliver a poor one. But these concerns are nearly entirely groundless, says Vanessa Bohn, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Cornell and author of You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion, and Why It Matters: “Just worry about getting the words out because people like hearing nice things about themselves. Most people say they wish they gave more compliments. And it turns out they make people happier than we think.”


PRODUCTIVITYSet Yourself Real Tasks

If your 2023 to-do list is anything like ours, it probably features items like “Learn to read Dostoevsky in Russian” and “Climb Mount Shasta.” But these aren’t tasks, they’re projects, Gina Trapani, founder of, says: “To get to the point where you’re checking things off, you want to make it a doable to-do list. Things need to be as easy for yourself to do as possible. So you have to break things down into tasks.” In other words, think small.

COMMUNICATIONMimic Your Customers

Studies show mimicking the way someone talks is one of the most effective ways of building rapport. Sales pro John Nicolosi recommends: “Match customer’s tone of voice (up or down), speech tempo (fast or slow), words they use.” So if they say they are looking for a shampoo that makes their dog’s coat “shine,” then you say “shine.” Don’t overdo it, though. You want your customers to think you’re like them, not making fun of them.

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won more than 20 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+ editors at



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