Vet Med Talk: How To Cope When A Client Doesn't Like You


If you've been in vet med long enough, you've probably experienced the sinking feeling when you discover that a pet owner requested to not see you or you receive negative feedback (even though you're a really awesome human and vet). 

Here are 7 tips for coping:

1. First, it feels good to be liked! It’s normal and okay to feel uncomfortable when someone doesn’t.❤️

Allow yourself to observe the discomfort that is part of being a human with a heart. Notice how the part of you that can observe the discomfort is separate from those emotions that you’re experiencing and that in this moment you are safe.

Fun fact: The chemical reaction of an emotion only lasts for 90 seconds.

Pause and give yourself 90 seconds to feel the emotion without judgment so it can come and go.

2. Notice if there’s an urge to people-please.

Do you have a strong urge to do something to make the client change their mind and like you even if they were disrespectful or you’re telling yourself it “shouldn’t be a big deal”?

People pleasing is a sign of the fawn trauma response which is important to know, because it means that someone not liking you is going to feel VERY threatening to your nervous system. Even though you can logically tell yourself it shouldn’t bother you this much, your nervous system will respond as if you’re being chased by a lion. 

People-pleasing is different from genuine kindness, because it is a compulsive action to do whatever you think you need to in order to come off in the best way possible (nurturing, pleasant, nice) so that the other person can help you to feel safe. 

In my experience, the majority of vet med is in the fawn trauma response because we’ve normalized being stuck in survival mode and we’ve been rewarded and selected for our willingness to self-sacrifice our own needs in order to help and take care of others (the high burnout rate makes sense).

People-pleasing is different from a healthy relationship, because it tends to be very one-sided and involves you being extremely “nice” regardless of how the other person reacts, behaves, or treats you.

To learn more about stress responses, check out my free Beat The Burnout resource or learn how to break free from the people-pleasing tendencies so you can start prioritizing what you need to protect your energy and sanity in my 3 month Game Changer program.

Now let's talk about some ways to tell your body “I’m okay”...

3. Let your body know you’re safe with Faster EFT* to release and let that shit go.

Tap the top of your head while saying, “I release and let this go”, then repeat that statement while tapping:

  • between your eyebrows
  • lateral to your eye where you can feel the bone
  • under your eye where you feel the bone
  • on your collar bone/chest area

Then hold onto your wrist, breathe in, and slowwlllyy exhale. Feel the release + repeat as needed.

For a video tutorial check out my free 1 minute anti-anxiety tool resource or watch the “Anti-Anxiety Tools That Actually Work” video in the Beat The Burnout series for 7 anti-anxiety tools you can use anywhere.

4. Release the negative energy that doesn’t belong to you.

Let's play a little! Hold your two hands out in front of you palms facing up. Does one hand stand out more? Is one colder, heavier, or maybe it’s something else? 

Which hand is the one that represents all of the uncomfortable emotions and thoughts associated with this situation? (If you’re not sure, just guess.) 

Now imagine sending any negative energy or thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing out onto that hand (you may find closing your eyes helpful).

Once the negative emotions are out on that hand, shake it off T Swift style or do whatever feels right in order to release all of that energy that doesn’t belong to you.

Notice how emotions are energy in your body that you can play with and change.

An emotion only stays stuck when you resist feeling it or if you keep feeding it with your thoughts or by mentally replaying it (like a gif frozen on the moment that feels shitty). So now let’s address that mind of yours to redirect it in a helpful way...

5. Keep a list on your phone of all of the proof that you’re a really awesome vet.

Include the nice things owner say about you, rewarding cases, photos of kind notes, etc. If an owner not liking you is really bugging you, it’s probably because you’re used to clients who adore you - collect proof of that!

Having a space where you can be reminded of all of your successes and the proof that you’re an awesome vet will help to prevent one negative client interaction from taking that away from you.

This list is hugely helpful any time you have “one of those days”, experience imposter syndrome, etc. Start it today!

6. Celebrate that a potentially draining client fired themselves.

If the owner didn’t see the amazing human that you are, then they were going to be a draining client. 

If they requested to not see you again, celebrate that they saved you a lot of time and energy by essentially firing themselves so you don’t have to create a boundary in the future.

By choosing to not see you, they helped to make more space in your schedule for clients who ARE the right fit for you and who help you to practice vet med in a way that feels fulfilling and energizing instead of draining.

With that said, this is also an opportunity to increase self-awareness and to grow.

7. Embrace curiosity instead of judgment.

Judgment only leads to dead ends that don’t feel good. Once you’re in a less emotionally charged state, get curious about if there’s anything you can learn from the experience in order to be a more effective communicator for that type of pet owner in the future.

Collect data from the owner’s perspective:

  • Do you think they felt heard and that their concerns were addressed (even if you had different concerns)?
  • Did they understand and absorb what you were saying?
  • Did they feel like you were rushed? Is it possible they felt judged?
  • Were they in a stress response like “fight” where they may have been more likely to interpret facial expressions or comments in a negative/threatening way even if they weren’t?

Situations that feel uncomfortable are the best opportunities to reflect in order to increase self-awareness + resilience and to learn and grow. Think of these moments like growing pains!

Knowing how to regulate your nervous system and to protect your energy and sanity is key to being able to navigate these uncomfortable situations in a way that ultimately leaves you feeling empowered rather than anxious, frustrated, or defeated.

Check out these resources and programs available for you and your hospital if you‘d like to learn more:

  • For information every vet professional needs to know in order to protect your energy and sanity, check out my free Beat The Burnout series.
  • To learn more about why trauma responses happen and how to shift out of those automatic patterns that make you feel out of control, that’s one of the topics we dive into in my 3 month Game Changer program (all you need is 10-15 minutes per day to go from feeling totally overwhelmed and like you never have time for you to actually having time for you again and even having your coworkers commenting on how calmly you navigate a really stressful situation).
  • I also offer workplace well-being consulting. Contact me at to discuss how to support the energy + sanity of your team customized to your goals and their unique preferences and needs!

*Faster EFT is an awesome technique from my brilliant teacher Melissa Tiers.


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