My 6-month-old puppy was spayed yesterday, an action that was traumatic for her (and me!), but in the scheme of things, very ordinary. There were no complications and after a few hours, they sent her on her way.

It was routine surgery and I’m sure any vet in town could have performed it in essentially the same way. But what set my vet apart was that in addition to the pills and wound-care instructions, Emma came home with a letter that explained her experience:

Today was a very special day for me!…My day started when the veterinarian and the nurse made sure I was OK to have surgery. They looked me over carefully and then took some blood samples for tests…After this step, I was given some medication which made me feel a little sleepy. While I was relaxing, they told me I would soon fall asleep and, when I woke up, the surgery would be all done…They told me not to worry, because I would be given pain medicine before I even woke up, and they would also trim my nails while I was sleeping!…It seemed like only a few minutes but then I woke up and the nurse told me surgery was all over. I was kept warm and comfy with soft blankets, and the nurse called my family to tell them how everything went.

 These are [some of] the instructions from the veterinarian to help take care of me for the next few days:

  • Don’t let me lick or scratch at my incision site. If I can’t leave it alone, I may need an Elizabethan collar (the Cone of Shame!) to keep me away from it.
  • No bathing (yay!) or swimming for the next 7-10 days.

…So that was my big day! Everyone at Colonial Terrace Animal Hospital was very nice and made me feel special! They said my family is lucky to have me (and I know I am lucky to have them), and that I was a wonderful patient!

 I have had many dogs spayed over the years, and none of them have come home with anything but the standard, rote instructions. In fact, it seems that everything that requires directions comes with plain, technical language.

Why not take a few extra moments to make your communications memorable? Especially for situations like spay surgery that happen frequently, an investment up front can pay multiple dividends and help you become the Top Dog in your client’s mind.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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