Unfortunately, not everyone in this field is warm and fuzzy. A wise woman once said, “What other people think about you is none of your business.” In a small knit community and even smaller knit practices, this is a motto to live by. Coming in as a newbie and dealing with an unfriendly workplace can create a lot of anxiety.

Being new and having to adapt to a new culture can have its challenges without hostility from current coworkers. Therefore, the ability to tackle it is a skill set that every veterinary technician should master. Below are some tips to help you navigate through rough waters. 

Deal With an Unfriendly Work Environment being upfront - I Love Veterinary

Be upfront

Go to the source. If someone or something is bothering you, it’s best to confront it head-on. When someone is giving you a problem try pulling them aside and asking what the problem is. After addressing it, together you should come up with a few suggestions that can help ease the tension. Sometimes there is a simple solution, and sometimes the other person is unaware of their behavior. Either way, without saying it out loud it remains unnoticed and festers. 

Animals above all

Pride should always be pushed aside, so it does not get in the way of you doing your job correctly. Sure, you like to tape in a IV catheter one way, and your coworker likes to tape it in another. Regardless of the technique, the goal is that the IV catheter stays in. Everyone may have different ways of doing things but the animal being put first should be shared. 

Step outside the situation

Stepping outside a situation and allowing your feelings to be reflected on can give clarity. Sometimes there’s a deep-rooted issue that is resulting in their negative behavior. It can be as simple as taking a breath and counting to 3. Without taking another look you may not be able to see it and may act inappropriately. 

Veterinarians and husky puppy - I Love Veterinary

Keep it professional

Professionalism in the workplace should be held to the highest standard. Our industry is constantly lacking the credit it deserves. It can come in the form of someone in a lower position lecturing you on how to do your job, or it can come in open conflicts.

In any situation, it’s important to maintain your composure and professionalism. Do not engage in arguments or nasty behavior. Keep to your job and continue to approach the issue at a more appropriate time, and avoid any animosity in front of clients. 

Not everything is personal

Change can invoke a lot of different anxieties. When a new coworker comes on board it can offset the dynamic that is currently in place. So as a new coworker it can be that the current employees need to adjust to your presence while you acclimate to there’s.

In some situations though, you can do everything and these types of coworkers are still unhappy. If this is the case you need to realize that it’s not you, it’s them and sometimes it’s just best to leave it be. Remind yourself that it’s not personal and separate your feelings. 

Talking to a friend, how to deal with unfriendly environment at work- I Love Veterinary

Outlets outside of work 

When I would have difficult situations at work I would often call my partner to discuss them. Even though your other coworkers will most likely understand the situation better their opinion is often biased. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who is outside the circle so they can help find a clear solution to your issue. You also don’t run the risk of them telling others and creating a telephone effect at your job, which will only perpetuate the issue.

Also when emotions are involved your thinking tends to be cloudy resulting in rash decisions and saying things you’ll regret.  However, if you say it to someone who is on the outside, they most likely will take it with a grain of salt, and it will stay between the two of you. 

Remember it’s work

The veterinary field tends to be unique in that it has many emotional situations. Due to these situations, we become closer and shed more of ourselves with our co-workers than we may in other fields. That is when the wall between personal and professional tears down.

Even though this is a great thing for building trust etc. it can also create a hazy line where you forget that you are at work. If you detach yourself from the emotions and remind yourself that you are there not for friendships (although an added plus) but to help animals. By doing this you keep your focus and are able to separate your feelings. 

Get a manager involved, how to deal with unfriendly environment at work- I Love Veterinary

Get a manager involved

No one likes to make a mountain out of a molehill but, sometimes you need to get a superior involved. Even if it’s just to play a referee, having a manager listen to both sides may help offer solutions and allow you to see a situation in a different light. It can also make them aware of any bullying going on so that if it happens again there’s a record of it. 

Nothing is set in stone 

At the end of the day remember that your job and situation are not permanent. If you are truly unhappy and nothing is changing you can always find another one. However, it’s important to exercise all the previous suggestions first because they are skills you can take with you. Keeping this in mind can relieve some of the anxiety that may be in place. 

Veterinary team - I Love Veterinary

Acceptance

Once you are a  part of the team and the dust has settled remember that you may face these situations again when other new members come on board. It’s important to keep the same ideas in mind and always treat others with respect. Especially if you were in the same place as them and know how it feels.

Being a part of a team is a great experience and can only get better with new additions. Everyone has something to offer and is an important piece of the puzzle. 

Summary

You will always have coworkers who are unhappy with you being at the job. It can come in many forms. They can feel threatened, reluctant to change, they don’t want to train another person, etc.

Unfortunately dealing with unfriendly coworkers and their attitude is not limited to one workspace. Therefore, knowing how to deal with it is a valuable trait. By learning and dealing with controversy each time you will learn better ways to go about it resulting in better outcomes.