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Speaking the Right Words Speaking the Right Words

Speaking The Right Words to engage peacefully, productively, mindfully & collaboratively in the new reality Get the Virtual Program

2020 has been a game changer for most of us. Much of what we have known has been altered by world dynamics. We often don’t even know the words to use now to begin a conversation that will not be perceived as offensive to others.

Has the art of collaborative conversation been lost? We don’t think so. What may have happened is that cordial conversation has been replaced by reactive, and volatile, discourse which leads to stark polarization and strong defensiveness in communication.

How do we navigate such conversations to reach a positive outcome? What tools might serve us in the art of less defensive communication toward others? Are there skills you can put in place in life and practice that will help you recognize and then choose not to rise to/engage in emotional discourse?

We believe there are and that is why we are here to help.

Our free workshop and conference with learning breakouts will help you:

  • Building memory muscles for recognizing and understanding reactive communication.
  • Learn how to react less defensively and converse less rigidly.
  • Develop an advanced set of “tools” for addressing conflict resolution.
  • Gain that must needed understanding of how words color a conversation, including which words are empowering or offensive.
  • Expand your awareness and fine tune your interpretation of this new world of hyper-reactivity.
Why Join Us

Our goal is to provide you, after two days of instruction and collaborative discussion with our presenters, an incredible resource for self-awareness, self-understanding and self-care. After this program we want you to feel prepared and competent to use the tools you are taking away in everyday life. Speaking the right words will promote curious conversation, reduce conflict while helping you nip conflict in the bud.


Kimberley Khodakhah, DVM Veterinarian, Vetopia

Dr Kimberley Khodakhah is a small animal veterinarian with 25 years of experience. A natural leader, she has functioned as both Medical and Hospital Directors and currently works relief in New York and Massachusetts. Dr Khodakhah combines her veterinary experience with a deep desire to help others. She developed and directs veterinary spay/neuter programs with the SPCAs of Fiji and Saint Vincent. A Certified Professional Coach, Dr Khodakhah supports members of the veterinary community to prevent and combat mental health issues through Vetopia, Inc. Her podcast, Time to PAWS, advocates ceasing opportunities to create an ideal career and life. Dr Khodakhah is an Advisory Board Member of several organization.


Debbie Boone Veterinary Consultant, 2 Manage Vets

Debbie Boone is a self-professed “customer service geek and champion for animal health”. She began her training in business management and the care of customers while growing up in her family’s six restaurants. A love of animals lead her to a degree in Animal Science from NC State University. To get her foot in the door to her dream job, she began her career in veterinary medicine as a part time receptionist in 1985. Her business, retail & hospitality background quickly moved her into the position of hospital administration. She managed AAHA accredited hospitals for 23 years. She is considered an expert in team communication and creating positive practice cultures.


Stacee Santi, DVM Founder & CEO, Vet2Pet

Stacee Santi, DVM, is the founder and CEO of Vet2Pet, the only customizable, all-in-one client engagement and communication platform for veterinary practices. Since earning her DVM from Colorado State University in 1996, Dr. Santi has accumulated more than 20 years of clinical experience in small animal and emergency practice, and has spent significant time serving on advisory boards, such as NVA, Zoetis, and the Veterinary Entrepreneurship Academy. She is also currently serving as past President of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association.


Garnetta Santiago, MA, LVT Manager of Academic and Professional Affairs, Zoetis

Garnetta Santiago, MA, LVT, is Manager of Academic and Professional Affairs for Zoetis, where she helps drive strategic engagement with Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Technology programs in the United States and Caribbean; as well as educational, wellbeing and professional development outreach to the veterinary profession through several digital platforms. A graduate of the veterinary technology program at SUNY Delhi, Garnetta has been a New York State Licensed Veterinary Technician for over 17 years, and worked in small and mixed-animal clinical practice, shelter medicine and academia as adjunct faculty in the veterinary technology program at Ulster County Community College. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science (Syracuse University); a Master of Arts degree in International Relations (Rutgers University); an Associate of Applied Science degree in Veterinary Science Technology (SUNY Delhi), the Professional Certificate in Online Education Instructional Design (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and is working on completing the Certificate Program for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine through Purdue University. With areas of interest in feline medicine, veterinary technician advancement and diversity and inclusion, Garnetta has spoken extensively on a broad range of topics including professional and personal empowerment, small animal nutrition and cultural competency in veterinary medicine. She currently serves as President of the New York State Association of Veterinary Technicians.

Garnetta lives in New York’s Hudson Valley region with her husband, daughter, two rambunctious orange tabby littermates and lots of wildlife.


Nadine Hamilton, BSc(PSYCH), PGDip.Psych Psychologist, Positive Psych Solutions

Dr Hamilton helps veterinary professionals get on top of stress and conflict to avoid burnout and suicide, and also works with practice managers and owners to increase wellbeing, productivity, and retention in the workplace.

After failing every one of her exams at high school she decided to join the workforce at the age of 15. While she has always been passionate about animals, she learnt very early on that she was way too queasy to become a veterinarian - plus she didn't think it would be possible because of her failure at high school. She knew there was 'something' about euthanaising pets that would be very distressing for veterinary professionals, and in a strange twist of fate, found herself researching this indepth at doctoral level...

Way back in 1996 when she was searching for her 'calling' and had decided to apply to study psychology at university, one of her cousins tragically killed himself. It was at that moment she knew she wanted to work with people who were suicidal, however, she still had that yearning to be involved with the veterinary industry. A chance encounter with a locum veterinarian at her local veterinary practice around 2006 was a pivotal moment – when the veterinarian mentioned the high suicide rate within the veterinary profession. That was all the motivation Dr Hamilton needed to get proactive and do something about it!

Since then Dr Hamilton has successfully completed doctoral research into veterinarian wellbeing, and is the proud founder of the "Love Your Pet Love Your Vet" charity, in which she partnered with Royal Canin to raise awareness about the issues within the veterinary industry. She is also completing further research into stress, burnout, and suicide within the veterinary profession. Dr Hamilton works tirelessly to advocate for veterinary wellbeing and the paradigm shift she believes is needed in order to facilitate positive change within the profession.

Dr Hamilton is the author of “Coping with Stress and Burnout as a Veterinarian”, published by Australian Academic Press and released in February 2019, and the winner of the Blackmores Mercie Whellan Women+Wellbeing Award in 2020.


Dr. Dani McVety, DVMFounder & CEO Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice

Dr. Dani McVety founded Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice just 3 months after graduation from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Now an Inc 5000 company, and 6 time recipient of the Gator 100 award, Lap of Love has visited the homes of over 150,000 families, with a nationwide network of over 120 passionate doctors and a full time interdisciplinary support staff. Their team is dedicated to making the end of life experience for pets, and the people that love them, as dignified and peaceful as possible.

Dr. McVety has become widely known among veterinary students nationally and internationally for her ability to authentically share her personal struggles through veterinary school. Her underlying message is one of accountability, hard work, and a focus on entrepreneurism.

Dr. McVety and Lap of Love have been featured on numerous local, national, and professional media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Huffington Post, and many more. She is proud to be a Gator and is the youngest recipient of both the UF CVM's Distinguished Young Alumni Award (2013) and the Florida Veterinary Medical Association's President's Award (2014). She was honored to also receive the Tampa Bay Up and Comer’s 40 under 40 Hall of Fame award and the Pet Industry Woman of the Year in 2017.

With a home base and business headquarters in Tampa, FL, Dr. McVety’s most prized moments occur at home, with her husband Dominic, and children Baron (12), Collins (9), and Lion (1). Her non-human kids include 2 dogs, Blitzen and Grace, and horse, Vanna.

Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton Attorney, Hamilton Law and Mediation, PLLC

Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton is the principal at Hamilton Law and Mediation, PLLC, (HLM). HLM uses understanding based alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methodologies to transform disagreements over animals while facilitating neutral discussions and providing parties with an opportunity to choose peaceful conversation over litigation.

Her presentations are rooted in conflict transformation and self-reflection. Attendees learn in a more holistic way to recognize their triggers and ability to nip conflict in the bud.

Debra is the go-to person for this kind of information by the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Sun Times, Bloomberg and the US News and World Report.


Kelly Baltzell, MA CEO, Beyond Indigo

Kelly Baltzell, M.A. is President and CEO of the Beyond Indigo family of companies, which she founded in 1997. Under her leadership, Beyond Indigo companies have developed all types of veterinary websites that now reach millions of people each year in multiple countries. Since 2015, Beyond Indigo has been a certified Google AdWords Partner, and works directly with Google. Additionally, Kelly has been a monthly columnist for AAHA Marketlink since 2011. She has also spoken and been published in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK. Kelly graduated from George Washington University with a degree in international affairs and economics and received her master’s degree in counseling and psychology from St. Mary’s.


The Program

Day 1

BONUS Earlybird Workshop: Responding to Reviews & Comments

Having issues with reviews? Need to know how to respond to negative comments on reviews and Facebook without people hitting the roof? Come to this bonus workshop to learn where/how to keep an eye on your reviews and how to respond to them. Session will include presentation as well as hands-on interaction with a team of online review specialists who will help address your specific negative review questions / needs in small breakout groups.

Presentation #1 Stop, Drop & Roll Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton

When face with difficult conversations it can feels as we're on fire. Whether the conflict is with a client, colleague or staff member we'd rather evacuate than douse the flames. This program provides you with the firefighting tool to save yourself and the scorched earth of typical conflict discussions while creating a platform on which to regrow relationships.

Presentation #2: How to Manage Our Most Difficult Discussion - MoneyDebbie Boone

In this discussion learners will explore the challenges Veterinary teams face when we must inform clients about the cost of care. Do we feel guilty or ashamed? If so why? Our expertise is valuable and lifesaving for animals. We just need to understand how better communication with clients and self talk about this taboo topic can make everything better.

Presentation #3: Speaking the Right Words at the End of Life: When You Don't Know What to SayDr. Dani McVety

In veterinary medicine, our clients serve as proxy for their pet’s wishes in almost every interaction they have with a veterinarian; from the decision to amputate a limb, chose surgical versus medical treatment, and even the choice to remove from “life support” and initiate euthanasia is a common path that the veterinarian must walk the client through on behalf of the pet. Legally, the clients are in fact owners of the patient and our communication and established rapport with that owner is imperative if we are to gain the trust such that our medical knowledge will be put to use for the betterment of the pet and/or the treatment of a disease. Learning how to gain that rapport is where the rubber meets the road!

Presentation #4: Keeping your cool when communicating - but still get your message across!Dr. Nadine Hamilton

Communication is one of the most important tools we have. When communication is ineffective it can result in conflict, hate, resentment, frustration, anger, and so many more negative feelings and emotions. Being able to get your message across assertively is one of the best things you can do - and this presentation will provide you with some simple strategies for doing just that - keeping your cool when communicating.

Day 2

Presentation #1: Wag More, Bark Less: Improving Team Dynamics Through Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Competency and Communications Garnetta Santiago

Employing approaches to connect with individuals of different backgrounds in ways that support their uniqueness is crucial to promoting overall wellbeing for the veterinary healthcare team. This presentation will explore the relationship between unconscious communication patterns, emotional intelligence, team dynamics and wellbeing.

Presentation #2: Mentoring is the Language of Success Dr. Kimberley Khodakhah

Mentoring plays a critical role in personal development and career success. Effective communication, relationships and medical prowess are integral parts of the practice of veterinary medicine.

Presentation #3 Unlocking the Power of Digital Communications with Clients Dr. Stacee Santi

From spam-robo calls to the busy lives of clients, talking on the phone is becoming the least effective form of communication from the receptionist to the doctor. Using a multi-modal digital strategy to communicate messages and educational information to your clients is easy and is definitely more efficient. I'll show you how!

About Speaking the Right Words How this free conference came to be

Kelly Baltzell, CEO of Beyond Indigo Pets and Debra Hamilton, Principal of Hamilton Law and Mediation, PLLC, where talking one day. They quickly realized a common thread in their work. Everyone is discussing change, in people, events and discourse. Yet no one is addressing HOW each individual will manage these changes for the benefit of themselves and others. They looked at each other and said where is the HOW?

How do people use words and language to better address this new inclusive movement? What techniques can be taught and employed to calm people down before anger erupts? They put their heads together and came up with the idea of a series of events featuring speakers who will help “fill” attendees' communication “toolboxes”. Giving people the skills they need to have empowering and curious discussion will lead to an outcome that is collaborative, not quagmired in defensiveness and negativity. The goal of their collaboration is to introduce these tools to participants, which will help them facilitate these kinds of discussions. They look forward to creating an important series of webinars and workshops whose mission it will be to taking stress out of this changing landscape. Join us and become the first to grab your tool kit for free.

Giving people the skills they need to have empowering and curious discussion will lead to an outcome that is collaborative, not quagmired in defensiveness and negativity.