Most Dentists Have Trouble With Addressing This One Behaviour….

It’s funny, but for some reason dentists have difficulty with confrontation.

I see dentists often say to me:

“I couldn’t ever say that”

And really, by not doing what I tell them they should say, these dentists are committing themselves to extra misery and despair.

And I’m not talking about SELLING.

I’m talking about staff issues.

I hear of an inordinate number of dentist employers who don’t like the idea of having to resolve conflicts in the Dental Office.

And sometimes that conflict is including them, the dentists.


Have you ever had a staff member roll their eyes at you?

Have you ever had a staff member huff and puff?

Or cross their arms?

Because that staff member disagreed with something that you as the dentist owner has said, done or asked?

And it shouldn’t be so….

We’ve all watched enough military movies to know that for an army to perform optimally there needs to be a chain of command…. and respect.

Haven’t we?

One of my previous employees was a dental assistant in the Royal Australian Navy.

And her words were:

“Rank commands respect”

In a dental practice, employees expect their owner to be civil and courteous.

But we need to understand, that our owner has invested a lot of time and money into the business, and for that fact, that they are owner, there needs to be respect shown to them.

Those without “skin in the game” need to be mindful that they will be asked to do things by those who own the business.

And as long as those tasks are not illegal or immoral, then they should be performed when asked for, without an eye roll or a huff, or any other sign of disdain.

Sadly, a dentist I know is finding himself on the receiving end of the “attitude” eye rolls from one of his team members, whenever there’s a change of plans in the dental day.

And that sort of behaviour from the employee needs to be addressed and eliminated.

Because in a small office of sometimes only three or four employees, there can’t be any signs of dissention.

Or “pushing the envelope”…

Sadly, performing dentistry is one of those “events” where we try to estimate the time needed for certain procedures, but sometimes we end up with unexpected surprises that make our days a little more challenging.

This dentist I was talking about was receiving eye rolls from a team member every time one of these challenging moments surfaced.

And when the eye roll appeared, this outward display of dissatisfaction from the team member would upset the dentist.

And sometimes eat away at the dentist because the dentist disliked confrontation.

And sometimes the eye roll would cause the dentist to be worried all day by this earlier sign of dissatisfaction from the team member…

So what should you do if this happens in your office?

Obviously this behaviour needs to be addressed.

And quickly.

Because it can eat away and away and away if it is not addressed.

My advice is that resolution needs to be found sooner rather than later.

Firstly, it is not appropriate to discuss the behaviour in front of the patient.

However, as soon as possible is better than a few days later.

You can’t discipline a puppy for going to the toilet on your carpet three days after the event.

The puppy doesn’t understand.

And so you need to speak with the team member as soon as is possible.

I like to approach the team member and let them know that there’s something that I need to discuss with them. And organise a time to do so.

At that meeting I’d say:

“I’m not sure whether you knew that you did this, but today with Mrs. Jones I felt some eye rolling by you towards me when I changed the schedule, and I didn’t like how that made me feel…”

And whether the team member concedes this behaviour or not, I need to let them know that this behaviour is not appropriate.

“There’ll always be times in dentistry when we have to be flexible for our patients, and that’s what happened for Mrs. Jones. And while I understand it’s a change, we have to be professional.”

“Rolling our eyes is not professional, is it?”

During my time as a business owner I’ve even seen staff roll their eyes in agreement, towards each other, as a sign of mutual objection about a situation or about a patient.

And that’s a behaviour that also needs to be addressed.

It wouldn’t be appropriate in the military.

Why should it be tolerated in a small business environment?


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