There Are Right Times, And Wrong Times, For Being Nice…

The business of dentistry is so complicated when it comes to the blend of personalities, duties, and skills.

I often hear the catchphrase:

“We hire for personality first”


“It’s easier to train a nice person to do what is needed than to train someone who knows what to do to be a nice person…”

And most of the time this is true..

But there are times when nice needs to be packed into a box while work needs to be done.


There needs to be a turning point during the patient’s visit where the pleasant talk is replaced by serious treatment talk, so that the patient understands their dental reason to return. Transitioning the conversations to do this is an art that the entire team can learn, and control.

And a good team will know when it is the right time to turn on the charm, and when it is the right time to roll up their sleeves.

And they’ll know these times and these roles down to a tee.

For example, it’s not appropriate for the receptionist or scheduling coordinator to enter into a sociable conversation with the patient as they are being handed over at the front following hygiene or following treatment.

This is a no social time zone.

The purpose of this handover is to cement the need and the urgency of the next phase of the patient’s treatment.

And social at this time is purely a distraction to the purpose of the protocol needed at this time.

And that purpose is to create the Clear. Next. Step. for the departing patient.

And at this point, having someone launching into a discussion about last night’s “You’ve Got Talent” TV show is probably going to present an unnecessary major detour and distraction inside the patient’s mind.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1

So it’s imperative that all team members, no matter how blessed they are with the gift of the gab, know when it is time to speak social, and know when it is time to zip social.

They all need to know what topics and what genres need to be spoken when, as well as when not.

“A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;” Ecclesiastes 3:7

It is the same down in the hygiene room.

It’s great having a friendly and sociable hygienist, but when it comes to the time to discuss treatment, next appointments and urgency, then everyone needs to know that this is a time when the social needs to be switched off and the patient’s health, as a subject, needs to be switched on in total focus and isolation.

“a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” Ecclesiastes 3:2

I’m a firm believer in the choreographed one-two team examination in hygiene, where the hygienist has finished everything hygiene with the patient before the dentist comes in to do the restorative exam.

In this way, the dentist and the hygienist and the patient can focus totally upon the restorative needs, without the distraction of returning to a “hygiene moment” straight afterwards, and in so doing losing the moment with respect to the urgency and necessity of those restorative matters.

[This is something I have discussed in detail previously and is worth reading again here]

“a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;” Ecclesiastes 3:5

Benjamin Franklin said:

 “A place for everything, everything in its place.”

And the dental practice is no different.

Successful case presentation, treatment planning and treatment acceptance is not something that needs to be put down to chance.

Every patient needs to have their diagnosed treatment completed.

Having the team working together as a team helps to ensure that more treatment gets understood, and therefore completed, rather than delayed.

“Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)”— is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song, and the final verse of the song, are adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, set to music and recorded in 1962.
The song became an international hit when it was covered by the American folk rock band The Byrds, reaching #1 on the US Hot 100 chart in December 1965. In the U.S., the song holds the distinction as the #1 hit with the oldest lyrics (Book of Ecclesiastes), theoretically authored by King Solomon.


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