You Never Know Who Knows Whom

A few years ago a friend of mine who sells finance to dentists shared with me a very disturbing story.

Now when I say he sells finance to dentists, what I mean by that is that he organises money for dentists to make purchases of equipment, investments, and lifestyle choices.

For businesses to grow, sometimes finance from a third party is an essential ingredient.

Anyway, on this day my friend had phoned a dental practice to speak to the dentist about some finance that dentist was wanting. The dental receptionist who answered the phone, and who must have been having a bad day, had abruptly and violently ended the call with my friend and had slammed the phone down in his ear.

Now I say that she must have been having a bad day because there is absolutely no reason and no excuse for anyone to demonstrate this sort of bad behaviour towards another human being.

How rude was that?!?!

My friend was taken aback. He phoned me to tell me about this horrible experience, and to ask me whether he should let the dentist know that he had been dealt with in this manner.

Together we discussed the pros and cons of letting the dentist know that his receptionist had behaved this way…

Just this week…

Just this week I encountered a similar reaction from a dental receptionist when I phoned to speak to the dentist.

Rude is probably an understatement.

I rang and asked if the dentist was in today.

The receptionist, let’s call her Colleen, asked me:

“Is this about implants, or something else?”

I asked if the dentist was with a patient, or was able to come to the phone?

I told Colleen that it was a personal matter and that I just needed a couple of minutes to talk to the dentist.

Colleen responded by letting me know that nobody gets to talk to her dentist unless they tell Colleen what it’s about.

Frankly it’s none of Colleen’s business.

I phone a lot of dental practices and speak to a lot of very nice and polite and courteous dental receptionists.

If the dentist is with a patient I always ask to leave a message for the dentist to phone me back when they have a couple of minutes available to speak with me.

I’m always very clear on the fact that my message is important, but not urgent.

And that the reason for the call is a private matter.

And when I say private, I mean it’s a matter for me to discuss with the dentist.

I never want the dentist to be called away from a patient. Patients come first.

With the call to Colleen’s practice this week, the feeling I got from Colleen was that the dentist actually worked for Colleen, and not the other way around.

Colleen actually said to me after I had given her my name:

“What sort of a doctor are you?”

I told her that I was a dentist, and I asked Colleen what her role was.

Colleen replied:

“Well I’m the practice manager and nobody gets to speak with [the dentist]  without going through me first.”

What Colleen didn’t want her dentist to be getting was a phone call from anyone who was going to tell her dentist that the staff in the dental practice could work more productively and efficiently to make the dentist more money.

And so Colleen assumed the role of “gatekeeper from Hell” for her dentist.

The thing is this:

If Colleen’s dentist was interested [or not] in what I had to say then all that dentist needed to do was call me back, listen to what I had to say , and respond accordingly.

No big deal either way.

When the dentist or the receptionist predetermine a course of action that pre-supposes what a phone call is about, then they immediately restrict the results that they might otherwise receive.

As a child I remember watching an episode of the Mickey Mouse Club where one of the Mouseketeers was telling the story of how he opened and unwrapped his Christmas presents one year in the order from the largest to the smallest, leaving the smallest gift to last.

When he opened the last present, what he found inside that small box was a Mickey Mouse Club watch, something that he had always wanted for as long as he could remember.

And so his message was this:

He said that from that day onwards, he stopped making assumptions and predeterminations, and began to look at things with a far more open mind, taking the appropriate means and measures to investigate and evaluate everything as much as he could.

In conclusion…

The dental practice receptionist who slammed the phone down in the ear of my financier friend made the assumption that my friend was only selling finance.

And in making that assumption, she also made the assumption that my friend was never ever going to be in a position to recommend a person to become a patient of that practice?

You know, like someone who my friend might know or do business with that was looking for a dentist in that area?

At my practice in Parramatta we treated everyone who phoned or came into that practice with honour and respect.

Even the postman, [let’s call him Jim], who hand delivered mail to our practice every single day.

When it was time for Jim to go to the dentist, guess where he decided to come to?

Yes. He came to our practice.

And our practice was not the only dental practice on Jim’s daily mail route.

And I wonder how many people Jim told about our practice at all of the businesses that he delivered mail to?

You see, you never know who knows whom, and who recommends whom, do you?


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