Your front desk just said “ummm” 37 times in a new patient call after intensive call training.
Your assistant just dropped her 4th instrument today after you asked her to “slow down”.
A mom, who has been shown her child’s poor brushing 3 times with documented paperwork blames you for her child’s white spots.
A parent wants a full refund for her teen’s Invisalign treatment because the teen wouldn’t wear them as suggested, so it’s “your problem”.
A dental assistant from an office that never refers gets upset at the discount you offered.
Every day we’re faced with situations that test our patience. Some are reasonable and some are way beyond anything considered acceptable. The problem is, we’re not in the tooth straightening business. We’re in the customer service business, and whether we like it or not, our responses to everyday problems will shape how well our practices and mental health will be.
We want to scream and just let it all out, or take a stand and hold our ground and say “NO!!!” but realistically, that’s not how it really works. Communication and setting expectations is always the key, or so you’re told, but what do you do when you’ve done that and yet, you’re faced with the same problems, over and over again.
I am reminded of a situation from 22 years ago, shortly after I had taken over my restorative practice. Like many of you, I practiced alone. No partner and at the time, no Facebook groups where I could share my problems.
I had a patient come in for a simple DO amalgam. No biggie, and it went well. However, the patient had sensitivity afterwards, which isn’t unusual. What was unusual is that the patient refused to accept that we needed to give it time. I had adjusted the bite, used a rubber dam so there was no contamination, took my time and gave my best work. Yet, here they were, as unreasonable of a patient as I had met in my short 5 years of practicing, threatening me with a whole series of ridiculous statements (you’re not going to sue me for $220 or get my license taken away) and it was clear that they simply wanted their money back.
I called my attorney, a quiet, skilled and experienced practitioner. I went on and on about how insane all of this was and there was no freaking way I was going to pay them back the $220. After all, I did good work. The filling was great and the sensitivity would likely dissipate in time. He asked me one question which I remember to this day:
“Glenn, is it worth $220 to never see this person or hear from them again?”
He was 100% correct. In that particular case, I could be right or I could be happy, but not both. This has been my motto since that time. I don’t need to be right. I just want as little stress as I can in my life.
I can write nasty letters or emails to people who piss me off. I can stand my ground when I’m sure I’m being taken advantage of. I can make examples of people and “show them!”. But it’s not healthy for my mental well being and it’s not good for my practice or culture.
So, the next time you’re faced with someone who takes you for granted or tries to take advantage of you, simply take a deep breath and repeat what I say every morning as I prepare for my day: “I will NOT react emotionally.”
It’ll be better for your patients, your family, your practice and your well-being.
Wishing you the best,
If you want to be a part of a geographically exclusive Facebook group (OrthopreneursRD) where we come together to help each other build better practices and lower stress, please message me. To learn more about your region’s availability and what it’s all about, click HERE.
GLENN KRIEGER IS AN ORTHODONTIST WITH 20 YEARS OF RESTORATIVE AND COSMETIC DENTISTRY EXPERIENCE BEFORE HE RETURNED TO ORTHODONTIC RESIDENCY. DR. KRIEGER LEARNED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF WELL-DESIGNED PRACTICE POLICIES AND SYSTEMS DURING A YEAR AT THE SCHUSTER CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN SCOTTSDALE ARIZONA, AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF GENERAL ACCOUNTING PRACTICES AND INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON GRADUATE BUSINESS SCHOOL’S “DENTIST AS CEO” PROGRAM. HE IS THE HOST OF “THE ORTHOPRENEURS PODCAST”, MANAGES THE ORTHOPRENEURS FACEBOOK GROUP AND RUNS THE ANNUAL ORTHOPRENEURS SUMMIT.
Here’s a great article on non-emotional decisions to peruse: https://www.idealist.org/en/careers/6-ways-to-control-your-emotions-and-make-better-decisions