Mess with a pig and you'll get dirty

It has been said that after meeting with the great British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, you left feeling he was the smartest person in the world, but after meeting with his rival Benjamin Disraeli, you left thinking you were the smartest person.

It’s human nature to feel good about people who make you feel good. It doesn’t mean that you should lavish unnecessary praise on those around you in the hope that they will like you. It doesn’t work like that. Great people just understand that if you make those around you feel good, great things happen.

Gene Kelly, one of the best dancers of the last 100 years once said that his secret to success on the big screens of Hollywood was:”You always want your partner to look the best he or she can possibly look…don’t outdance her…make her look great.”

He understood that if you make others look great, it can only come back to you in droves.

But is that what you’re doing on a regular basis?

Yesterday I had a middle aged woman come to me for a second opinion on a surgical case. She had seen another local orthodontist whom I knew, and she wanted my opinion because his “sounded a little too extreme”. When I asked her how she found me (and the other orthodontist) she said it was google reviews and she had traveled about 35 minutes to come to the two of us (we’re about 10 minutes apart).  

I had a choice: I could bash the other orthodontist and build myself up, or I could do what I did. I told her what an amazing guy the other orthodontist was (true) and that I would have zero problem having him treat my own kids (true) and that he really knows what he’s doing (true). I could literally see the tension fall of her face when I said that. It made her feel good to know that she had indeed chosen correctly the first time and it reinforced her faith in me. There’s a point to the story.

Making someone else look bad, never makes you look good.

All too often, younger (and older) docs feel the need to make themselves look good at the expense of others. I get it, and I’ve been there. When you’re new and with no reputation, you want others to think you’re special, but that just takes time. Do great work, offer exceptional customer service, treat your patients genuinely as if they were a part of your family, never miss a chance to do the right thing and always come from an abundance mentality. But always do your best to avoid putting down someone else.

Sure, there are times where you need to be truthful about a clinician whom you know to be dangerous. I had a dentist in my community 20 years ago who was described by a fellow GP as a “public menace”. Its true that at 85 years old, he was probably practicing at far less efficiency than he should and yes, I saw at least a few of his patients who needed to have at least 15 teeth removed due to supervised neglect, but I would still do everything I could to sway people away from his office without over-embellishing his negative attributes or sensationalizing what I had seen. What would I say to patients if he was my father practicing on them?

But what if the dentist is a lying snake who deceives his/her patients? Yes, there are crooked, dishonest, immoral and nasty dentists who are a blight on our profession, but I’m a firm believer that acting in a way that debases you isn’t the way to go.

When you mess around with a pig, you get mud on you too. So, I do everything I can to be honest in my assessments to patients and support them in getting away from these docs. I used to try and chat with these doctors to give them the benefit of the doubt or write nice letters to them urging them to reconsider what they were doing, but they don’t care and I have more positive things to do in my life…like write blogs. 😉

Today, try to go out of your way to praise everyone and to make them the center of attention. Find out what makes them tick and talk about their interests. Your day will go way smoother and the positive vibe will be contagious.

All the best,

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