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Dealing with Negativity in the Dental Practice


Complaining and venting among the dental staff doesn’t solve issues, but being proactive and hearing each other can go a long way to fixing common issues.

Dealing with Negativity in the Dental Practice. Image courtesy of Paolese/stock.adobe.com.

Dealing with Negativity in the Dental Practice. Image courtesy of Paolese/stock.adobe.com.

How much time is wasted venting and sniping in a dental practice? Unfortunately, I have no ability to calculate that for you. My experience has been purely anecdotal, but it is something we should be thinking about.

Every day, dental professionals are faced with a variety of issues inside and out of the operatory. In a changing and often-stressful world, it can be difficult to maintain the kind of professionalism that patients expect from their clinician. In the face of these changes, there are effective ways to navigate personal and professional trials–it’s just about finding them.

Master's level social worker supervisor and dental practice recruiter, Lisa Newburger, LISW-S, is offering key insights and advice for dental professionals ranging on a variety of topics. With a focus on reaching personal and professional goals, Lisa hopes to guide dental professionals on how to be the best version of themselves.

Have questions for Lisa? Reach out at diana2@discussdirectives.com and your question may be answered on dentalproductsreport.com.

People vent. Isn’t it a good thing to not get ulcers by sharing our feelings about what is bothering us? That, I fear, is a double-edged sword. Yes, share your feelings, but remember to filter them first. Why? Because the amount of venting, complaining, griping, and whatever else you want to call it is not productive from a management point of view. If we curbed the complaining more would get done and we can get out on time.

I went on Facebook and joined 5 dental groups a year ago. It was stunning on the amount of negativity dental professionals were spewing. Yeah, support is a wonderful thing, but let’s face it– is it constructive? I didn’t think so. There were no strategic solutions. Just frustration and anger.

This gave me the idea to start a Mastermind Group for Dental Products Report®. I wanted each discipline to have a place at the table and the opportunity to sit down with Doctors, Hygienists, Assistants, Front Office Staff, and Office Leaders to listen to different perspectives on issues that are important to all of us. DPR told me to run with it, and I did.

We are running our 21st Mastermind Group. It is amazing how this is the opportunity to listen, and I mean really listen to different perspectives and be heard. What cracked me up was one conversation where the doctors listened to other disciplines share the drama that happens in the office. The doctors had no idea these challenges exist. It was eye opening. They must have great office leaders managing their staff. This way, they are focused on dentistry and bigger business issues.

That “Ah-ha” moment is priceless. When you can hear different perspectives on issues, it makes you both appreciate and respect each discipline as well as become a better listener. Take it a step forward. It isn’t just listening, it is hearing and respecting new ideas. This has been such a wild success. It has built up confidence in staff and compassion from the doctors. We have been able to learn about things to be honest that we may never have thought about.

The buzz word is that we all say how important corporate culture is, but a lot of practices out there have significant staffing challenges. This can be from the personalities of the staff or even the doctors. Some cringe when I say that some issues come from the top down, but it is the truth. A healthy work environment starts at the top. Respecting each of us for the skills we contribute to an office does go both ways.

We are wasting valuable time if our complaints don’t make anything better. The trick is to find constructive ways to resolve issues. If you complain, have a suggestion or 2 on how to resolve the issue. Complaining without a plan isn’t going to get the results you want.

Look at how much time you are engaging in listening to time wasting complaining. Being passive doesn’t improve anything. Set boundaries with colleagues, and keep in mind that the sooner you finish for the day, the sooner you get to balance your work and life.

I would really like to hear your thoughts about the negativity in your practice. Please email me at diana2@discussdirectives.com. If you are interested in being a guest in the Dental Products Report Mastermind Group, let me know. We are always looking for those who want a seat at the table.

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