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Why women don't get along in dental practices


Why women don't get along in dental practices

Editor's Note: You'll see below that I asked my friend (and author who has killed it with some of her past articles like this one and this one) to write about a topic I have heard so many dental assistants and hygienists talk about when I have traveled the country. This is not a "woman bashing" article but rather an attempt to tackle a subject that seems to rip dental practices apart from time to time. Read on...

Are you serious? My editor asked me to write about this. (Yep, he is a man. Men just don’t get it. They think that they know what women want, what women need, what women are thinking? but let’s face it: They are clueless!) Let me teach you a few things, Mr. Editor, about women and why they don’t get along.

Women are wired differently than men are. (Before I go any further, I want a disclaimer to say that this isn’t ALL women. It is a stereotype about women. There are stereotypes out there because face it, some of us fill them.) There is this part of us called “emotion” that most men seem to not have. But instead of the word emotion, let’s call it passion. We are passionate about the world in which we live. We want things to be done the right way. We often want to be the center of our universe. We want to be “right” all the time. My mom once told me she was “the closest thing to perfection I will ever see.” (Wow! Talk about an ego that can fill a room.) No one is perfect. But, we think that we are right all the time. We get frustrated when others have ideas that don’t support our premises. Sometimes, it turns into down-and-dirty catfights. (Yes, I am calling it like I see it.)

Why don’t we get along? Why does there always have to be a “Queen Bee” with a pecking order hierarchy? Again, this isn’t about all women. But, there are some women who just don’t work so well with other women. I hate to say this, but I always have preferred to work with men. Why? It is just easier. The only problem with men is if “signals get crossed” and they cross a line. But, for the most part, it is easier. They are straightforward and don’t seem to care about issues that women care about.

OK, simple example: How many of you have been irritated with your direct supervisor? What have you done about it? Some of you may have gone and confronted the supervisor and addressed the issue. Some of you may have talked about it over and over again to your work buddies. The gossip mill runs rampant in a dental practice. First, let’s bust this myth. When you tell someone something important, do not expect that they will keep it to themselves. Most (if you notice, I didn’t say all) women will repeat it. They may repeat it to another friend or co-worker or their spouse/partner. But, it doesn’t stay between the two of you. With a man, well, in my experience, they don’t gossip as much as women do.

How can we deal with this innate personality trait of the “Queen Bee?”

Realize that you are all expendable in the workplace. Ouch—isn’t that kind of harsh? No, it is reality. If you cause too many waves, your boss can get rid of you quite easily. Everyone can be replaced.

Avoid the irritant as much as possible. Stay off the radar. Don’t interact with that person unless you have to, and always make sure you are professional and friendly, not passive aggressive.

Detach. Really? How does one do that and yet work hard? You need to figure this out. Detach from the drama, but not from getting your job done. My favorite phrase is “oh well.” (Seriously!) Why? Because, let’s face it. We get so caught up in nonsense day in and day out that you are wasting your time and energy.

Learn the politics in your practice and figure out what your best strategy should be. You may have to suck it up and just ignore it. Keeping your job is important. Job satisfaction is important. Going up against a power player can put you out of the game. Sometimes, you just have to let things pass. Other times, you should address the issue, but realize that you aren’t the “Queen Bee.”

Respect yourself. In some situations, you may have to leave your job if the hostilities are unbearably uncomfortable and don’t get better. I always believe in addressing the issue directly with the offending party. But, quite often, that doesn’t work and can make things worse. You need to respect and take care of yourself. If you are in an abusive situation, you need to fix that one way or another. You have to be able to fight for yourself or make a contingency plan to get out with your reputation intact. This is a small world, ladies. Word does travel whether you use a practice as a reference or not. You are important. Don’t forget that.

I am sure this is not the article that you envisioned, Mr. Editor, but that is fine with me. I am a “Queen Bee,” but I have learned something along the way: Just because I am the center of my universe doesn’t mean I am the center of anybody else’s. I have no secrets of how to deal with “Queen Bees” or other women in the practice. What I do have is life experience from disregarding politics and getting myself fired or not playing by the rules. In the end, they were life lessons, but it just took me a long time to realize that you have to learn to play nicely with other women and in particular with the “Queen Bee.”

If you have had a “Queen Bee” in your practice and have found a way to deal with her, shoot me an email at diana2@discussdirectives.com. Till next time.


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