I would like to make a suggestion. Imagine backing up a bit ... slowing down and taking a different look. Go ahead; take off the loupes. What do you see? More teeth, a tongue, a cheek? Back up more. Now what? A face, a person? Someone you know? Now let’s get metaphysical ... back up more, and imagine you are looking down from the corner of the room. You see your dental assistant. Now look from the roof (imagine it’s glass), and you see your entire staff engaged in working with other patients. Keep going ... now you see your community, your local as well as your professional and business community. Yes, from these views you realize just how connected you are to others. You realize that what makes you who you are is your relationship with other people — people who you don’t even know.
And yet you spend most of your day looking at gums and teeth and orifices.
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There is an ad campaign created by GEICO that is currently being shown on television. It begins with two people in conversation and one says, “Did you know 15 minutes could save 15% with GEICO?” The other person says, “Everyone knows that.” Then the first one says, “Yeah, but did you know that some owls aren’t so wise?” Then the ad shows a cute skit with two owls. The point of the ad is that we take so many things for granted ... until we really think about the implications.
One of my mentors once said that he never saw a tooth walk into the office. Yet, when I mention that during my presentations, I feel I might have said, “You know 15 minutes will save you ...” That’s because dentists seem to take relationship-based dentistry for granted. Don’t! It is probably the key to your success.
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Long before we can achieve success, we must live in the world and be aware of other people and their circumstances and problems. Understanding people and creating relationships are the key. Most of our education is spent with our loupes on ... looking way too close at teeth rather than at people. The overemphasis on technical dentistry has made dentists myopic, and this myopia is affecting not only our patients, but our staffs, our families, our communities, and the entire dental profession.
I am not suggesting that technical dentistry is not important. I am saying that it may be wise (like an owl) to take off the loupes every once in a while and spend time learning about self-development, leadership, and communication.
Editor’s Note:You may order Dr. Polansky’s new book, “The Art of Case Presentation,” atTAOofDentistry.com.