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Thursday Troubleshooter: Dental pro struggles to get along with her peers

Nov. 8, 2018
This dental professional of 23 years starts out by saying she gets along well with others, but that's not really the case. She quickly finds fault in the offices where she works and makes others mad when she brings up problems.

Do you have a problem or concern on the job? Sometimes people are just too close to a situation to solve something themselves. Share your concerns with Team Troubleshooter, and the experts will examine the issues and provide guidance. Send questions to [email protected].

QUESTION: I have an RDH, RDA, DA, front office experience, and have worked in dental offices for 23 years. I have always been able to go with the flow in the offices where I work, and I do my best work as a temp. Now I’m with an office three days a week and I’m struggling every day to stay positive and enjoy my coworkers. There are so many things that bother me that I’m starting to resent my boss and coworkers. Unfortunately, I have trouble expressing myself without making the opposite party feel defensive. Do you have any ideas for how I can express my frustrations without bringing on the anger that usually follows? I often end up subbing or finding a new office until that one also makes me mad. I’m not good with the talks.

ANSWER FROM KEVIN HENRY, cofounder of IgniteDA:
People can rub us the wrong way for many reasons. Sometimes it's a personality clash. Sometimes it's a clash of beliefs. Sometimes it's how they act or their quirks. We're all different people motivated by different things, so no matter how hard we try, annoyances can happen.

So, let's focus on what can bring people together in a practice. Patient care is obviously one thing that everyone can agree on. (If not, there's a bigger problem.) I believe another common focus is the mission statement of the practice. How long has it been since you and your coworkers looked at the mission statement of the practice and determined if it's still applicable or if it should be updated?

If your mission statement says something about "a family atmosphere" or "caring for your patients" or something that implies a warm and relaxing environment, then there can't be drama festering. It has to be addressed ASAP.

You can express yourself by not talking about what someone is doing wrong but rather why everyone’s actions in the practice, including yours, can have a lasting impact on patients. I often talk about how a dental practice is a small business. That small business depends on customers to keep it flourishing. If your customers don't feel comfortable coming into your business because of a division between employees, they won't come back. It's that simple.

Express your frustrations in a businesslike tone. Talk about how certain actions can have an impact on your customers. Now, you can't do this by telling everyone how wrong they are. But you can talk to them about ways that the business can be better by letting some of the personality traits that are hampering your relationships be trumped by your desire for great patient care and the best environment for your customers.

I honestly believe you don't have to like everyone you work with. You do, however, have to respect the role they play in the business and in the lives of your customers. Find the things that bind you together rather than the things that tear you apart. Focus on the mission statement and how it applies to everyone. Focus on treating your customers in the best way possible. When the focus is on what can be done together rather than what pulls you apart, things can change in an amazing way.

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Don't be shy! If YOU have a tough issue in your dental office that you would like addressed, send it to [email protected] for the experts to answer. Remember, you'll be helping others who share the same issue. Responses will come from various dental consultants, as well as other experts in the areas of human resources, coding, front office management, and more. These folks will assist dental professionals with their various issues on DentistryIQ because they're very familiar with the tough challenges day-to-day practice can bring. All inquiries will be answered anonymously each Thursday here on DIQ.

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