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Apr 18

How to Escape your Comfort Zone

Back when I first started working in a dental office, I’m very sure I was no big prize for the office. Aside from needing to learn my way around dental terminology, I also needed to learn to deal with boundaries for patient appointments, to present treatment, to handle unreasonable patients and to ask for money from patients. None of this came naturally to me, and none of it was covered in my liberal arts education. I just had to do it! As a somewhat introverted person, this was a very big job for me. I now have staff members in offices that I have to coach to do all these things, so let’s look at a few tips I try to share. These tips can also apply to dentists who have to reprimand, warn and even terminate staff members.

1. Relax and laugh frequently. When I first began my career I took everything way too seriously. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be thorough and on top of things, but if the job is keeping you awake at night, you need to loosen up a bit. One of my most frequent comments in offices is “Folks, this isn’t brain surgery. If the brain surgeon says oops, we have a real problem. If you or the doctor say oops, we can always fix it.” Even when things are going a bit wrong, if you maintain a sense of humor, your patients are likely to do the same.
2. Think about the traits you feel you’re missing and would like to have. Now look around and find someone who has those traits. Your role model isn’t even always in the dental office, it might be someone in your family, or in another business you frequent. Watch them carefully and listen to them carefully. Now become an actor or actress and play at being them when you need those traits. An example might be if you have an awful time asking patients for money, yet when you see your MD, his front desk person has no issue asking, and you have no issue paying. The next time you have to ask for money, act like her. Speak like she speaks, move like she moves and smile like she smiles. If you act these parts out long enough, they become part of who you are.
3. Be sure you’re working in a practice where you have complete faith in everything that’s being done in the office. If a patient complains about being overcharged and cheated, and you tend to agree with them, you’re probably in the wrong office. Get familiar with the office philosophy, fees and treatment so you can present it with pride in a job well done.
4. My final note, and this is a big one for doctors also, is separate the personal from the professional. You may know someone is having tough personal issues, and you may well sympathize with their situation. That, however, needs to stay on the personal end of things. If they’re not doing their job properly they’re hurting everyone on the team. Whether you’re an office manager coaching a staff member, or a doctor terminating someone’s employment, what you do is for the good of the entire office. Get out of your comfort zone and into the good business zone.


As dental practice management consultants, Mosaic Management Professionals, Inc. teachs you what the numbers mean for your success; shows you the opportunities that exist in your practice and helps you become someone who can attain the dream of personal and professional satisfaction. Let us help you handle the day to day and month to month details of your practice while we provide the training and support that will put all the pieces together into a beautifully aligned “Mosaic” that depicts your practice. Our initial consultation is always complementary and we maintain flexible hours to suit the needs of our clients.

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