7 tips to Be On Your “A” Game: Leave office drama and personal issues at the door!

by | Apr 9, 2020 | Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienists, Dental Job, Dental Office, Dental Professionals, Employer advice, Hiring, Practice Advice, Work Life | 4 comments

As much as we hate this time in Quarantine, it gives your Dental Office a wonderful opportunity to press the “reset” button for a healthy, productive future work environment!

This week we have Robin Prober sharing her 25 years of knowledge in leading a drama-free dental practice.  

Here she gives us 

7 tips to Be On Your “A” Game: Leave office drama and personal issues at the door!


With the high rate of practice closures due to COVID-19, dentists and their employees are feeling the pressure.  It definitely puts the “typical” stresses of a dental office in perspective.  

In my 25 plus years in the dental field, I found that office drama and personal issues are a common thread in so many offices. And it’s understandable, we spend more time at work than we do at home and many times we tend to “overshare” our problems with our co-workers, employer, and our patients. Dentists and employees alike enjoy the bond they develop with each other and with patients. Many of us are in this field for the satisfaction we derive from developing relationships with patients and our co-workers (myself included)!  But, not careful, this can cause more harm than good. Let’s take a look at 7 ways to have an enjoyable working relationship without overstepping boundaries. 


#1 Let your team Members do their assigned tasks. 


It’s well known that dentists are natural caregivers and want to be “loved” by their patients, many times making deals and discounts without thinking about the impact it has on the practice, (even to their own detriment) but do so to be the “good guy” and look good in their patient’s eyes.  

However, Practice Management 101 tells us to have the dentist walkout, not discuss money with patients and get your treatment coordinator or office manager in and let them explain and educate the patient on treatment needs, insurance and payments.   

This goes for every position in your practice.  Make sure your team knows their responsibilities and let them do their job.  Team members really want to provide the needed support that the dentist needs to make the practice successful and patients happy. The ultimate goal: happy Doc, staff, and patients! 

Use this reset to discuss expectations with each team member and trust them to do their jobs. 


#2 Don’t Gossip – Especially in front of your patients. 


I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed dentists and employees during treatment airing their dirty laundry.  Discussing everything but the kitchen sink while working chairside or while checking patients out. 

Why in the world do they think their nervous patients (who are there for their dental procedures) want to hear all about their personal drama or relationship problems?  

I don’t know, but I can tell you this.  

 Nervous patients won’t tell you to be quiet while they are at your mercy.  They just want you to focus on their dental treatment! 

Sure diversion conversations are good but it shouldn’t be personal and it should be about the patient, not you! 

If you or your team members talk too much about themselves to your patients it can make patients feel like their dental health issues are not being fully addressed.  This can result in a lost patient, or worse, a negative review.  

Use this reset to set the expectation with your teams that gossip or negative commentary to patients or in front of patients will no longer be tolerated.  


#3 Keep it professional


Patients are there for their dentist, assistant and hygienist professional advice and quality care. They are not there to become your best friend! They should not be privy to your personal life struggles or triumphs. Co-workers also don’t want to hear your personal struggles repeated to patients or team members all day either! Focus on your work. Be a positive attribute to your practice. Be cognizant of others who are there to work hard for the overall success of the practice. Your personal drama creates office drama so just don’t do it! 

Use this reset to start practicing exercises with your team to leave personal issues at the door and set a positive, motivating and uplifting work environment.  This should start with your morning huddles.  


 #4 Listen


Dentists, Assistants, Hygienists and front office personnel all need to be friendly and helpful, that’s a given, we established that point!  They need to be warm and welcoming and in tune with patients’ needs. Getting to know your patients for who they are while treating their dental needs is an excellent way to gain their trust!  To do that your dental team should listen to what patients have to say and build upon that. Listen to their concerns, what is going on in their lives? You can take what they tell you and formulate strategies for successful treatment planning and care.  At the same time take charge of the conversation and move it back to their dental concerns and focus on the reason they are there. Take the time to be as thorough as possible with any and all dentally related issues while you have the person in front of you. They are a captive audience at that time, take advantage of it.


Use this reset to formulate questions you and your team should be asking every patient.  Develop a strategy to document what they tell you, so when they come back in you can remember your previous conversations with them.  


#5 Communicate 


Effective and optimal communications with patients while in your office can make or break a practice. It can take your practice from a good one to a great one! It will also increase the overall production and success of your practice and at the same time create a harmonious environment for the whole team! Patients will also take notice that everyone is working for them and they will appreciate and enjoy coming to the dentist.  It’s an added plus to have fun, laugh and make patients as comfortable as possible that creates a great environment for everyone!


Use this reset, to practice communication with your team.  


#6 Address Issues Quickly


No one is immune to life struggles. Everyone has “stuff” but no one needs to hear it at the office. Petty issues amongst co-workers need to be addressed by the Dentist or Office manager and resolved quickly.  I have also seen practices lose great team members due to the Dentist or Office Managers inability or lack of knowledge in defusing and resolving conflict quickly. Dentists do not want to have these conversations and let drama fester way too long!   It is draining and tiring for everyone as well as non-productive and seriously gets old real fast. Patients can feel when everyone is walking on eggshells. Be appropriate and put patient health first.


Use this reset to truly evaluate your team.  If you have a member, who you feel will continue to cause trouble once your office is back up and running, let them go.  You can find a wonderful new employee on DirectDental


#7 Be thankful

Look forward to getting back to your prospective offices and value and respect each other and the jobs you were hired to do.  

Appreciate the hard work each team member puts in daily and the value your patients bring to you. 

Stop the unnecessary negative chatter that is not productive.  

If you were mad at someone or something at your office when your office closed, forget it, don’t hold a grudge and move forward.  Anger just gets in the way and is so harmful to the success of a great dental practice. 

Be YOU, by all means,  bring all your wonderful personality and expertise that you were hired to bring to the table without negativity or personal stories that don’t pertain to patient care.  

Your dentist and YOU,  yourself will see an increase in acceptance of treatment along with a happier healthier teamwork environment. 

Strive for a higher level of care with exceptional patient interactions which results in a better practice and increased individual success!


Use this reset to reevaluate what truly matters in life and business.  Make sure you are running or working in the practice you always dreamed of.  


Remember, your patients were deprived of their dental care for so long and maybe on edge and in greater discomfort than ever before. 

Ultimately we need to bring our “A” game as individual healthcare providers and know that we are just one piece of a puzzle working in harmony to seamlessly create a fabulous experience for our patients and for one another.

Once everything settles and we can get back to work, I hope this assists you in rebuilding the perfect team and practice.


Thank you,

Robin Prober has been in the dental field for over 25 years. She has provided many dental practices with her services as a dental consultant increasing productivity and strengthening the well being of many dental teams as well as dentists themselves. She is a “people person” who wholeheartedly provides her expertise and knowledge into valuable practice management and marketing strategies for your practice.

She is a native San Diegan, born and raised in La Jolla with a BA in Sociology from UCLA. Robin provides team members and dentists sound solutions that guide you towards overall success and happiness.

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858 204 6622