What is it about colder weather that suddenly makes everyone feel entitled to know about our love life, reproductive health, and our political views?
It feels like January through September is pretty easy with light topics to chat about and then WHAM, Mid October hits and everyone needs to know everything about your personal life.
In most cases, I usually inform people that their question is rude and I won’t be answering it. But when it is a dental patient and you just finished reviewing their health history form, you need to offer a little finesse in combating their personal questions.
So this post aims to let you know what conversations you should avoid when you are working as a dental assistant, registered dental hygienist or front office staff. AND… how to quickly and effectively change the subject.
# 1 Your love life
Questions about your love life usually come from your patients that have been coming to the office for years. And are often friendly and harmless. But you have to be careful, we have all had the pervy patient hit on us and it’s always uncomfortable.
If you feel comfortable with the patient, keep your answers short and CLEAN, but if it is someone who shouldn’t be asking simply say, “Oh, a lady (or gentleman) always keeps personal matters out of the office.” It is a super friendly and slightly humorous response but gets the point across that you will not be answering that question. Then you are free to ask them about their vacation goals.
#2 You reproductive health
The dreaded “When are you going to have a baby?” OR “When are you going to get pregnant again?” questions get asked 1000x more than usual during November and December. And this is one where I often tell people it is one of the worst questions you could ask someone. For Many Reasons! But again, you can’t really say that to a patient. My most common response is “When men can get pregnant.” It is a short and strong answer and in a very nice way shuts down the conversation. Very rarely do they push for more.
#3 Anything that could be viewed as political
Which feels like everything. But this one you have to be careful about. Dental offices lose patients over politics all the time. So if someone is requesting to know who you are voting for, or your thoughts on any heavily divided topic, you can simply say, “Oh goodness, I love coming to work for a little reprieve from all this stuff. How about you tell me about your favorite vacation destination.” Getting people to talk about themselves beats politics everytime.
You can also reply with, “I was raised to never talk about politics, religion or whether the toilet paper roll should go over or under.”
This is always a no-no in the office. You never mention how much you are being paid or what your financial situation is. Mainly because the person you are telling it to, does not know what to do with that information and it is not like they are going to be able to help.
In a Dental Practice, (especially around the holidays) patients confide in you their financial situation when they can’t afford the dental work they need. They might ask “Could you afford this treatment?”
That is not an invite to tell them your financial situation. Rather, let the doctor know and work with the doctor to prioritize treatment so they can afford some of the work. You can also offer them to work with a company like Varidi to get the financing they need.
#5 Office Gossip
This one is the hardest. Your patients feel personally invested in you and your coworkers and when something juicy is happening and you have fresh ears to tell, it is so so sooooo tempting. But don’t. It could be overheard, or get back to the coworker that you were discussing them with a patient. It is an absolute recipe for disaster. Save it, and then gossip to your friends that you don’t work with.
#6 How you dislike your job
Sometimes your patients know you so well, they can tell when something is off. If it is work related, best to keep it to yourself. Usually replying with “Oh, I didn’t sleep well last night.” or “It has been a busy day! So happy to see your smiling face.” Will suffice when your concerned patient asks about your sad face. But if you see a trend where too many patients are asking why you are sad, it might be time to find a new job. There are plenty on DirectDental and you can even test drive most offices to see if it is the right fit for you! So turn that frown, upside down!
So there you go, 6 conversations to avoid in your dental practice. And, how to avoid them.