Stop Complaining about Your Patients and “Let it Go”

Not a day goes by where I don’t hear someone complaining about the patients in their dental office. Having come from working in a dental office for many years, I completely understand how frustrating it can be when you give your “all” to your patients, and yet they seem to have no appreciation or consideration for your feelings.

When I first started working in dentistry, I didn’t understand how the staff that had been there for many years, and should have their systems down cold, would still get super frustrated at the first sign of a rude customer. But worse, they weren’t just shaken by the exchange with these people and then recovering by focusing back on their work. Instead, the entire story, in excruciating detail, of what happened was retold countless times to the rest of the staff.

In my rookie role in dentistry, I thought, why go through all the trouble and wasted time to do this? Little did I know, I would get sucked into a trap that happens in many dental offices. I noticed, as time went on and I got more involved in my job, that I wanted to fit in with the staff. The office culture, as in many, was one that encouraged venting and bashing of patients behind their backs.

I would call my spouse or mother on my drive home from work, and I would again retell the agonizing stories of how terrible the patients were and what happened during the day. I began to despise my job and got very stressed out.

Then one day, my husband suggested that perhaps it would be better to not retell the stories from work that made my day worse. I started taking his advice and I found that I would arrive home more relaxed and happy. He said, “I don’t mind listening to your stories if you need my help coming up with a solution for how to solve the problem or make things better. Venting for the sake of just venting is only going to make you more upset. Why would you want to relive the part of your day that you disliked?”

I started to think about this. It made total sense. Why would I want to relive the part of my day that I disliked? It didn’t make me feel better. Not only is it stressful to yourself, but it’s unprofessional, it makes your work inefficient, it robs the time of others, and it gets everyone else upset too.
This was exactly what was making it worse. I decided to make a change. It had to first start with myself. When annoying things would happen, I learned to just (as the song says) “let it go!”

Not only would I let it go, I realized that over time, the best thing I could do for these patients was not take their issues personally, but do my best to help them and make their day better.

What you need to realize is that we work in the service industry; an industry where we are here to serve our clients. We aren’t just here to sit behind a computer and file insurance all day (unless that is specifically your only job role—and even if it is, we are still going to be working with people in some capacity). Patients are coming to us because they are in pain, they are suffering, they are hurting, and they need someone to help them with their issues.

We almost have to look at patients as if they are children that don’t know any better. I have a 3- year old son, and when he gets emotional, I don’t scold him or get angry with him further. I simply work at empathizing with him as I do my best to help him with what he needs. I don’t take it personally and it makes it easier to do my job as a parent.

It’s the same with your patients. Your end goal is to just be there for them and do your best to serve them. Even if you cannot fix what they are upset about, at least you have remained calm and didn’t get sucked into their drama. This is vital for you keeping your cool and enjoying your job.
Almost every industry you will be dealing with customers, people, and many times even fellow co-workers that might be dramatic. The less you complain about it and the more you focus on the positive in your job, the more you will succeed and love what you do!

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