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I Have a Mean Dental Assistant


Dear Sharyn,

I have a dental assistant who is technically capable but who doesn’t seem to like our patients. She says the minimum to them and has a rough style that can be off-putting. Even the rest of the team avoid her. I’ve given her feedback that she needs to be nicer and she’ll be better for a few days and then she returns to looking annoyed and surly. Is there anything I can do to change her attitude?

T.S. Indiana

Dear T.S.

Attitude and personality are really difficult things to change about someone. And because attitude is subjective, it’s tricky to give feedback about. (She might see herself as quiet instead of surly.) What you can do is give her feedback about how you interpret her behavior and specific directions on the behavior you want to see. For example, you can provide a checklist of questions you want her to ask patients. You can teach her how to modulate her communication style. Your focus would be on changing specific actions because you are probably not going to change her personality.

But ultimately, if she doesn’t represent your philosophy, then this person may not fit in your practice or at least a fit in a position where she interacts with patients. One dentist I work with moved a DA with a challenging personality into an insurance verification role. This solved his issue!

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Inspired Us to Dream Bigger, and it Works

“As an Office Manager, I’ve seen a great difference in my practice since starting with Sharyn. Three years ago our staff was in turmoil with a lot of infighting and gossip and some jealousy directed towards me.

I had given up because everything I did was judged. Now I have learned to have more one-to-one communication and by being more vulnerable with individuals I found my leadership voice. As a team, we’re all focused on the same goals.

Last year, in August we produced $88,000. This year we’re on track to produce $111,000 this month. I know it’s because we learned how to follow through with patients and communicate our expectations while building our systems.

Sharyn has gotten us out of our comfort zone and inspired us to dream bigger and it works.”

–Sharon St Pierre, Sperbeck Dental Care

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