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Patients Don’t Want to Wear Masks


Dear Sharyn

Our state has strict mask guidelines which we follow. We ask our patients to wear their masks when they are not in the treatment room. The problem is that some of our patients get ornery about this and question why we do this. This has caused problems.

W.G, California

Dear W.G.,

When I was a graduate student at Ohio State and working off my tuition as a residence hall director for 700 freshmen, we had a technique to communicate with drunk students. This technique was called the Broken Record method. (These days, no one would know what a broken record is, but that’s another sad story.) Freshmen weren’t old enough to legally drink, so if we found a student with alcohol, they were directed to spill it out. Did a drunk student WANT to dump their drink? Nope. Did they argue with you about the logic of it? Yup. Does it make sense to argue with a drunk person and give them the logic of why they needed to do something they did not want to do? Nope!

So, when dealing with your recalcitrant patients, don’t shower them with logic, don’t apologize and don’t explain. Be a broken record. “Yup, I get it, it is annoying to put on the mask but that is what we need you to do.” “Yup, you need to put on your mask.”  “Yup, we really need you to put on your mask.” “Yes, you need to put on your mask right now.” Be a really annoying broken record, saying the same thing over and over until the patient complies. Irritating people into compliance isn’t the sexiest motivational technique I’ve taught, but it works.

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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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