What is the nature of your relationships?

Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley

What is the nature of your relationships?

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Seth Godin is a brilliant thinker. In a recent blog post he told the following story entitled, “But he paid extra”:

We come up lots of reasons to work with jerks.

We take an investment from a jerk investor instead of a kind one.

We accept a job from a bully instead of someone who will nurture and challenge us with worthwhile work.

And we take on a customer who denigrates our team and our work instead of embracing the good ones…

The most common reason is that they pay us more. A better valuation, a better hourly rate.

That’s not a good enough reason. We pay for it many more times than we get paid for it.


Do you often find yourself in similar situations in your practice, except you are being paid LESS than you desire and deserve? You are working with people who are incapable for one reason or another of “paying you a fair fee with gratitude,” as Dr. Pankey used to say?

When we are in situations like this, commonly we are also in the middle of a dysfunctional dependency relationship, where expectations are not clear, communication poor, and assumptions abound – and lots of wrong ones at that.

And when assumptions are proven wrong, particularly when they involve money and low value for what is being paid for, confrontations arise. These may be aggressive, or passive aggressive -in your face or quietly simmering in the background.

When we fail to take charge of the relationships we have with our patients, they always go into some form of default mode based on assumptions. And that is a bad place to be.

But if we take control of a relationship by inviting a person into a collaborative one, one where understandings are more clear, communication channels are open, and responsibilities shared – amazing things happen.

Because two minds are better than one. And two people pulling in the same direction go farther. And two people who accomplish a lot together build lifelong bonds and deep mutual respect.

We should never consciously put ourselves in a situation like the one Seth describes. Nor should we do something even worse, work hard for someone who is resentful, or disrespectful.

Don’t do it. Show some leadership and strategically manage your relationships on a higher and more emotionally intelligent level.

You are the boss. Own it and stop complaining about the behavior of others that you allow to be close. Money isn’t the pathway to happiness, but a lack of it in combination with disrespect is hell – particularly in dentistry.

Paul A. Henny, DDS

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