Culture can be defined as a shared set of patterns of thinking…a set of shared assumptions and propositions that a group of people carry around in their minds. Hence, culture is the lens through which we see and interpret what is happening around us. So, every time we meet a new person in our practice, our practice culture is mediating our experience and influencing our conclusions.
But what if our culture is flawed? What if we inherited a culture- a belief system and set of thought structures- which are outdated, or just plain wrong? What if we never take the time to question our belief system? What if we never assume our culture could be flawed?
Then our brain literally gets lost because it doesn’t have enough reliable guideposts to render out accurate conclusions. And we start to function out of assumptions which can easily become our dogma.
When our dogma becomes our culture, we become stuck and struggle to come up with creative solutions. We assume the game is lost…that others don’t care…that this is the best we can do…that true person-centered dentistry has no future as Smile Direct Club comes into town and offers digital scans for free.
Albert Einstein said, “Most teachers waste their time by asking questions that are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning is to discover what the pupil does know or is capable of knowing.”
Does your culture honor the truth that most people are the best experts about themselves? Does it leverage their ability to make choices when empowered, which are in their best interest? Or does your practice culture assume that you are the expert, and therefore others need to listen and follow your every direction?
If you want to see patients constantly make better decisions, then you need to help them with that. But it will rarely happen if everything is about you(r) agendas without understanding other people’s agendas first.
Paul A. Henny, DDS
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