Monday, February 18, 2019



One of my hobbies is collecting quotations, proverbs, slogans, maxims, adages, and the like. Even bumper stickers catch my eye. I find that snippets of wisdom and humor abound in these brief phrases. Many dental teams use short quotations to open or close their daily huddle and/or monthly team meeting. So I'd like to share some of my favorites with you:
Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
St. Francis of Assisi

Teamwork divides the task and doubles the success.

People are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.
Abraham Lincoln

I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.

When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.
Abraham Maslow

Attitude determines how well you do it.
Lou Holtz

Another flaw in the human character is that everyone wants to build, and nobody wants to do maintenance.
Kurt Vonnegut

The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it.

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Irish Benediction

And be sure to check out our Free Resources for Your Practice for additional insights, information, and practice management tips.

Monday, February 11, 2019



Listening is a skill, and very different from just hearing. In other words, one can hear spoken words, yet have very little idea of the meaning of those words, unless listening also occurs. Applying this concept to the dental office, we can project the importance of listening—listening to patients, to co-workers, to the dentist. Misunderstandings, incorrectly recorded chart notes, confusion over payment procedures, hurt feelings between dental teammates, scheduling errors, and on and on, can be attributed to poor listening skills, whether on the part of the dentist or the staff.

Suggestion: Use the following exercise during a team meeting to open discussion and improve listening skills for the entire team.
Grade your listening skills by scoring 1 (low) to 5 (high) on the 20 listening habits listed below. Record the grade, 1 through 5, to the left of the statement, and total your score when complete. 
____   I like to listen to other people.
____   I try to get others to express their views or opinions.
____   I listen equally well to family, friends, acquaintances, strangers.
____   I listen equally well to male or female; to people of all ages.
____   I try to make the person to whom I am listening feel important.
____   I concentrate on the message by putting aside all other activities.
____   My body language, good eye contact, leaning forward, nodding, gesturing and such, shows my interest and encourages the speaker to continue.
____   I ignore distractions which might interrupt my listening.
____   I never interrupt to express my own ideas.
____   I interrupt to ask for clarification of words I do not understand.
____   I listen to grasp ideas rather than every specific detail of what is being said.
____   I occasionally take notes so I will remember the message correctly.
____   I mentally summarize what is being said.
____   I concentrate on what is valid in the message rather than trying to find an error or point of disagreement while the person is speaking.
____   I listen between the lines to the speaker’s body language, gestures and tone of voice that add meaning to the message.
____   If the speaker hesitates, I encourage him or her to continue.
____   I show respect for a speaker’s opinion, even though I may disagree.
____   I withhold judgment about the content of the message until the speaker is finished.
____   I realize my emotions may filter the message so I hear it incorrectly; therefore, I am determined to listen objectively.
____   I restate what I heard in simple phrases and ask the speaker if my interpretation is correct.

____   Total
90 – 100   You are an excellent listener
80 –   89   You are a good listener
70 –   79   You listen occasionally
60 –   69   You need to work on your listening skills

And be sure to check out our Free Resources for Your Practice for additional insights, information, and practice management tips.

Monday, February 4, 2019



Identity theft continues to stay at the top of the list of cybercrimes. Using stolen or fabricated personal information, criminals thrive on online credit card fraud, either by obtaining new credit cards using your stolen personal data or by making purchases on an existing account that has been hacked. And just below identity theft on the list of cybercrimes is income tax refund theft, accomplished by filing a bogus return using personal data obtained illegally, as well as efforts to raid bank accounts using stolen information.

Several cybercrime experts suggest that anyone who is active online should consider that his or her personal information has been compromised and is available for sale to criminals. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

What is a credit freeze? Implemented through the three major credit reporting agencies listed below, you can lock (freeze) your credit reports so none can be obtained or changed for any reason, even by you, as long as the freeze is in place. The consumer is given a PIN (Personal Identification Number) that allows control of the freezing and thawing of credit information.

A new federal law effective in September 2018 allows people to lock/freeze their credit free of cost. Requests made by telephone or online to freeze credit information must be addressed within one day of receipt. Requests made by mail must be fulfilled within three days of receipt by the credit reporting agency. The law further stipulates that a thaw or lifting of the freeze must be completed within an hour if received online or by phone, and within three days if the request is mailed.

Information about the freezing process can be found at these websites, and is also available by telephone:
Equifax: or 800-349-9960
Experian: or 888-397-3742
TransUnion: or 888-909-8872

And be sure to check out our Free Resources for Your Practice for additional insights, information, and practice management tips.

Monday, January 28, 2019



The most successful dental practices with whom I've worked as a consultant are those that emphasize professional growth and development of team members from the first day of employment. The dentist assumes the role of team coach, tutor, and mentor, and his or her interest in team and individual development never wanes.

The following is a template for evaluating an individual team member's current skill level, identifying skills that need improvement, and developing ways the coach/dentist or senior assistant can help. This form, particularly helpful during the first 12 to 18 months of employment, can be an essential tool in a team member development program.

The first section of the form contains questions to be answered by the team member and submitted to the dentist several days before the one-on-one discussion. The dentist should carefully complete the second section so that this input is valued by the team member and regarded as an opportunity for professional growth. The third section confirms that the team member understands his or her commitment to improvement on the job, as well as an understanding that this represents an opportunity for enhancing work skills, and that follow-up will occur.

Please answer:
  • What two or three things cause you to feel pride in your work?

  • What are two or three goals you would like to undertake or to develop further?

  • What are the challenges and problems that you now face in your work?

  • What can I do to help you handle, change, or eliminate these?
  • What would help you feel more successful in your work?
Coach's comments:
  • Your most outstanding skills and accomplishments in your work are:

  • Additionally, I would like to see you focus on improvement or development of these areas:

  • I will help you with:

  • We will meet again in ________ months to evaluate your progress.

Team member's signature


Coach's signature




And be sure to check out our Free Resources for Your Practice for additional insights, information, and practice management tips.

Monday, January 21, 2019



As I was scanning one of the numerous articles, essays, pamphlets, and books on my monthly reading menu, the words, "The Pain We’ve Known" caught my eye, and my imagination. In this short essay, author John Greco related a story from his childhood that illustrates how many of us handle, or fail to handle, stressful factors in our lives. Greco writes:
As a child, I hated going to the dentist. But it wasn't just the normal discomfort that I feared. You see, our dentist didn't use any numbing agent to reduce the pain when he had to drill a hole in my tooth for a filling.
He had been our family dentist for years, so his way of doing things was all that I knew. I had heard people complain about going to the dentist, and I figured this was why: trips to the dentist brought skull-rattling pain. I would just close my eyes and do my best not to cry or jump out of my seat. I didn't realize things could be different.
Then one day, I was lamenting an upcoming dental appointment to a friend, and she told me her least favorite part was having her cheek numb for the rest of the day. "Numb?" I asked, my eyes wide with curiosity. And then she told me about Novocaine, which was breaking news to me.
The following afternoon, as I reclined in the dentist's chair, I uttered, "I'd like some Novocain, if that's okay."
"Sure it is. But why?" he asked. "You've always had such a remarkable tolerance for pain that I didn't think you needed it."
Too many of us live as if the pain we've known is all there will ever be.
Now focus on your practice, on your office. Is there a stressful situation that you've refused to address? If so, consider solving the problem and thereby eliminating your distress in 2019. In fact, the sooner, the better. Seek professional advice or counseling if it is a personnel issue or a technological problem outside your area of expertise. An outside expert with experience and a fresh perspective can often solve issues that have vexed us for years.

Please don't delay. Procrastination never solved a problem or eliminated a source of distress. Commit to handling the stressor, whatever it takes. Make it happen. Then enjoy the peace of mind that follows.

And be sure to check out our Free Resources for Your Practice for additional insights, information, and practice management tips.