Never Let ’em See You Sweat

Do you remember those deodorant commercials in the 70s and 80s? I think it was Right Guard that coined the term “Never Let ’em See You Sweat”. Well, I’ve been faced with a couple situations recently that had me depending on my Right Guard to get me through.

The concept of those old commercials was to keep your cool when under pressure. Never let your colleagues or clients see you sweat under stressful situations.  It happens to us ALL and it’s a lesson in mastering our emotions, to say the least.

I mentioned last week that I recently spoke to about 300 hygienists at the Utah Dental Hygiene Association meeting.  I have to tell you, we had some technology gremlins trying to take us down.

Before my talk even started, I realized that my brand new laptop was not going to work with the projector.  I had to use a loaner and my jump drive.  That meant all the cool web links and video I’d implanted in my power point program wouldn’t work.  Then, right in the middle of my presentation, the entire ballroom went black.  The power went out completely for what seemed like an eternity (it was probably 2 minutes max).  While I was sweating on the inside, the reality was that the audience never missed those web links or knew that we had to change computers because the content remained the same and we just kept on trucking.

Whether you’re speaking to 1 or 100, these hiccups happen to us all from time to time and they happen in your clinical practice too. Just the other day, I experienced a situation where an innocent error was made in scheduling a patient’s hygiene appointment.  The patient arrived at a time different than what was on the schedule.  Needless to say, it turned into a ‘learning experience’ for everyone, me included.  See, this was the perfect opportunity to shine in the face of a challenge so the patient never knew of the error OR fall into all the reasons why it had happened and allow the patient to get caught up in the stress of the situation.

Managing these situations may make us sweat but the beauty is that our patients never need to know it!  Here are few situations and how to handle them with grace.

Patient shows up late– Greet them with concern and relief that they are ok. You control the course of the appointment (and your day) by saying “I’m so glad you made it. Of course we’ll see you and we’ll do as much as we can in the time left in your appointment”. Whether it’s 45 minutes or 15, we can accomplish something.

Patient shows up at the wrong time– Cheerfully great them and, before telling them THEY messed up, explore all opportunities to care for them now. Then you can say “We’ll be happy to take care of you in just a few minutes”.  This is an opportunity for the entire team to step up and be massively flexible! Then take a moment to determine what happened and how you can prevent the problem in the future.

The computers go down in the middle of charting -rather than saying “Darn, my computer just died. We’ve been begging doctor to get new computers but the economy is just killing us”(ugh!), just pull out a piece of paper and keep on going. You can always add the data to the computer chart later and the patient will never know the difference.

Take a “Never Let ’em See You Sweat” approach and you’ll nurture patients that have ultimate confidence in you. And we all know how great that feels…

Disclaimer- I know a few of you will email me so just know that I’m not talking about habitually inconsiderate patients. That’s another article for another day.  🙂

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