S2 E3: Difficult conversations

When communication feels awkward with patients or team members, try these strategies for creating clarity and understanding.

S2 EP3: Managing Your Most Awkward Moments in the Dental office episode image

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Episode notes

Managing difficult conversations in and out of the dental office

In this episode, we’ll guide you through strategies to manage sticky communication situations in the dental office. We’ll explore practical strategies and ways to improve communication skills to achieve a positive outcome for all involved. Our guest is Tiffany Olson, a speech communication expert featured in a popular communications webinar from the ADA Accelerator series.

Olson tells us: “You need to be precise with your language, because if you're not, then the other person will be left to fill in the blanks and draw their own conclusion. Which isn't necessarily what we meant for them to draw. So that's why we have to be really precise with what we say. ”

A photograph of Tiffany Olson
Tiffany Olson 

Show Notes

  • Olson says effective communication is when the speaker's message is received by the listener in the way that the speaker intended.
  • Dentists need to be able to communicate effectively with their patients, their staff, and their colleagues and Olson says there are ways to practice effective communication skills.
  • First, being aware of your own communication style is important, according to Olson. She says that everyone has their own unique communication style, and it is important to be aware of your own style so that you can adjust it to communicate effectively with others.
  • Being mindful of your listener's perspective is also essential to effective communication. Olson says that it is important to try to see things from the other person's point of view, and to adjust your communication accordingly.
  • To enhance communication and avoid hurting feelings or creating more conflict with the person receiving the message, Olson says you should use clear and concise language so the other person understands what you mean.
  • Being open to feedback is essential if you want to sharpen your skills as a communicator and so is practicing effective communication skills.
  • Dr. Rico Short, a dentist and listener of the show, shares a story about being verbally attacked by a patient who wanted a root canal but didn’t want x-rays. He shares how he handled communication with the patient and the staff to better recover from the event.
  • Olson offers three strategies dentists can use to better communicate with your dental team:
    • Let them know that you care. This means showing them that you are interested in their well-being and that you appreciate their work. You can do this by taking the time to get to know them, providing them with opportunities for professional development, and recognizing their accomplishments.
    • Listen to understand. When your team members are speaking, really listen to what they are saying. Don't just wait for your turn to talk. Try to see things from their perspective and understand their point of view.
    • Address difficult conversations head-on. Don't avoid difficult conversations. Instead, face them head-on in a respectful and constructive way. By addressing these issues early on, you can prevent them from festering and causing problems down the road.


View episode transcript

Ioannidou [00:00:00] Hey, we need to talk. Most people dread hearing these words, right? Hello, everybody. I'm Dr. Effie Ioannidou.

Wright [00:00:08] And I'm Dr. Wright. And this is Dental Sound Bites. This episode is all about having difficult conversations.

Announcer [00:00:17] From the American Dental Association. This is Dental Sound Bites, created for dentists by dentists. Ready? Let's dive right into real talk on dentistry. Daily wins and sticky situations.

Ioannidou [00:00:33] So in our last episode, we really talk about sticky situations that we experience in our practices. Today we thought that we can bring an expert to talk about how we can communicate more effectively dealing with these difficult, sticky situations. So please welcome Tiffany Olson.

Wright [00:00:52] Welcome, welcome, Tiffany. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Olson [00:00:55] Sure. First of all, thank you for having me. I'd like to say that I'm a lifelong student of communication. I got my start in elementary school. I talked too much during English class. And Mrs. Hawkins, who was the English teacher and the speech team coach, recruited me because she's like, "Well, let's put this gift of gab to good use." So I joined the speech team and stuck with it all through junior high and high school and went to college and competed at the national level for the Illinois State Speech Team and got a master's degree in communication and have been teaching for the last 25 years, both in the college classroom and then more recently, the last ten years, I focused on corporate and organizational clients going into companies and organizations and leading communication centered workshops, things like how to effectively give a public address or how to listen effectively, how to have tough conversations successfully, which is obviously what we're going to be talking about today. And all of the workshops are tailored to that client and that industry. So that's me.

Ioannidou [00:02:07] That's great.

Wright [00:02:08] So just kind of kickstart our episode. Can you just tell us why it's so important for us to communicate effectively? Like, and maybe even start by defining what effective communication is.

Olson [00:02:21] So effective communication is when the thought in your head as the speaker, the thought that's in your head comes out of your mouth in the way that you intended and then is received by the other person and processed by them in the way that you, the speaker, intended it to be received. That's what effective communication is.

Wright [00:02:44] That's a lot of things to control. That's a lot.

Ioannidou [00:02:47] This is so complicated.

Wright [00:02:50] This is so complicated.

Ioannidou [00:02:51] Because we can control, say, that we become experts in communicating what we have in our mind. Right. Which many, many times I always tell my kids, I cannot read your mind. You have to use your words. Explain to me the cause. So this we can control. Sure. But how can we control the perception?

Olson [00:03:09] From the other person.

Ioannidou [00:03:10] That's tough?

Olson [00:03:11] And we don't have control because there are some people that we will talk to and they're no matter how thoughtful we were, no matter how precise we were with our language, they are not going to receive it in the way that we intended. But what you need to do is be aware of that is what it takes to be an effective communicator. And so you do the best that you can, be thoughtful, language is arbitrary and ambiguous.

Wright [00:03:39] Ooo-wee! That's so good. Oh, my gosh. I eat all this stuff up.

Olson [00:03:43] That's what I am, that's how I am. I love I'm fascinated by all of this.

Wright [00:03:47] Me, too.

Olson [00:03:48] So language is arbitrary and ambiguous, which means that your definition for, like, let's say I tell you "how was your day today? Oh, it was good. Good." Well, my definition of good means this. And Dr. Wright's definition of good means this. And so we all have different definitions of what good mean. Right? And so you need to be precise with your language, because if you're not, then the other person will be left to fill in the blanks and draw their own conclusion. Yeah, which isn't necessarily what we meant for them to draw. So that's why we have to be really precise with what we say.

Ioannidou [00:04:25] So what I hear, what you're saying is that we have to be precise because we cannot leave our statements to interpretation.

Olson [00:04:34] Right? Right.

Wright [00:04:35] Absolutely. Yeah. My problem is I want to be in control of like, the narrative. So that control piece, go figure, I'm a dentist. But I want to be in control of, like, how I'm perceived. But I will say the more that I practice and the further I get in my career, I do take steps back and I realize that I can't necessarily control that. I can only control myself, my body language, how I, you know, the statements that I use, how the tone that it comes across and on the listener's ears, like I can't control that so much. I will say that's been a source of contention for me in practice with like if I have like a conflict with a team member or a patient, if there some level of misunderstanding, sometimes I want to go overboard and overcommunicate, and that sometimes is to our demise.

Olson [00:05:23] Absolutely. This is a personal example, but I just went prom dress shopping with my 17 year old the other day and we do not have similar taste, in anything, clothing specifically in this situation, and she tried two dresses on one of them, I loved the other one. I didn't love as much, but I didn't want to tell her about it, about the one that I loved, because I knew that if I told her I loved it, she might want to do the opposite thing because I'm the uncool mom. And so she doesn't want to pick the one that I pick.

Ioannidou [00:05:57] Classic.

Olson [00:05:58] It's so complicated because I'm trying to I'm being very thoughtful in how I'm communicating. And yet to her, I wasn't being effusive enough with my praise of how she looked in the dress, but I was doing it for for what I thought was the right reason. And, you know, so we we can be really thoughtful. We can have the best of intentions. And still, that was ineffective communication, because what I meant did not get received in process the same way I meant for it to.

Ioannidou [00:06:30] You know, sometimes I wonder the strategies that we use in our with our teenagers, you know, they may be applicable in our professional life. Frequently as parents, we say, pick your battles. Right? You know, we don't need to argue with the kids every day, all day we could. Yeah. But we choose not to. I wonder if this isn't a strategy that might be useful in a professional setting.

Olson [00:06:58] Oh, absolutely. I'm just thinking of staff, let's say, other people have ways of doing things that may work well for them. And just because it's different than our approach doesn't mean that it's wrong. It it's just it's different. And so.

Wright [00:07:11] Certainly.

Olson [00:07:11] I know that I'm not good at letting things go. I want to correct everything. I'm not good at letting some things go and picking my battles. And that is I absolutely think there's validity to that. And you are able to conserve your energy, too, if you're not picking every battle.

Wright [00:07:31] So you mentioned a few things that I would love for us to talk about. You said emotional intelligence. You talked about awareness. Can we just talk about a whole bunch of those things? Because I feel like a lot of our doctors out there, we may be operating in those same spaces. Maybe we're not as emotionally intelligent, although it's a common buzz word. Maybe a lot of people may not know what that is and that awareness piece and being experienced. Can you look like, Let's go there? Can we?

Olson [00:07:59] Yeah, I think emotional intelligence is so necessary because people are complicated and our reasons for saying some of the things that we say are complicated. Maybe somebody else was feeling insecure, in our own insecurities we will lash out or we will say things. And yeah, I think that having the emotional intelligence to think in that situation, why would the other person have said this? What was the meaning behind this and reading nonverbals? And so they seemed offended by that thing that I said that seemed to to throw them off a little bit. So checking in with people, that's a huge thing that we need to do more of is checking in. When I said that you did this thing with your face, what what can you tell me about that? What did that mean? Were you confused or did I say something that offended you? Checking in with the people that you're talking to, to make sure you understand so that you can clarify in case you misunderstood.

Ioannidou [00:09:01] Tiffany, if you do this, could people perceive this as confrontational? Like if you turn to someone and say, you know, I noticed that you did this, I just want to make sure that I understand correctly what I was not misunderstood. So do you think that people can immediately become defensive and like, instead of the conditions, you make them even worse?

Olson [00:09:20] Yeah, absolutely. I think that people can. And so that's the reason that we need to monitor our delivery. "Yeah, please know, I don't mean anything by this comment, but I just want to check in with you because your your face seemed to indicate, you know, and I've got a smile on my face as I'm saying it, and I'm, you know, I'm making sure" with these we call these minimal encourager, these hand gestures that we do in these these things that we do nonverbally to display meaning. And so " I'm I'm sorry, I, I didn't mean to imply anything, but I just wanted to check in with you and make sure that. Did you understand when I said that I was not trying to be fill in the blank, disrespectful, blah blah, blah. Yeah. I just want to make sure that that you understood that." Your tone and you can say the same words in different ways and, you know, tone.

Ioannidou [00:10:12] 100%.

Wright [00:10:13] Makes all the difference. Right?

Olson [00:10:14] And sometimes it will be misinterpreted. Yeah.

Wright [00:10:17] You know, I am the queen of like I said, I believe in breathing. Taking that pause. Right. I sit back and I wait. I do believe that, like, whenever you're in a difficult conversation, whoever speaks first kind of loses. So what I do with my patients and this happens to me quite often, patients come in, they pretty much already know what they think is the right treatment or the right course of action for them. But I'm the person, I think very big picture, I think and begin and end with the end in mind. And sometimes that does not go over very well with my patients. So I always pause and I say, "Okay, what questions do you have for me?" And I think this is one of my strategies instead of being like, do you have any questions? Or okay, is that that's everything And, you know, I'm out of the room. I always say, all right, what questions do you have for me? And I will sometimes be there until they have no other questions. Because again, this is me trying to be in control of the situation. And I'm like, I want I don't ever want them to feel abandoned because I feel like when you don't communicate, patients can feel abandoned. Sometimes I don't have all of the right words in that moment, but I still want to give them space to share because I don't know, you know, people, they don't really share everything right up front. Sometimes I feel like our patients play games with us and they like, want to see what you're going to say first before they share, you know, the true situation. So like, how do we navigate some of those things? Or I don't know if I just gave my own strategy to myself, but that's definitely one of my strategies. What are your thoughts about that?

Olson [00:11:54] Yeah, I think that's good. Just even in the phrasing of the question, "What questions do you have for me?" As opposed to "Do you have any questions?" Because you're right, a lot of times, "Oh no, I don't have any." And then we think about it. So even giving a pause, that's something that I teach people all the time is the pause, the pause is so important because I know when I was a first year teacher in graduate school, I you know, it was only a couple of years older than my students. And I just was not comfortable in front of the classroom yet. And so you're there and I would end the class with does anyone have any questions? But I didn't feel comfortable in that silence. And so I would give a nanosecond and then I would say, "Okay, great seeing, you know, see you on Friday and all right."

Wright [00:12:40] Bye bye.

Olson [00:12:42] And so sometimes it's just sitting in that pause and letting the person think through. "I don't know, what if I do have a quick oh, I do have a question. And just letting them sit in that pause for a second, That's really good, because sometimes it's not on the tip of our tongue. And I think that, you know, going to the dentist is complicated for a lot of people. There's fear involved. There's just different feelings involved. And so sometimes that stunts us, stunts our brain from working quickly and saying what it is that we want to say when we want to say it.

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Ioannidou [00:13:56] It's funny because I love the fact that you touched upon clinical dentistry and academic dentistry, both like a very uncomfortable silence in the auditorium as a teacher especially, you know. And I think it has to do also what I find difficult is if you are in the extroverted personality trait, this at the pause is a very hard thing to zip it and listen first of all. So it's it's it's a sign of growth. I get I mean, I used to speak endlessly at the very beginning of my career. Now I speak a little bit less, although many people don't feel the difference. But then and it's so hard to just be a listener and try to take a moment, pause and allow the room to react to what you announce or just said many times. For extroverts, people, this might be a problem. And on the other side that I am sure that there are different stresses and different defense mechanism for the introverts in their own right in terms of communicating. So I find that this is also how can you speak about this a little bit, because I know in academics, you know, it's it's always a small meetings and conference rooms of like eight to maximum ten people and those close communications that are more than one patient. Right. But those close communications can be tricky frequently.

Olson [00:15:20] Yeah. I like what you said about the introverts and extroverts. I don't know if you've read the book "Quiet" by Susan Cain. And it's all about introverts and extroverts and the difference in communication styles. Introverts tend to take longer to process and they're less. I'm an extrovert, and so my thoughts, the thought pops into my head. It is out of my mouth before I've edited it.

Wright [00:15:41] I can be like that.

Olson [00:15:42] And sometimes then I'm like, Oh, right, I shouldn't have said that yet. Okay. And also the listening part, the key to listening is to listen for clarity. To listen, to understand, not to listen, to respond.

Ioannidou [00:15:58] Yes, That's so good.

Wright [00:16:00] So hard.

Olson [00:16:01] And that's what we do so much of, right? Yeah. Yeah. We listen in and someone's talking. And the only way I know of to combat that is to just keep telling yourself, like, "Nope, bring it back. No, bring it back. Stay focused on them. Yeah. Not about stay focused." And just keep drawing yourself back because your time will come to reply. But right now we're just focused on this person and what they're saying and understanding what they're saying.

Ioannidou [00:16:28] Oh, that's so good.

Wright [00:16:29] That was really, really good. I will say this in any other setting other than now. So I violated this rule already today because I've interjected several times, but that's only because I'm super duper excited when I'm in the office or like if I'm face to face with someone and I'm having a conversation, I forget where I heard it from. But they say just kind of like, take your hand and put it over your mouth. And that kind of keeps you from like when you're tempted to jump in and interrupt or, you know, kind of just say something and respond quickly. I just take my hand and I just kind of like put it in front of my mouth. And it is almost as if I'm thinking, which I am, but I'm thinking harder not about what I'm going to say, but about not interrupting and jumping in to to just respond super quickly. Right? So that's the strategy to for all our listeners out there. Yeah.

Ioannidou [00:17:14] I'll share with you a Greek wisdom. We always have a Greek wisdom to share. I'm sure we should make this, you know.

Wright [00:17:20] In an episode.

Ioannidou [00:17:21] Yeah, yeah. The classic anecdote in our podcast. So my grandfather in Greece back in, you know, he was born in 1920. So you can understand there that he's not alive with us anymore. But but he used to say, before you speak, dip your tongue in your brain.

Wright [00:17:39] And dip your tongue in your brain.

Ioannidou [00:17:42] He used to say this for me when I was like little young, you know, elementary, high school student. But, you know, I it was something that really, really helped me in life. Do I do it very frequently? I started to, it took me 50 years, but now I know how to do it, I think. Yeah, but you're absolutely right. You're absolutely right. And I completely agree with what you said about the deep listening.

Wright [00:18:04] Yeah, well, let's take a moment and listen to a story from a colleague who was in a difficult situation. And we're going to hear how he handled it. And I think that we can develop some conversation around this situation. How about that, guys? Sure. Let's do it.

Short [00:18:18] My name is Dr. Rico Short, so I remember having a lady coming off. She said she needed a root canal, but she didn't want to take any x ray. She said, "Hey, Dr. Short, I need a root canal. I don't take any x-rays. I know I need it." And I explain her. I said, "Ma'am, you know, without me doing an actual exam and x-rays, I can't perform this procedure." And she was like, "Well, I need you to perform it because I have to go out the country tomorrow and I don't want to go out the country and have a toothache." So I explained to her, you know, "Medically, legally, we can't do that. And also we want to make sure that we're giving you the best procedure and making sure we're making sure we're not missing anything." And so she just got upset. She called me all kinds of names. And she started recording me and she just let me leave the office and she's made a big scene. I said, "Ma'am, you are going to have to leave. This is a private practice. And you create disturbance and this and that." And she just kind of went on and on and on and on. And then my front desk and the staff, they started getting really worried about what are we going to do? And I just reassure them to stay calm. It's going to be okay. You know, just don't say anything to the lady and then she will eventually run out of steam and leave. And so she did finally leave. I had to sit down and talk to my staff about sometimes when we're dealing with patients, you don't want to escalate to their level because that can create tension and things like that.

Wright [00:19:39] That was very interesting and this has happened to me before. Dr. Effie, this may have happened to you in practice before, but let's unpack that because I'm sure we can pull a few strategies from that story alone to equip our listeners with.

Olson [00:19:53] Yeah, I think the key is that not all difficult conversations are going to be successful.

Wright [00:19:59] That's good.

Olson [00:20:00] Success is not, "Oh, both of you leave happy and everyone is good." And that that's not success might just mean that the conversation was over. Like in that situation, it seems like the success was the conversation was over. The doctor seemed to handle it really well by debriefing with the staff. There are some people who are not capable of having difficult conversations successfully, and I think sometimes we let ourselves off the hook a little bit by, "Oh, I don't think the conversation's going to go well, so I'm not going to have it."

Wright [00:20:33] Oh, that's a good one.

Olson [00:20:34] And I don't want us to lead with that. But like for this conversation, this particular person, it didn't seem like it was going to go well. I think that the doctor handled it really well because she seemed combative and was did not seem to respect his professional opinion about what needed to happen. And so I think he handled it the best way. And sometimes that's it just is.

Ioannidou [00:20:56] It's amazing how a wise reaction can really affect the whole practice, the whole team dynamic. Right. And builds confidence. You know, if you're the leader in the practice and your team sees you reacting in such a wisdom, I think that it builds to respect. Yes, something really bad can turn into bringing people together.

Olson [00:21:17] Absolutely.

Wright [00:21:18] Yeah. I feel like that was a good example of how to interact with a team. And usually if I'm in a situation with a patient or a patient gives me feedback through a review because I look at my Google reviews as feedback that the patients are leaving me and how I handle it and how I navigate it. I always try to find the lesson in it and if there's actually any truth to it. So I look for the truth in the situation as opposed to although I do not like when I get a bad review, but I realize that I can't control everything and I can't win everyone. But what I can do is take the meat and leave the bones, if that makes sense to everyone. So your opinion, Tiffany, on de-escalation? What are some strategies that we can use and take into practice with us about the de-escalation piece?

Olson [00:22:05] So if you're in a situation where it's just not going well, calling time out, you know, hey, I seem to be getting worked up and I don't like how I'm saying this. Now, let's say before you get to that point, you could even just ask for a redo. I say something in anger. "Oh, you always do that. Sorry, Can I say that again? Because I didn't mean what I said. I just responded in anger. Can I redo that?" Ask for a redo in the moment. People respect that. That's showing humility and vulnerability. Yeah, that. "Okay. I realized I went too far. I'm sorry.".

Wright [00:22:37] I love that.

Olson [00:22:38] And then sometimes it's just a matter of like, if you are too heightened and you can't bring yourself down, then it is a matter of saying, "I think we need to take a time out and come back to this. And maybe it's, you know, maybe we can come back to it in a half hour or something and maybe we need to table it for sleep on it. Maybe we need to table it for a while." And you need to monitor yourself and know, are you getting too worked up or maybe for the other person? "Hey, I can tell that this is really affecting you. Let's let's table this for a little bit and come back to it later because, you know, I don't think we're accomplishing what we want to accomplish right now."

Ioannidou [00:23:14] Mm hmm. How do you think someone becomes more confident in communicating? Is this something that comes naturally with age? Is it something that comes naturally with experience and interaction, or is it something that you really learn out of books? Like how how does this happen?

Olson [00:23:32] Well, women, especially their confidence in communication, increases as their life and their experience increases. So and the older that they get, the more confident that they get and the more experience they have in their careers, the more confident that they get. Some of it, of course, it can be learned in textbooks, but it's more, I think, just interacting with people and practicing those skills that, you know, the good skills. And so maybe that's where the book comes into play, is learning, you know, what are the good skills, what are the right things? Therapists are also really good at that and letting you know how you should approach different situations.

Wright [00:24:11] Oh yeah.

Olson [00:24:12] I see a therapist and I love it because he gives me really practical ways to effectively communicate what I want and to do it in such a way that advances the conversation as opposed to us just continuing to butt heads about the same thing over and over again.

Wright [00:24:28] Oh, that's so good. I love advancing the conversation. One of the things that I was going to say earlier was not matching the energy. If it's a conflicting situation, I find that if I am very intentional about not matching that person's energy, then I feel like we can actually make that forward movement in, you know, we're probably all trying to get to the same thing, but it's just like, who's the person who's willing to just kind of back down a little bit? And so, yeah, it's a skill. I will say it's definitely a learned skill that you have to put in practice. But yes, talk to us.

Olson [00:25:04] Well, and I think you had a good point, Dr. Wright. You said we are all trying to get to the same thing and that's a good thing to work on for, you know, de-escalation or just having these tough conversations is figuring out, hey, what are you want out of this conversation? Like what? What would make you feel satisfied as an endpoint for this conversation? Like identifying what that is so that we know what are we working towards, what is our goal and and we can set our goals before if it's a difficult conversation, hopefully you do some thinking through it ahead of time. So you know, what do you want out of it? What is going to make you feel as though it was a successful conversation. So doing some pre-thinking before you get into the moment and have to respond in the moment.

Wright [00:25:49] Oh, I love that this is helping me out a lot. I don't know about everybody listening, but I'm gaining a lot from this.

Ioannidou [00:25:56] So this is actually a great thing. Like if someone starts a communication session or a meeting or interaction with this mindset, the mindset of, you know, what's the deliverable? Basically what would make both of us, the two parties happy, then probably the communication will be right on the point, right? Is it wouldn't this make everything easier, like easier, wouldn't this make the meeting or the interaction less stressful, I assume?

Olson [00:26:27] Yeah, I would think so. There's a it's called communicating with confidence. It's a curriculum that was put out by Lean In and Jennifer Allen. And they talk in there about when you go into an interaction thinking before you even get there, what is the impression that I want to make on the people in the meeting? What are three characteristics that I want to come across? Like, So what are those are great things for you to think ahead of time about. Oh, you know, I mean, I wish I would have done that today. Like what? You know, how do I want to come across today on this podcast? Do I want to come across knowledgeable? Do I want to come across fun? Do I want to come across and just really thinking through before we're in the situation and we're having to be reactive as opposed to proactive and really having intention behind it.

Ioannidou [00:27:18] Yeah.

Wright [00:27:19] That's good. Oh my gosh. Okay, wait. So before we get too far, can you give us like just three strategies to help us improve communication with our dental teams?

Olson [00:27:29] Yeah, I think number one is there was a quotation by I think it's Teddy Roosevelt, and he said that nobody cares how much you know.

Wright [00:27:36] And till.

Olson [00:27:37] They know how much you care. Yeah. And I love that because I think that's what it is. It's a matter of with your team, letting them know that you care, that we have a common goal, which is patient care or being the best practice, blah, blah, blah. Whatever your goal is, we're all working toward the same thing. And so letting them know that you care. And then I think also it's listening to understand.

Wright [00:28:01] That's a good one.

Olson [00:28:02] So making sure that when you're listening, you want to make sure you understand what the issue is. And with the difficult conversations, don't put off the tough conversations. Let's say that there's some tension in the office and maybe it's not even tension with you in somebody else. Maybe it's tension between other people. Don't put that off because it festers and it it affects everybody that's that's in the practice. And so addressing those issues head on, I think are really important. And one of the things that I do and I can tell that you do this too, is I seek to learn from other people, like who else is doing this really well. Yes. Who is there? Another you know, another practice that, you know, that's just killing it when it comes to morale and unity and and learn from them. What are they doing? How are they doing it so well, that's how I learn all of my stuff is asking other people. What's working for you?

Wright [00:28:57] There we go.

Ioannidou [00:28:57] This is a great point.

Wright [00:28:58] This is so good.

Ioannidou [00:29:00] I want to go back to something that you said and then we can move on. But this really struck me. Frequently in our professional life, a lot of people use it as an excuse, the fact that they don't like confrontation. So.

Wright [00:29:14] Oh, my gosh. Please, let's unpack this. Let's talk about it. Yeah.

Ioannidou [00:29:18] So with this, you are called to adjust your communication depth, if you will. So you don't that's those nodes that are very tricky and risky and they can really pop up and start a confrontation. So how how do you reconcile this on one hand to try to be real and authentic and really approach an issue in its full dimension, but also respect the fact that some personalities are different than others? So, I mean, well, what's your strategy on this?

Olson [00:29:52] So I think, first of all, it's all the way back at the beginning of what do you label it? Because we keep calling it difficult conversations, confrontational. We are calling it these things where it's conflict, conflict, conflict. I can't remember the exact definition, but conflict basically just means failure to be in agreement.

Wright [00:30:11] Mm hmm.

Olson [00:30:12] Failure to be in agreement. That's not scary. Right. And we're not in agreement about what's for dinner tonight. You know, it's like we're not in agreement about. My favorite color is orange. And your favorite color is. So conflict is just failure to be in agreement. And so when we label these things “difficult conversations,” you know, it's a sexy phrase, but it's like it's really just trying to find a way for both of us to be okay with where we are, with what the situation is. And so when we label it conflict, I think that's the main problem is just, hey, we're just having a conversation and a lot of times we build it up to be so much more than it is. And then when we're in this situation, it's like, Oh my God, I was so nervous about that and we figured it out. We did this. Okay. All right.

Wright [00:31:02] I love it so much. You made a statement that basically drew my mind to one of my favorite books that feel like has been life changing. And it's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." And there are several things in your statement when you were going over the three, you know, skills that we should all have to help with our dental teams. And and I begin to think about a few of those habits. I think we're doing it right now, which is sharpening the saw. That's one of the habits in the book, beginning with the end in mind. So you said like kind of thinking ahead of what do you how do you want to be perceived or what do you want to get out of this conversation? And then the other one that I just wrote down just off of memory was seek first to understand and then to be understood. Like, those are all principles that I think that we're talking about right now that goes along with this communication. So I kind of just wanted to say that in the moment that you're kind of right on there.

Olson [00:31:56] I love that.

Announcer [00:31:58] On the next Dental Sound Bites.

Wright [00:32:00] Dentistry can be a very demanding profession, but taking care of your own needs is just as important as taking care of your patients. We're talking tips for stress management, self-care, setting boundaries, and building a supportive community that will help you maintain a healthy work life balance. That's on the next Dental Sound Bites. Oh, well, this has been such a phenomenal episode. I ate it all up. I don't know about you, Dr. Effie. I think you too. Oh, I.

Ioannidou [00:32:30] Love that we learn so much. So happy that we had the chance to talk to Tiffany and dive into so many tricky situations in the practice, in the class, in the professional meetings, in so many different settings. It was great.

Wright [00:32:45] So, Tiffany, can you tell all of our listeners where can they find you?

Olson [00:32:49] You can find me at Tiffany Olson. That's Tiffany Olson.work. That's my website. And we've got all of the different workshops that I offer and I can do them virtually. We can do them in person. And I'm based in Chicago, but I travel all over for work. And so I would love to have the opportunity to work a little more closely.

Wright [00:33:12] Ay!

Wright [00:33:12] Thank you so much for everything.

Olson [00:33:14] I loved being here. Thank you.

Ioannidou [00:33:16] Thank you so much.

Olson [00:33:17] Thank you very much.

Wright [00:33:18] If you like this episode, go ahead and share it with a friend or a colleague.

Ioannidou [00:33:22] Also, don't forget to subscribe to this podcast wherever you are listening so you can get all the latest episodes.

Announcer [00:33:29] Thank you for joining us. Dental Sound Bites is an American Dental Association podcast. You can also find this show Resources and more on the ADA member app and online at Ada Dawgs podcast.