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Limiting Drama in Your Dental Practice

Dental coach Holly Mitchell tells us that whenever people with different personalities work together, there will always be some tension. If a dental practice or DSO is growing fast, tension can easily erupt into what we call “drama.”

“The first step is understanding where the drama is coming from,” says Mitchell. At the root is the desire for people to feel significant. They want to feel respected, heard and appreciated. “So, it’s really up to the leader to establish that ear for them, that respect and that safety.”

The Drama Triangle

Mitchell tells us about the drama triangle defined by psychologist Dr. Stephen Karpman. In this triangle, there are three roles. There’s a victim, a persecutor, and a rescuer. You can't have a drama triangle without those three roles. Usually the victim will come to the leader with a problem. As the leader, you want to jump in and rescue the victim. If you do that every day for many years, burnout and resentment grow.

Exiting the Triangle

“There is a cure,” says Mitchell. “The rescuer needs to become a coach. So, when someone comes to you with a problem, you coach them to find the solution for themselves. It’s really up to the leader to not be emotionally reactive to whatever's going on, because if you're reactionary as a leader, what do you think happens with the team?” 

If someone comes to you as the leader and says he or she has a problem, the first step is to ask, “Did you talk to that person yet?” The next step is to coach them through how to have the conversation. After the conversation, if they're still having the issue, allow them to come back to you. When you do that, you are giving yourself breathing room to get some objectivity. You are stepping outside the problem instead of getting sucked in.

The Toughest Situation

The toughest situation may be when an employee says, “I can't work with this person at all.” You might have to make a hard decision. You might be able to coach the conflicting parties through the problem.

Mitchell advises responding to the employee with: “That puts me in a really tough situation to have to choose between the two of you. Do you think there might be another way to solve this problem?”  

Like a Sports Team

Mitchell suggests we look at the dental team like a sports team. Everyone on that team was hired for a reason. Each brings a certain skill set. Understanding the strengths of each other helps garner respect for and among all team members. 

“Some things are changeable. Some things we have to live with, and it's a trade off. We have to learn to accept each other. As long as we give each team member their due importance and make them feel that they're part of the team and equally important," says Mitchell, "their insecurities are taken care of." 

About this Industry Leader:

Holly Mitchell - Profile Pic

Holly Mitchell

Leadership Coach, LeadWell Network

After beginning her career in dentistry as an unpaid intern, Holly Mitchell worked her way up to become a nationally-recognized practice manager, consultant, and public speaker in the dental field. She propelled her own dental practice, Central Park West Dentistry, to Inc. 5000's list of America's Fastest Growing Companies for five years in a row. As a repeat guest lecturer at NYU's College of Dentistry, her presentations have been described as "entertaining, informative, memorable," and "the best." Her enthusiasm for strategic entrepreneurialism inspires her team and consulting clients to confront what's not working and embrace the leader within. Holly's mission is to create sustainable growth by leveraging, engaging, and inspiring her team and coaching clients to drive profitability and promote a higher quality of life both in and outside of the office.

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