This one thing transformed my working relationships


When I owned my practice I knew something for sure: that it was in my interests (and therefore the business’ interests) to be welcoming of all needs and comments from staff. Whether it was surgery staff needing something, hearing a concern about another team member or someone’s request for holiday leave. In order to manage all situations well I needed to know about it sooner rather than not. I could only fix something if I knew about it. I could only help everyone if they asked for it.

Many times we are busy – we feel too busy – to be interrupted by others’ requests for our time and energy. And let’s face it, dental surgeries are very busy places with surgery staff struggling to find moments to pass on feedback. However, just because you listen to the comment doesn’t mean you have to act on it immediately. If it is something that the team member needs in order to carry on with their work, then act on it straight away. If not, action it later.

The important thing for me was to hear about it. And I knew that for staff to be comfortable in coming to me for anything and everything, it was up to me to provide that environment for them. If I made the staff bear any ‘cost’ in coming to me- such as me indicating they were interrupting me – they would simply stop. So to indicate to them through my behaviour that they could come to me for anything at any time, I SMILED.

My first response to anyone was to instantly look them in the eye and give them a big, genuine smile. This helped staff to relax about choosing the ‘right’ moment (when is that?) and I know it facilitated many important discussions that would not have otherwise occurred.

My ‘instant smile’ also had another wonderful effect. It transformed my working relationships. When you smile at someone you are telling them you are open, judgement-free, welcoming and friendly. I became a better communicator because every interaction started off on the right foot. If the discussion was a sensitive one, the other person was less likely to put their guard up because they knew I extending good will to them.

The benefits of my ‘instant smile’ were so immediate and obvious that it quickly became part of my character.

I encourage you to adopt this reaction when someone asks something of you. Give it a try and see for yourself how easy it is to transform your working relationships.