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Become A Peace Addict

Posted Jun 13 2009 12:17am

    Have you ever noticed how much drama there can be in dental offices?  It seems that everyone wants to blame it on the fact that there are so many women working together.  That may have some truth to it, but I think it's really a learned behavior.  I've also heard that it's because there's all those women and one guy.  I don't buy that because there are a lot more female dentists now and I've seen them have some pretty tense situations with staff, too.
    I think people get used to trouble and it begins to feel normal.  They get addicted to drama.  My grandmother was like that.  She lived in an apartment building in Brooklyn, NY.  When she was younger, everyone knew everyone else, and knew their business, too.  With everyone living so close to each other, it was hard not to.  So, there was a lot of gossip and arguments.  They didn't seem to feel right if they weren't going over the details of someone else's life.  In other words, they were in it for the drama.  Maybe it made them feel more alive, maybe it was unavoidable, given the proximity.  As she got older, we realized that even though she didn't know as many of her neighbors, she still ferreted out drama on a regular basis.  My mother was knocking on doors every so often trying to find out why these neighbors were bothering such an old woman.  The eye-opener was this; the neighbors liked my grandmother and felt bad that she was often so agitated.  One even visited with her child after my grandmother complained about the noise the child made.  They tried to make peace, but she was having none of it.  She was a drama addict.  She got an excitement high from it.
    Can you see how this sometimes happens in dental offices?  People get into routines and get bored.  They look around to find someone who seems to feel like they do.  Judy looks a little frustrated so Mary starts poking around her psyche until she hits paydirt.  Judy isn't so crazy about Ann.  Well, of course Mary can sympathize and off we go.  This is getting exciting and we're so bored, we deserve a little excitement.  Then Ann finds out and complains to Sarah and things are really stirring up now.  Get the picture.  Why stay in a rut when you can have so much to talk about? 
    The problem occurs when things get messy.  An explosion is inevitable in this scenario and explosions are always a mess.  There will be tears and long heaving sighs.  People won't be talking to each other, but they'll brightly try to act like they're fine, even as they shoot a nasty look at whoever they feel has wronged them.  If you think the patients don't feel this, you're kidding yourself.  Now the hapless dentist or office manager has to step in and break it up.  They'll be more tears and professions of friendship and sorrow, until the next time and it will start all over again.  Sound familiar?
    It will become very familiar until you do something different.  Sit that group of people down and tell them you are going to have a team and if they want to be part of it, they'll have to do one thing.  They'll have to quit the drama cold turkey and become peace addicts.  Sure, they'll fall off the wagon now and then.  You have to remind them that they're peace addicts and how wonderful life is when they stick with it.  It makes a big difference.  I know from experience.  Our team is a group of people that decided to become peace addicts.  We get a true high from living that way.  We are free from worry about being gossiped about or being caught gossiping.  We are secure in the knowledge that everyone else has our back.  We like each other.  Now, don't you want a hit of that.  Once you do, be warned, you'll be addicted.

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