In school and university we fall into groups. Social groups, where the majority of people have similar personalities, values and interests.

And then there are a few people who you just don’t get along with. You’re friendly and civilised but you don’t hang out in your free time. This is natural, mutual and okay.

Yet we go into clinical practice and feel the weight of impressing every patient on our shoulders. We can have a fantastic day full of wonderful patients and then have one who we just don’t gel with ruin it.

In the most recent DHS Podcast, Steve Dudgeon said an awesome quote:

“You are the best version of you”.

Dr Stephen Dudgeon

It’s a great point. We all are best when we’re being ourselves. If we’re trying to be someone we’re not our patients will sense it immediately and it will be felt as distrust. Every time.

When you do have a patient where you just don’t quite click, have a think about how you managed the situation and if you could’ve done anything better. Of course, communication is something we can all improve and should always be focused on.

Don’t forget that almost every patient is in a heightened state of anxiety when in the dental chair. Often, but not always, this impacts on their communication and interaction and we must be mindful, and empathetic to this situation. Check out the blog on patient anxieties here.

Yet sometimes, it’s not you, it’s them. It’s the difference between your personalities that the bridge of communication cannot yet span.
With time, communication training and experience, the communication bridge will span more gaps. However it is important to let some go. Accept and move on as quickly as possible….

In fact, sometimes this can be a blessing. The patients you get along with, accept your treatment, love you and you love caring for will start to refer their friends. And fortunately, we all fall into those social groups, with similar values, similar personalities and similar interests.

When things don’t click, let it go and focus on those you love to treat

So, continue to improve your connection and communication but when you really feel things don’t click, let it go and focus on those you love to treat, they’ll thank you for it.

David is a recent graduate dentist working in private practice in regional NSW, Australia. Read more at

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