It’s 3 pm in the afternoon on a beautifully sunny day with a sky full of cotton candy clouds. There is a warm breeze caressing the city like a lover caressing his soul mates cheek after a passionate rendezvous. (Did I grab your attention??!!)

The phone rings………… The over tired, unappreciative employee cringes in dismay at the thought of actually having to answer the phone on the second ring,  rolls their eyes on the third, wearily answers it on the fourth by mumbling some unintelligible pathetic greeting that even a certified speed reader can’t decipher and then couldn’t even tell you who called or what they wanted after they completed the call in 32 seconds flat. They go back to wondering why their life sucks, how they got stuck in this pathetic job (oh, hey, when is payday?!) and how Susie is having a banger of a get together this weekend and gosh is it Friday yet?

Complete employee disengagement. Time clock puncher. Shows up to do the BAM (bare ass minimum) only to collect that paycheck, living day-to-day in the weariness of negativity of their own minds. They hate their job, usually complain about everything under the sun, can’t believe how everyone else is always so wrong and thinks their boss should be grateful that at least they showed up to work today instead of griping because they were 10 minutes late. Does any of this sound familiar?

These types of employees are the LIFE SUCK of the work society. I would rather wait for a quality service or product, PAY for that quality service or product to connect with a completely engaged human being. I’m not saying fru-fru service of kissing my ass or throwing rose petals in my path as I walk in the door. I am talking about friendly and appreciative engagement. What’s that cost? NUTHIN’. It’s a personal investment each human being must decide to make to not only thrive in the work environment, but enhance their LIFE.

You ever notice how disengaged society seems?  Standing in my favorite Starbucks yesterday morning, (you know the one I raved about last week?) I quietly absorbed the surroundings. Not one of the Starbucks employees used my name, forgot my drink and not one of the 14 people standing in line were smiling. Not one. So I smiled. I plastered the biggest smile on my face I could muster just to see what would happen. Nuthin’.  Guess how I felt when I left? Deflated.

A few people were chatting loudly on their cell phones, holding up the line (why is it people who MUST talk on their cell phones in a public place can’t seem to stick with the program of moving forward, instead holding everyone else up, to which we blame it on them being so absorbed in their call) and other than that it seemed like I walked into a land of zombies. Complete disengagement. (maybe the regular morning coffee really does swallow your soul? bwah-ha!)

Customer service, engagements, connections, communications, gratitude….. It’s all been twirling around in my brain lately. I really do believe success in all areas of life has to do with connections, engagement, being graciously grateful and communication. You will not find one successful company or place of business that doesn’t have these characteristics. Of course it leads me to think about how this affects dental practices – why some are absolutely booming right now and others are struggling. At the risk of repeating myself from a blog post a few weeks ago – It’s NOT the economy!!

In calling a few dental practices, I am amazed at the same type of attitude. They just don’t care. **SPOILER ALERT – Every single caller to your office is a potential patient. Every single outbound call made is a reflection of you and your practice and even if it is just to order a sandwich, the person on the other end is still a potential patient!! The water delivery person. A potential patient. The landscaper. Potential patient. Somebody stopping in to sell you a new phone service. A potential patient. Who do YOU have welcoming patients?

A colleague of mine who owns a rather large staffing service recently shared this story with me. She had a dentist take the time out of his busy day to call her, (after her admin person was given permission by his administrative person to fax a seminar invitation) to tell her “NEVER fax anything here again – I know who you are and what you do and if I need you I’ll call!” She of course, stunned, apologized and let him know that they were just sharing upcoming seminar details with their office with PERMISSION – He said “Oh, ok, just email me that then” and gave her his email.  Seriously? NOT! But here’s the kicker. She was a potential patient. She has a ton of connections. Guess who she won’t ever be calling on nor referring any one to?

Serious disengagement from the awareness of actions in direction proportion to the repercussions of said actions.

What has happened to the notion of just being nice? Of being a kind human being? A caring human being? An engaged employee who takes pride in their job, where they work and being part of a fantastic team? Look around and absorb the engagement (or lack thereof) that surrounds you. I personally think disengagement is one of the worst feelings ever. And if this disengagement is passed to your patients, I am here to tell you that BUYING ANYTHING is based on emotional connections and engagement, and that includes dentistry. It’s all about the emotion.

I know, there are many practices and businesses out there who DO have engagement. Who do work together tremendously as a team – and guess what? Their production, satisfaction, and loyalty show it.

Here is a great short note from author Paul Spiegelman (this guy is genius!) on a common sense approach to building a company culture of engagement.


  1. Give them a voice. Listen to them. Implement their ideas.  Give them all the credit.
  2. Pay them fairly. To build a great culture, you have to have the basics in place. That means reasonable compensation and benefits. You don’t have to be at the top of the market.  But if you try to create a culture of fun and miss the money part, it will appear disingenuous.
  3. Recognize and reward. Don’t just give them more cash.  People just want to feel valued. Ask them how they want to be recognized; you’ll be surprised at some of the answers.
  4. Offer opportunities for advancement. Most of your employees want to feel there is room to grow. Do they know the path? Have you written it down for them? Show them the way.
  5. Support out-of-the-box semantics. Stop with the fancy titles. All that does is build silos and internal competition.  Our receptionist’s official title is the “director of first impressions” and my assistant is the “director of executive wrangling.”
  6. Infiltrate the workplace with fun. Decorate the place, put up photos, host dress-up days, plan fun events, and bring families to the party.
  7. Walk the talk. You are the leader, so act like it. Don’t expect others to execute on this one. You have to let your hair down, set the example, and join the party. Get out of your office.
  8. Send a handwritten note. And send it home. The way to make a real connection is not through email, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Put pen to paper, put card in envelope, add a real stamp, and put it in the mailbox.
  9. Create traditions. Buying a keg of beer this Friday night won’t change the culture. It takes commitment and long-term resolve. When you find something that works, keep doing it.
  10. Open your heart. Let everyone know that we are in this together. Be vulnerable. Share your successes and failures. In turn, they’ll fall on a sword for you.

These don’t take long to read and aren’t hard to understand. Print them out, learn them, love them, live them, and your employees will be smiling in no time.

Smiling, engaged employees activate productive FUN environments including happy patients, loyal patients. It makes the day and the workplace not only pleasant, but a place where your team looks forward to going to. Excited to see what today is going to bring.

It’s your world. Make it what you want it.

I choose engaged. I choose kind. I choose appreciation. I choose to enjoy every day as I don’t know when my last might be.  And I hope to share smiles and laughter with all whom I connect.

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