During my last visit to the dentist, I found that my hygienist, whom I had been seeing for the last 2 years, had resigned from her position. Her second child had arrived and she chose to partake in all the wonderful rewards of being an at home mom. (As an at-home mom for 11years, I’m a little biased). The young, new replacement hygienist with perfect white teeth introduced herself as she walked me to the dental chair. As I sat back, she asked me three or four questions, swiped a glance at my last x-rays and began to power back the head of my chair all in an orderly fashion. Her lack of conversation made me wonder if she was unhappy about something. I hoped she was not having a bad day because I was about to open my mouth and who knows what could happen next.
Thankfully the new gal was rather gentle but still diligent with her task. At one point during the initial exam of my teeth, she removed her utensils. I used that moment to ask a question. Her response caught me off guard a bit. She answered with a yes because we “had enough time”. I looked around and did not see any stop watch or schedule posted to know if we were ahead or behind schedule, yet she seemed very ‘aware’ of the clock. Inside I felt awkward because I wasn’t sure if I had taken too much time or asked a dumb question. Basically, I wasn’t sure how to read her response and I was missing my bubbly, sociable hygienist that I had grown to adore.
The rest of the checkup went smoothly and I was on my way after having another A+ visit. All the way home, I was thinking about how different that checkup was compared to what I have experienced in the last 2 years. The only new variable was a new person.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks - My previous hygienist was a very outgoing, people oriented type of person, while the new hygienist was more reserved and quite task oriented. I did not do anything wrong nor was there any problems with the care I was given. What I failed to realize at the time, was that these two ladies were different personalities and viewed life through different lens!
Here’s what we know…theoretically the world can be divided into two. There are people who are people oriented and there are people who are more task oriented. Neither is right nor wrong, they are just different.
The first hygienist who cared for me was on the people side – she would always ask how I was doing, how my kids were, what our family was up to…things like that. To be honest, it took forever to get started with the checkup because she and I would chat and chat and chat. I too am an outgoing person and appreciate the people connection. On the other hand, the second hygienist saw the task ahead of her and most likely because she was new, wanted to do things “by the book” and make a good impression. She was focused on her assignment and getting done on time. Again, neither is right nor wrong, the approaches were just different.
All in all, I realized that if I would have thought more about the new hygienist given her personality and situation of being the new kid on the block, I could have helped ease any nerves and showed more interest in her…instead of expecting the reverse. Sometimes we all just need to be reminded that taking time to understand the other person can usually improve a relationship.
An interesting side note to this story…when I told my husband about the experience I had encountered at the dentist, his only comment was, “Sounds like I would like the new hygienist. After all, we go to the dentist to have our teeth cleaned, don’t we?” Ah…the power of understanding people!