I have the privilege of helping dental office organizations nationwide communicate and work together more effectively, become better leaders, and deliver service with more passion and focus through my Culture Camps!
A big part of the Culture Camp process is to shed light on the obstacles that get in their way. One of the biggest obstacles people struggle with is the belief that their behavior is their personality… and they couldn’t possibly change their personality… it’s just who they are! It is out of their control!
The dictionary defines personality as the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual. Behavior is defined as the aggregate of responses to internal and external stimuli.
Our personality is who we are but does not have to determine our behavior. Our behavior is a response to what is happening, and we can always choose our response. Once we understand this, we are no longer limited by our personality traits. We can choose behaviors that support and set us up to succeed.
Hiring lesson: Character vs. skills
I was working with a scheduling coordinator whom I will refer to as Fran. This coordinator did not exude warm fuzzies to the patients. However, the doctor and dental office manager wanted their scheduling coordinator to be warm and welcoming.
Please follow me while I chase a squirrel for a moment: Hiring the right person for the role is key. In this case, they hired someone who had the skillset, but not the natural inclinations to succeed in the role; they chose skills over character. It is much easier and more realistic to train skillsets than it is to try to develop someone’s character. If you have to make a choice between skills and character in any applicants, character always wins.
Confronting a behavioral situation
My first step was to confirm with Fran whether or not she even wanted to be more friendly and welcoming. She responded:
“I do… but how I greet people and answer the phone is just who I am. I can’t be fake!”
I reassured her that I did not want her to be fake, but instead, come from a place of genuine care and warmth.
I asked her to think about something or someone she loved. She took a moment and said, “Oooohhhh, I love my dog!”,/i> As she said it, her eyes sparkled and she smiled wide. In that moment, she was actually beaming warm fuzzies!
I said, “That’s it! That’s the energy and emotion that we are looking for!” Fran said, “But I don’t feel that way about the patients. Most of the patients aren’t very friendly to me! I only feel that way about my dog! My dog loves me! AND even if I wanted to, I still can’t change my personality! I am not going to be all miss sunshine, rainbows and kittens! It’s just not me!”
I told her I didn’t expect her to change her personality to be sunshine, rainbows, and kittens. I was just asking her to change how she treated the patients. The awesome part: This isn’t even a new behavior she needed to learn. She had already displayed it when she was talking about her dog. All she had to do was replicate those same behaviors with the patients.
Changing behavior, not personality
We taped a little picture of her dog in a place where she could quickly glance at it, to help her genuinely smile before answering the phone or greeting a patient. Fran was able to make the change once she understood that smiling and greeting patients warmly was a learned behavior, not a set personality trait.
I checked in with her to see how she was doing and she shared that the patients seemed to be a whole lot friendlier to her lately! Hmmm… might have something to do with the energy she now radiates! Just saying… it’s the Law of Attraction in action!
Oftentimes we get so wrapped up defending “who we are” that we don’t realize it is our behavior that is in question, not our personality. The next time you are asked to make a change, instead of going into defense mode and responding, “I can’t change; this is just who I am”, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the benefits and value of changing my behavior?
- Where have I demonstrated the desired behavior?
- How can I replicate this behavior in this situation?
Once we understand that our behavior is just a response we can choose to change at any time AND not our personality, we are open to creating limitless success!
Are you in need of some dental office manager support? Contact Judy Kay Mausolf today to learn how she can help you cultivate behaviors that support a happier, healthier, and high-performing culture!
Meet the Author
Judy Kay Mausolf is a dental practice management coach, speaker, and author with expertise in helping others get happier and more successful! She coaches dentists and their teams how to become better leaders, communicate positively and effectively, work together and deliver service with more passion and focus, all of which ultimately result in growing their practice.
Judy Kay is Past President of the National Speakers Association Minnesota Chapter, a member of the National Speakers Association, Academy of Dental Management Consultants, and Director of Sponsoring Partners for the Speaking Consulting Network. She is the author of two books: TA-DAH! Get Happy in 5 Seconds or Less; and Rise & Shine: An Evolutionary Journey to Get Out of Your Way and On Your Way to Success; and a contributing author for many dental publications.
Judy Kay lives in Minnesota with her awesome husband Steve, who makes her special coffee every morning, and Zoe, the “it’s all about me” seven-pound Yorkie!