Approval Addiction


Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Needing to be Accepted

“Doctor, did you see the temporary crown I fabricated for Mrs. Jones? Didn’t it come out beautiful?”, said Suzie the dental assistant.

“Doctor, Mr. White has finally agreed to have the all on four that I’ve been talking to him about for years”, said Joanie the hygienist.

“Doctor, I filled that open appointment today after calling 10 different patients”, chimed Margret the business administrator.

While all these scenarios are examples of what we all are trained to do in our given positions, we often feel the need to reiterate the fact that we accomplished something we want “celebrated”.  Why is this so prevalent in our industry?  Why do we require lots of kudos and on-going recognition?

It’s due to the condition many of us suffer from known as “Approval Addiction”.

This also applies to the dentist that is uncomfortable to let a patient know that they have probably cracked a tooth that will require attention, but instead says “We’ll just watch it” rather than act now to alleviate future issues.

And what about the “Let’s make a Deal” style of dentistry?  This is when the patient tries to negotiate a lower fee AND the doctor agrees! Why? Because they want acceptance, they want to not be the bearer of bad news and they want the patient to like them, so lowering the fee to please the patient is the way to go.  No, not really.  When we are not pro-active and handle an obvious problem immediately things generally get worse and then where are we? This doesn’t even include the fact that one patient could tell another patient that they got a reduction on their fee, then the new patient expects the same treatment.  Could this be the pre-curser to “barter” Dentistry?

I’m guilty of this too and I’m here to come clean.  Although my fee is per hour, I am known to conveniently omit a few hours here and there, and will very often extend courtesies for no legitimate reason.  I know I should practice what I preach and I’m trying to get better at this.  I do have to justify my value on a regular basis and have deep introspective conversations with myself every now and then. But I’m definitely improving and making great strides daily.

If all of my fellow dental professionals would just become more aware of their own personal behaviors, perhaps we can all improve, thus relieving some of the unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves.