Orthodontic Front Desk: Keeping Your Emotions from Getting in the Way of Success

Over the years, we’ve learned many skills for the office. From speaking up and offering advice to planning far enough ahead, it hasn’t always been easy – but few things have been more important than learning how to take emotion out of the job while still being a calm, welcoming individual for patients.

Here are our best orthodontic practice management tips for staying cool at the front desk.

#1: Understand That It Isn’t Personal

When a mother is yelling that she needs to get her other kids to hockey practice, it’s not personal. When there’s a nasty bully in the back that’s always badmouthing you, it’s not personal. When a child is running around and delaying all of the other appointments, it’s not personal.

Problems happen for different reasons, but almost all of them are a reflection of others. Those mothers are worried about accomplishing their own goals. Those bullies will just attack someone else. And kids? Well, kids barely even notice you exist.

You don’t need to worry about what they think. Instead, just focus on doing your job, advancing your career, and solving problems instead of complaining. Don’t be afraid to teach others, either. When everyone in the office knows how to handle things, morale will shoot up before you know it.

#2: You Have a Job and You Need to Do It.

Your job is important. Sure, the orthodontists are the ones doing the work on patients, but does anybody think they could get the job done without having the front desk to manage things? It doesn’t matter if you’re working with five people or fifty – your job needs to get done.

That means you’re usually going to be in there for eight hours a day, five days a week, most weeks of the year. If you can’t get along with people you’re going to be spending that much time with, you’ve got a problem.

It is vital that you find a good way to communicate with your coworkers. This could be as easy as inviting them to a get-together after work sometime or as rough as a mandated conflict resolution (though, obviously, you want to avoid letting things get that bad).

I don’t know your exact situation, so I can’t say which method is best for you – but I know that you need to be able to do your job. The whole office is counting on you, and failure is not an acceptable option. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice from others if you need it, but make sure you can do your job.

If you have trouble with this, you may need to learn how to ask effectively when you need help. Once you’ve done this a few times, it will start to come naturally – and that can help stop small problems from turning into big ones.

#3: Carefully Manage Your Relationships

If you’ve been working with someone for years, you can develop close friendships – but that doesn’t mean you should tell them anything and everything about how you’re feeling. Most people like supporting their friends and an ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality can be toxic for a workplace.

You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you do need to get along well enough to do your jobs without a bunch of added stress. Instead of allowing an office war, take a few deep breaths and only vent to people who have no connection to the office.  When all of the negativity is pushed away, it can disappear instead of worsening the atmosphere you work in.

As a bonus, this can help you behave more positively whenever you’re in the office. Most people like being around others who are happier, and the higher your morale is, the higher theirs is likely to become in response.

If you find it difficult to make friends and be liked by others, you may need to start developing certain habits and actively trying to manage your relationships.

#4: Refocus Yourself

When you’re busy at the front desk, it’s easy to feel like you’re just a cog in the machine. However, you don’t have to limit your opportunities to those your manager gives you. You always have the choice to step back, look around, and improve your office or your career growth.

For example, you can take classes, earn new certifications, and look for new ways to provide value to your office. Many resources are available for free or at a reduced cost, and you can often achieve things in as little as a few weeks.

When you do things like this, you’ll increase your value to the company – and that leads directly to your success.

#5: Do More of What You Like

I was surprised when I first learned how willing companies were to let me do what I wanted – as long as work was getting done, of course.

If you like talking to people, you can volunteer to do more work with the phones. If you enjoy using computers, you can work to manage the appointments book. Before long, this will become an expected part of your job – and you won’t have to spend as much time on things you don’t like.

Finding fun things to do is easily one of the most important parts of keeping your emotions under control. If your job is nothing but stress all the time, you aren’t going to last. On the other hand, if you know any trouble spots will be smoothed over by a quick return to what you like doing, it’s a lot easier to bear the burden.

I know that most of this is easier to say than do. There’s always more drama with co-workers than with patients, and that’s not even considering what can happen if your office’s owner is less than pleasant. However, there are always things you can do to improve yourself and the world around you.


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