Ask Kara RDH: Patients Complain I Talk too Much

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When I am uncomfortable, running late, stressed out, fill-in the blank—–, I talk too loud and tend to talk too much. This “she talks too much” has inspired two patients complaining this last year in our reviews. I really try not to, but sometimes I misread the patient and pow! Any advice?

This can be a tough one because you want to build rapport with your patients, but you don’t want to put them off by over-doing it. While it may be hard not to take this personally, listen to the feedback you’re getting. Being aware of the issue is a huge first step. Keep practicing on “reading the patient” and being self-aware. If they are not in a talking mood after some small talk and if they don’t seem interested, then try to limit the chatting. Reading people is hard, and sometimes you get it wrong, it simply happens. Not all personality types mesh either. Trying to please everyone is tough, and some people just can’t be pleased. Especially those who complain because they are unhappy with their own life, so they spread that negativity to everyone they encounter.

It sounds like it is your instinct to talk to fill the void of being uncomfortable but recognize that the patient may not be feeling uncomfortable. The complaints also may stem from the subject at which you are talking about. Make sure you are keeping everything workplace appropriate. People love to talk about themselves; asking about vacations, work, their children, grandchildren, pets, etc. can get them talking about a topic they feel comfortable with. Let them talk, so you don’t have to!

It’s a fine balance, but again, simply knowing you are a “nervous talker” and being self-aware about it is the first step of moving toward a solution!

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Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP, is a Co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Today’s RDH, a digital media company for dental hygienists, encompassing a daily publication, podcast, virtual continuing education events, and self-study continuing education. Kara is recognized as one of the largest social media influencers in dental hygiene, with a following of over 200,000 dental hygienists and other dental professionals. Kara was recognized in 2020 as one of the Top 100 Women in Media for her entrepreneurship as a Co-founder of Today’s RDH. In 2022, she was recognized by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association for their Standout Seven Award in the Entrepreneur category. A graduate of the Oregon Institute of Technology, Kara has a deep passion for spreading knowledge about the importance of oral health and its relation to systemic health. Kara’s passion extends to helping other hygienists understand the latest protocols, products, and research – all with the goal of pushing the dental hygiene profession forward. Kara currently lives in Vancouver, Washington, just outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Ben, and their four Chihuahuas. In her free time, you will find Kara on her quad riding the Oregon Dunes, spoiling her Chihuahuas, and cherishing every moment with her family and friends.