How to Stay Positive with Patients & Coworkers

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Being a dental hygienist can obviously be tiring. Seeing patient after patient can slowly chip away at your positivity. Having to work with negative co-workers, or people you don’t get along with makes everything that much more difficult.

Dealing with problem patients, staying on schedule, and having to put up with not-so-kind coworkers in the office can make work an absolute dread.

However, there are ways for you to build a more positive and energetic environment in the office, leading to better interactions with both your patients and coworkers.

The first step in making your workplace a more energetic and positive environment is by showing respect to all of your coworkers, even the ones who you may not be so fond of. This can be done in many different ways: by asking genuine questions regarding their daily life, their hobbies, and interests, or even their goals. This will help develop a less superficial relationship and establish a more caring and sincere connection with your coworkers. Doing so will make those hard days much more enjoyable as you’ll be working with people you actually care about!

Needless to say, giving and receiving respect is a bit difficult at times. Maybe you and a co-worker got into a heated argument last week and have been avoiding each other ever since. Or maybe you two were just awkward around each other from the start. Regardless of the situation, trying to show genuine respect will help make those around you a bit more respectful too. However, if you always show a lack of respect to your coworkers, then expect them to do the same. So be mindful of how you interact with the people around you; often it will take just one genuine action to help the negativity slowly fade away.

On top of establishing a more comfortable work relationship with your coworkers, another big part of encouraging positivity is doing more than just what you’re told to do. In short, it’s about going above and beyond, excelling at what you do and even helping your other coworkers with their tasks as time permits. By doing so, your coworkers will be much more likely to help you when you need it the most (leading to a more cohesive and caring group). However, it’s great to show that you can go above and beyond, make sure you’re not allowing people to take advantage of you as this makes the workplace a more negative environment to work in.

As obvious as it might sound, having a positive mindset and attitude will help make those around you a bit more positive as well. A great example of this involves simply smiling more; after all, a smile can be contagious and before you know it the entire office is smiling!

Regardless of how big or how small your impact, you have the ability to completely change up the atmosphere of the workplace!

Don’t wait for someone else to lead the way with positivity! If you’re more caring, positive, and understanding towards your patients and your coworkers, then it is much more likely you will receive the same in return.

In short: be respectful of everyone. Though it won’t lead to an overnight change, you will see a gradual change in mood spread throughout the office. And at the end of the day, what do you have to lose? Go out there and show the world just how much positivity you can bring into it!

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Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP
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.