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I Am Not a Dentist November 15, 2011

Posted by Jason in Management.
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I am not a dentist.

I have never had any desire to enter the medical field, and am not particularly interested in the masticatory system.

So it remains a mystery what possessed me to pick up a book written by a dentist for other dentists – one that I found in, of all places, a small thrift store on the coast of Queensland, Australia. A full third of the content is technical. I had no idea what occlusion, facebow, or medial pterygoid mean – and after reading the book, I still don’t.

But “The Art of the Examination” by Barry Polansky wasn’t intended to teach dentistry. I suppose the author gave little thought to how his zen-like approach to dentistry could apply to so many other areas of life and business – but I suspect he probably secretly does, much to his credit. In particular, as I’ve discussed several times in this space and in my Civil Connection column, there are more than a few similarities between engineering, law, and medicine. Each is a profession that depends much more on trust as it relates to public welfare. And in each case, our clients depend on our expertise to meet their very personal goals.

Every chapter has several practical insights designed to build the relationship between professional and client. Polansky’s unique approach is intended to seek out and then systematically work toward the patient’s individual needs. Even if services were free, there is still a great deal of pain and adjustment required to change our behavior – quite common in, for example, the management consulting world. The client’s commitment to stick with it to the end is dependent directly on whether he or she sincerely believes that we can arrive there together.

One piece of advice summarizes the book: always consider the patient’s personal circumstances. It doesn’t matter how good we might be at arguing a case, designing a particular structure, or filling a tooth. We must first ask why the patient has arrived in our chair at all. Pain? Broken tooth? Discoloration? What problem are we being asked to solve, and is it the right one?

If we jump into a project with our “hammer” of a solution, we may find that we have the wrong tool for the wrong job – and a damaged client at the end.

Find more of Dr. Polansky’s work on his website here: http://taoofdentistry.com/blog/about/



1. barrypolansky - November 27, 2011

Thanks for this wonderful post about my book. We both believe in the same thing…that 90% of your success comes from learning the soft skill.

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