The familiar refrain has oft went like this: we’ll talk about all things via the Intramuralist — albeit always, we will do so respectfully.
Sometimes we learn from the silliest places. Sometimes life’s most poignant lessons arise from the totally unexpected. We learn from both the big and the seemingly small.
Today I’d like to learn from my trip to the dentist.
I had to return last week.
You know the drill… good dental care… biannual check ups… low sugar… lots of brushing… and floss — yes, floss! (Insert sigh here — with all due respect to drs. Baron, Fennell, Y and Y.) It’s not that we don’t like the dentist; in fact, to go now is nothing like it used to be 25 years ago. (Note: the sigh comes from 25 years ago; those needles were really big.)
As with each of my medical professionals, I have a solid, positive relationship with my dentist. It’s a new relationship, though, having relocated in recent years. But I like him. A lot. In addition to providing his excellent, professional care, we typically talk college football and the combo joys and frustrations of raising kids wisely. I respect him much.
The visit before last, Dr. M shared with me his professional recommendations for continued care. Understood. Got the plan. Check.
Two weeks later I received a more generic email, generated by his office, which encouraged me to follow up with the plan. I picked up upon a sense of ardent urgency that I did not perceive in the actual office. I felt as if the office visit and the subsequent generic email did not correlate well together.
Seeing Dr. M soon thereafter while accompanying one of my kids (with those joys and frustrations), I asked Dr. M if it was ok to share some feedback. Fully welcoming my insight, I shared with him my discomfort with the perceived uncorrelated communication. Dr. M stayed present, asked multiple questions in order to understand, said he’d look into it, and thanked me for sharing respectful feedback. [Note: respectful does not equate to negative or positive.]
On return to Dr. M this past week — multiple months after the feedback interaction — this visit he asked to speak to me. He said, “I want to let you know what I did with the feedback you provided.”
At that time he shared that he looked into the issue, considered our office visit conversation, and he reviewed the generic email. His staff team then spent time discussing the issue. What was their perspective?
He then shared with me totally politely, respectfully, and appropriately that after taking time to thoroughly review, investigate, discuss, and consider, they did not agree with my perspective.
Allow me to be clear: there was nothing said rudely nor wrongly. His words were in depth and respectful. The only thing significantly marking this conversation was disagreement.
It was excellent.
I looked at him and thanked him. And then I said, with a small smile on my face:
“It’s ok. I may be wrong.”
Friends, the beauty of my dentist visit — and what I believe would be wise to employ in all of our conversations, be them about Donald Trump, impeachment, the presidential candidates, and more — is that the dentist respected me enough to sincerely consider my opinion.
Respect isn’t dependent upon agreement.
After all, we may wrong.