It was not my plan to wake up in September and upset a dentist, but upset a dentist I did!
The Dentists email started fabulously with Marcus telling me how much he was enjoying my book but quickly took a negative turn as he pointed out that I’d been rather mean to his industry on page 46. On that page I talked about how unpleasant arrogant people can be and I compared it to sitting in the dentist chair. You know, arrogant people are a bit like dentists, you know you’re not going to enjoy the experience but someone how you’ve just got to get through it.
At the time of writing I carried out some research on “What is the worse place you have to go?” and the replies varied from;
The dentist featured the highest and resonated with a lot of people so seemed the natural choice to select. It also resonated with me because 30 years ago I’d had such a severe phobia of the dentist that I had to be sedated to even have a check and clean! I would pass out in the chair. Not a nice experience and thus because it resounded with me too it went in the book.
My book – Fight the fear is about the 12 biggest fears that impact on success and I share how to get what you want in life and overcome the obstacles and fears to build confidence and success. I have a habit of having a laugh with my coaching clients because it helps them look at tough situations, feelings and obstacles in their life that are usually causing negative emotions, actions and results. So I wanted to bring that style to my book as well as the strategies that I know work.
What do you say to someone you’ve upset and upset his whole profession?
Well I was honest. I did start by asking for a review (since no one ever gets around to writing those!) and then I found that I spent a good few minutes thinking about it.
Did I really hate dentists? What should I say to Marcus?
Marcus had got me thinking!
My Dentist (Miss Rasheed) rocks! She’s so patient and thanks to my Lupus et al sometimes its’ near on impossible to open my mouth wide enough or for long enough and yet she patiently helps me and always checks that my medication is not impacting on my teeth, she’s always kind and when my teeth crumbled thanks to the meds I thought Miss Rasheed was going to cry too at the unfairness of it all!
Okay years ago I went 3 years without a checkup because I didn’t’ get my fear under control (ironic I fix people’s fears for a living now right?) and while visiting the dentist is not on my top 100 days out list, I love the clean feel you get from a dentists clean and I love having a catch up with Miss Rasheed. It’s almost like a review of the last 6 months. You come out grinning because you’ve had a chat and realised you’ve done some pretty awesome things since you last saw her!
So Marcus was right but I wasn’t wrong. How can that be?
Well, while Marcus was very right to point out that “modern confidence building dentistry is as far from this as possible!” because it is. It’s most definitely not a man yanking your teeth out with pliers while his foot gains leverage on your chest. However I was right because factually it had rated highly as somewhere, with someone many of us hate to be.
Would I use that analogy if I was writing Fight the fear now?
Probably, however I would have added that it is a perception of reality (that is not correct) that enables us to view dentists in this 18th century style instead of the 21st century carers they actually are. Which in all honesty is also something that happens with most fears – we create a version of reality that doesn’t serve us well and enables the fear (and thus damages our success) scary right? Possibly worded like this the analogy for dentists would have proved more powerful so I commend Marcus for emailing me.
So what do you do when you are faced with assumptions that damage your life, your results and even a profession?
The mistake that most people make is they “tell” the other party their own view and communicate in a way that says “If you don’t think the same as me then you are wrong.” The powerful communications happen when you enable someone to view something differently for themselves so first of all challenge them. Respectfully. Powerful communication is a hot topic throughout Gight the fear so I can see why it appealed to Marcus so much.
Where’s the facts?
Once you’ve challenged them ask them to give you evidence that has enabled them to think like that. In my case I took time to consider “How do I think about dentists?” And was able to see that my own viewpoint is very different to the one of the 15 year old Mandie Holgate. When I ask a client to give me the proof that they are useless, or it won’t work, or they are scared to do something, usually they are able to see it’s not true. And they have plenty of evidence to prove they are more than capable of succeeding, it’s just the rogue emotions trying to overpower the facts! As your coach I enable my clients to learn to notice how they think and talk to themselves. By enabling them to really understand this they have tools for life. Is the dentist really painful? How long are you really in the chair? Creating the right questions helps people look at things in a different way. WARNING word your viewpoint and question in the wrong way and you will lose any chance of getting your view across and respected.
Remove the stigma
You can’t always change people’s views or beliefs however you can help reduce the stigma thus eventually you can see it removed entirely. 11 years ago when I first spoke about trying to kill myself and my own depression people would tell me I was very brave to go on TV etc and talk so openly. I didn’t see it as brave, a firefighter running into a burning building is brave, talking about my past is not. For me it felt like the important thing to do. However now when I’m in the media and speaking up for mental health I rarely get that kind of comment. We are winning the war (all too slowly for my liking) on the barriers to discussing mental health and gaining mental health, and it’s the same for all stigmas.
Interestingly the book was originally aimed at people at work and we changed it to reflect WH Smith’s (the UK’s leading book stores) idea that we pitch the book to everyone. Every week I get messages from people telling me they have read my book and it’s helped them achieve more, overcome fears and their lack of confidence however closest to my heart is the messages that tell me that Fight the fear has helped people over come their phobias, mental health illnesses and emotional distress. I wish Mandie from 11 years ago had known going through hell would change thousands of peoples lives in the future, it may have helped her keep going!
So if you want to change people’s mind, talk about it. Get in the press, talk on social media, talk about it on your website, guest blog, blog, tell the world. As the saying goes “be part of the change you want to see in life.” That takes confidence so check your own confidence levels too.
Many people don’t know that your 21st century dentistry is not just helping you with your teeth and gums. They can spot Diabetes, Leukaemia, Oral cancer, Pancreatic cancer, Heart disease and Kidney disease (and that’s just a few things they can help detect!). My own dentist was the one to spot that the Lupus and meds were causing Osteopenia. If you can speak up about what a dentist really can do for you then you can help people to reframe how they think and thus how they act.
This is the same for most assumptions. When a client says something to me and I realise its something they’ve said repeatedly I raise their awareness to their assumption and break it down until it is gone, thus enabling a more powerful thought to take it’s place. Reframing works well for this. So instead of “I hate the dentist, it’s so painful” this could change to “It’s only 10 minutes for 6 months of healthy teeth, a good trade off!”
The fact is whether we like it or not like just as your car needs a service and your gutters need cleaning, your teeth need looking after too. It’s something we have to do if we want to keep our teeth, so the outdated inaccurate viewpoint of the dentist has to go doesn’t it?
As my readers and clients know most fears are hidden, (that’s is why they get to have power over you for so long because you can’t fix what you can’t see) and thanks to Marcus I’ve had a look at what I think and realised that if I allowed that negative viewpoint of dentists to stick around then my next visit could start to be like the ones of my teen years – horrific! Because ultimately our brains are big muscles that need exercising regularly to stay healthy.
Thank you Marcus, you are doing an awesome job of challenging these views, It begs the question “If you could change people’s beliefs around something what is it and how would you do it?
(If you are looking to change the world, grow a business or just change someones behaviour at work I’m happy to have a chat about the power of coaching to get what you want.)