Differences in the workplace garden

By Natalie Kaweckyj, LDA, RF, CDA, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, CPFDA, CRFDA, MADAA, BA

“Common sense is a flower that doesn’t grow in everyone’s garden,” is a favorite quote of mine that I would like to share with you. Many of us can go a lifetime without landing in the perfect practice, while others luck out on their first try. Sometimes it’s all about who you know and word of mouth.

So which category do I fall into? Definitely not the latter one! Without counting my volunteer jobs, I have held three different positions in almost 30 years of dentistry. My current practice has already bypassed the years I worked in my first office thinking it was the perfect place to grow professionally – a position I interviewed for right out of school. The second position was landed because of who I was, and the third – by word of mouth. Private practice, academia, and now public health. Each with unique experiences, but all with the same types of flowers in the workplace garden.

Look around your dental team and think of them as plants or flowers surviving cohesively in a garden (workplace). Some plants may require a bit more maintenance, while others can be watered sporadically and forgotten about and they continue to survive. A well-tended garden (workplace) is one in which all plants/flowers are given what they need in order to thrive. And, as we know, different types have distinctive requirements. 

A team member who is given remarkable intellect might be referred to as book smart – either due to education, genetics, or a thirst for knowledge. We all know of someone who fits this category: Top of the class, doesn’t have to study, knows everything.

Others might be street smart – those who know how to get by in any situation when others may be truly challenged or frightened away. These are usually the team members who are great at troubleshooting equipment challenges.

And then there is common sense or practicality, yet another type of cleverness. Just like the others, it may not be a gift given to all. We use the term “common sense” frequently amongst ourselves every day. Common sense isn’t actually common or widespread. It is different from person to person and mostly depends on how good one can handle a given situation drawing on human experience and people’s individual perceptions.

All team members are unique, and this is probably why we tend to vary in so many different aspects of life in general. This is what makes each of us distinct and an integral part of a team environment. Some of us have common sense, some will have street smarts, and some have book smarts. Some of us may be a combination of two of the three. It is rare to find someone who is a combination of all three types.

I am sure that at some point in our professional careers we have probably said or thought to ourselves, “Wow, I wish I was better at impressions on gaggers” or “I wish I didn’t panic in situations involving conflict resolution.” Each one of us all have great qualities and yet we always tend to focus on what we are wanting or feel we are deficient in (in other words, lacking in our own mind). The next time thoughts like these come to mind, remember that everyone is different and we can each learn from one another. Everyone has great qualities and some qualities that we have to work harder at than others do. These qualities make us grow not only personally, but professionally as well. As we stretch to reach the sun and overcome our own personal challenges, we begin to thrive with experience, a little nurturing, and a bit of self-confidence.  

Learn from one another, and provide the needed nurturing for strengthening team relationships. And the next time you hear the quote, “Common sense is a flower that doesn’t grow in everyone’s garden,” you will have a new perspective on team member dynamics. We all have stunning gardens that are unique to each one of us! Share your knowledge, your expertise and passion, and watch the dynamics bloom.

Natalie Kaweckyj is a licensed dental assistant from Minneapolis, a two-time Immediate Past President and the first Master of the American Dental Assistants Association. As a busy clinician in public health dentistry and almost thirty years in the profession, Natalie finds time to share her passion for dentistry not only lecturing domestically, but internationally as well in addition to developing continuing education courses and writing articles. She holds a BA in biology and psychology and all six of DANB’s certifications, and is an Executive Moderator for Dental Peeps Network. She believes in making learning fun and uses various approaches to engage her audiences.

Note: “Toowoomba Flowers Garden-02=” by Sheba Also 18 Million Views is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/