Shaming never works!

18 Feb

So at first I wanted to write about this experience just because I’m down right angry and this is a good outlet to vent.  I was thinking though that it really didn’t fit the theme of my blog, but the truth is, it really does.

I went to the dentist this morning.  I HATE the dentist. Mind you, I have a super great dentist and he does great work, but the entire experience is so awful that I avoid going at all costs.

I knew however that it’d been awhile and I have HORRIBLE teeth (God bless genetics) and it was time to put on my big girl pants and go.

This was my encounter.

As I walked up to check-in, the shaming began.

Receptionist “Oh (disappointed tone of voice) I see it’s been an awfully long time since you’ve been in.  Nearly five years since your last cleaning. Can you verify your address for me please?”

(Here’s the appropriate receptionist response. “Good Morning Kayla.  Great to see you today.  Can I have you verify some info for me so I know we’re up to date? Thanks so  much.”)

As soon as the receptionist called me back she says (before we even reached her chair) “So in looking at your chart, I see it’s been far too long since you’ve been in last.  It’s been 5 years since we’ve done bite wing x-rays and those need done once a year.  And it’s been 7 years since we did a panoramic x-ray and that needs done very 5 years.  We need an update on these. Assuming you haven’t been going to anyone else? Can we update these?”

(Here’s the appropriate way to greet your patient. “Hi Kayla.  I’d like to start with x-rays today to update your chart.  Your insurance will cover bite-wing once a year and panoramic every five years so you shouldn’t have any concerns with these being covered services today.  Would it be ok if we take these?”    The customer knows how long it’s been.  They don’t need you to remind them.  And if they had them done elsewhere and the know there will be insurance issues, they will let you know.  They are an adult.  Treat them like one.)

As she’s cleaning my teeth, “Since it’s been five years, there is a little more tarter build up than when you come in every 6 months like you should be doing. I’m going to get you fixed up, but in order to stay on this, make sure you’re coming in every six months from now on.”

(Again, the correct manner to address this. “I’m so glad you came in today and gave me the opportunity to clean your teeth.  I hope I’m doing a great job and get to see you again in 6 months.)

As the dentist came in (RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME) she filled the dentist in “I let her know five years is far too long and if she expects to have healthy teeth and stay on top of things, she needs to be coming in more regularly.  She did have excess tarter build up from the long absence but again I addressed with her that she needs to be here regularly.”

(This does not need addressed in front of the client. Talk outside the room or leave it in the notes.)

And then, the dentist took the opportunity to address the “issue” at hand.  “If you come in every six months as you should be doing, I can keep a close eye on things and make sure we stay on top of the areas that give us concern.”

(How about saying this “In taking a look at things today, here is what I see.  I feel like this could be a bigger issue and in order to prevent this from happening, I would really like to keep an eye on this at your next appointment preferably in six months if that works for you.”)

I don’t know if they train everyone (which appears to be the case) to lecture the clients but I was FURIOUS when I left.

If the goal was to make me feel empowered to take good care of my teeth and come back in six months, they FAILED!!!!!

If the goal was to embarrass me, belittle me, treat me like a child, mock my intelligence, and heap unnecessary guilt on my shoulders – they NAILED it like champs!

I got to thinking… how are we doing with the sin in others lives?  Are we heaping unnecessary guilt, belittlement, embarrassment, attacking their intelligence and shaming them like children when we don’t like what we see or think they need to stop/start doing something?

Or are we doing our job as Christians with love, grace, mercy, and tenderness which allows them to feel empowered to make the right decision for themselves?

Practical Application:

Just taking a self evaluation of how I handle when my spouse, children, co-workers do something I don’t like or agree with.  Do I reach for shaming – or love?

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4 Responses to “Shaming never works!”

  1. Emily C February 18, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    First – you should take the beginning part out but for the most part copy and paste this into a letter and send it to the office. Absolutely unacceptable. And if it’s happened to you it happens to others. I would rather pay for another set of x-rays and another cleaning myself to go to a different office than be subject to that again. And I think they should know.

    Just so you feel better – it was seven years for me from when I had my first child that I went to the dentist. I went when I was nine months pregnant and then seven years later. Yes, I had all the shame of knowing that that was bad… I had been taken religiously twice a year since I was very young. I hate the dentist. HATE. I owned it when I walked into the office and then before anyone had a chance to say anything to me I owned it over and over again. Maybe that took some of the shame away. My parents were shaming enough…( I also have genetics to thank for some bad teeth ).

    With that out-of-the-way, shame is paralyzing. I think it is one of the biggest things that stands in the way of healthy relationships in the church. Whether it’s the actual shaming or just the anticipation of expecting shame, it keeps people from authentic relationships when they feel they won’t be excepted for the reality of all of who they are… The good, the bad, and ugly.

    So when we get mad that we walk through church doors and see a bunch of fake people with masks on, we have shame to thank for that. The change has to start with us… Not only accepting others and not shaming them but also being willing to put our own stuff out there and risking shame but even more so risking being excepted and loved for who we are with busts open the shame bubble.

    ( stepping down off the soapbox now… Clearly shame is a big trigger topic for me… ) 😊

    • Kayla Gulick February 18, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

      First let me respond to the dentist part (this is not the first time they have acted like this…. they do about ALL SORTS of things every time I’m in there.) The kids always go every six months. I schedule two chairs back to back so two kids go for 30 minutes and then the next two go right after. So each child only has to be patient (in separate rooms) for 30 minutes.

      I did say today “you know, with my husband working long hours, it’s not exactly feasible to pay for a babysitter so I can get my teeth cleaned.” Where would all four kids sit for an hour while they work on my teeth?

      Any way! I totally agree that shame is paralyzing and it’s a total catch between us being ashamed ourselves and not wanting others to know, but then getting together in gossip sessions and shaming others together. It’s so, so bad.

      I agree – change starts with us. Even if it’s a long, lonely road for awhile. Someone will eventually come along and be so thankful for real, accepted and genuine love. And desire to give it back.

  2. learning1 February 19, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    Hi Kayla,

    I just wanted to say thank you for the great example of shaming. I have learned that I don’t always say things in the best ways and I need more practice. It’s hard to know where I go wrong sometimes – but in reading this I started to really think about my kids and my husband especially. I am trying to change because I know I have been an overly “nice” person – until I get too upset – and then I say things much more harshly than needed. Shame can and has been used. :/ I think I’m just saying “the truth” but the “shoulds” and “oughts” (I’m learning) create laws/rules that just aren’t there on people under God. Personal opinion, often comes off with a trial and conviction in one statement, as though it were a real law! Tone, (as you mentioned!) plays a part too.
    There is tremendous power (of life and death) in our mouths and we just have no idea how very real that is!! Posts like this are a great wake up call and pointer to what this concept looks like in the everyday!
    If anyone struggles with this, the book “Telling Each Other The Truth” by William Backus has really been an eye-opener for me in seeing the effect of how we say things to each other!

    • Kayla Gulick February 20, 2016 at 6:40 am #

      I’m so glad this post spoke to you and thank you for sharing your thoughts back!

      It can be almost instinctive to shame and often because of our own opinion like you mentioned and that’s a great point to consider too. Not only, are we shaming with our words, but is this person even truly wrong according to scripture or according to me. Great thoughts!!

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