18th April, 2023

How to Stay Calm through Complaints (Even When It’s Personal)

With Dr Annalene Weston

Photo of Dr Annalene Weston

Listen to this episode

On this episode

Can you keep cool when you receive a complaint about your work?

Complaints are part and parcel of every profession. No matter how common they may be and how hard you work to avoid them, the anxiety that you’ll get one is always there. It’s even more nerve-wracking if you work in healthcare. Often, complaints come with threats of referral to a professional regulator. All of a sudden, your career might be on the line.

This week, Dr Annalene Weston of Dental Protection Australia joins us to discuss how to stop taking complaints personally. We talk about the thought process that comes with patient complaints and discuss strategies on how to depersonalise and best deal with them.

If you want to know the mindset shift that will change how you deal with complaints., listen to our full conversation in this episode of You Are Not a Frog.

Show links

About the guests

Dr Annalene Weston photo

Reasons to listen

  1. Learn the root of practitioners’ fear of receiving a complaint.
  2. Find out how you can shift your mindset around getting complaints.
  3. Discover the value of support when dealing with complaints inside and outside your control.

Episode highlights


Getting More Complaints in Healthcare


Getting Affected by Complaints Even When You’re Not at Fault


Fear of Complaint


Mindset Shift around Getting a Complaint


Understanding It from the Patient’s Point of View


Being Right vs Being Good in a Relationship


Dealing with Things Outside Your Control


Getting Struck Off


What Helps When Dealing with Complaints


How to Depersonalise Complaints


Annalene’s Top Three Tips in Dealing with Complaints


Forgive Yourself

Episode transcript

Rachel Morris: There’s one thing that humans in every profession, well, that I’ve come across, seem to fear more than anything else, and that’s getting a complaint. In healthcare, it’s doubly hard because complaints often come following a mistake or a negative, difficult outcome, and are often accompanied by the threat of referral to your professional regulator who could literally end your career.

No wonder we live in fear of them and do everything in our power to avoid getting one. The majority of complaints are out of our control, and any doctor, dentist, or healthcare practitioner is more likely than not to get one or more serious complaints in their lifetime. Given that everyone gets complaints and they are almost impossible to avoid, you’d think that would’ve worked out exactly how to deal with them by now without being crippled by anxiety and worry.

But I’m constantly seeing doctors whose lives are being ruined by complaints. The threat of complaints and the stress of practising in fear of complaints, which leaves them unable to say no, embrace their own limits, or even practise in a compassionate and sensible manner. In this episode, I’m joined by Annalene Weston, who is a dentist and also an advisor for dental protection.

We have a really interesting conversation about the sorts of complaints that are coming in right now and about her experiences of working very closely with practitioners who are going through the complaints process. She’s noticed that certain people seem to survive complaints much better than others, and deep dive into why this is.

This episode is for you if like the rest of the human race, you suspect that you may not handle the next complaint as well as you’d like to. Listen to find out why we are seeing a different type of complaint right now following Covid and why these are so difficult to deal with.

How to stop taking complaints so personally, even if they are totally personal. And the mindset shifts, which you need to make sure that your next complaint doesn’t ruin your life or end your career.

Welcome to You are not a Frog: The podcast for doctors and other busy professionals in high stress, high stakes jobs. I’m Dr. Rachel Morris, a former GP, now working as a coach, trainer, and speaker. Like Frogs in a pan of slowly boiling water, many of us don’t notice how bad the stress and exhaustion have become until it’s too late. But you are not a frog. Burning out or getting out, and not your only options. In this podcast, I’ll be talking to friends, colleagues, and experts, and inviting you to make a deliberate choice about how you live and work so that you can beat stress and work happier.

If you are a training manager or clinical lead, and your teams are under pressure and maybe even feeling overwhelmed, we’d love to share our Shapes Toolkit training with you.

Our practical tools are designed by a team of doctors and practitioners who know what it’s like to work in a stretched and overwhelmed system. With topics like how to take control of your time and workload, deal with conflicts, and managing stress. From team away days and half day sessions to shorter workshops and webinars, online or face-to-face.

We’d love to find out how we can help your team work calmer and happier. We work with primary care training hubs, ICs wellbeing teams, new to practise GP fellowships, hospital trusts, and lots of other healthcare providers with staff on the frontline. To find out more, drop us an email or request a brochure at the link below.

It’s wonderful to have with you back on my podcast today Annalene Weston. Annalene is a dentist. She’s also a dental legal consultant for Dental Protection Australia, and she works out of the Brisbane office. And Annalene, you would’ve heard from previously on our podcast about how to fail. So Annalene, it’s brilliant to have you back. Thanks for being here.

Annalene Weston: Thanks for having me again. I’m glad to be back.

Rachel: I just, I’m talking to you all the way from Australia where it’s 28 degrees where you are and about eight degrees where I am.

Annalene: Yeah and it’s six o’clock at night here as well, so it’s gonna be a hot sticky night, I think.

Rachel: Annalene has come back to talk to us about failing well, and why does it hurt so much to fail? Why do we hate it so much when we have complaints and how can we manage ourselves a little bit better so it just doesn’t feel like such a traumatic experience. Cause Annalene, we were chatting just before we started this podcast and you were telling me that you are seeing a lot of complaints at the moment that the level has gone up. What does that mean?

Annalene: Yeah, we are. Broadly, we always say when people ask us, ‘Are we busy?’. That’s the last thing you want is for your indemnity organisation to be busy. Because what that means is we are managing a lot of complaints. And at the moment, speaking from the position of Dental Protection Australia.

But I think it would be fair to say it’s probably something that’s happening globally. We are busy, we are seeing quite a high prevalence of patient complaints. Really that’s been going on since the global pandemic and it’s not slowing down.

Rachel: Are these normal complaints? Complaints you think, that’s reasonable. Are people making more mistakes or is there something else going on?

Annalene: There’s definitely something else going on. That’s a great question. We’re not seeing a higher error rate, interestingly, because you could think people have been burned out, people are struggling, as in practitioners are struggling, perhaps they’re making more mistakes. That’s certainly not in keeping with what we’re seeing.

What we’re seeing are more complaints that are slightly unusual and are reflective more of the state of mind of the patient, rather than what the practitioner is physically doing to them. Bearing in mind of course, that we are proceduralists by and large dental practitioners are proceduralists people come in and we do stuff to them.

That’s what we do. We’re very different to GPs. People come in, and yes, we diagnose. But essentially most patients come in and we provide some treatment, even if it’s just cleaning their teeth.

Rachel: When you say they’re slightly strange, are they complaints about something that they would never have complained about before, but actually they’ve got a point or are they completely bizarre indicating that just people are really completely stressed out and haven’t got a clue what’s going on?

Annalene: I think it’s a little bit from column A, but mostly from column B. I think that we’re certainly seeing patients complaining about stuff that previously wouldn’t have upset or affected them. Not all of the complaints are reasonable. And in fact, a lot of the complaints are, while everybody’s point of view is valid, they don’t feel very fair to the practitioner a lot of the time. Sometimes it’s due to things outside the practitioner’s control and some of the stuff is just really from left field and it’s quite wild.

The problems also coming that if you have, what I’d call a simple complaint. I do a procedure, the procedure fails, then you and I can work together with your indemnity to get that resolved, to reach an agreement, and then you go off and you get fixed and we all move forwards with our lives.

It’s not like that. It’s unusual stuff that you can’t fix because nothing was broken, and I’m just unhappy because I’m just unhappy and that makes it really hard. But also because I can’t find a resolution for you, the complaints aren’t going away.

Rachel: What do people want? Do they want the practitioner to suffer? To make up for the fact that they’re not getting exactly what they want or… It’s really hard from the point of a practitioner to think actually. What is it that people want with these complaints?

Are they using the practitioner’s medical dental practitioners to sort of blame for their general level of misery over the last few years? ‘Cause it has been really tough and it’s quite difficult just blaming it on a random act of God. Almost they need somewhere to put their anger and their distress and their disappointments.

Annalene: I feel it’s more that with collateral damage, Rachel, If I’m honest with you.

Rachel: Right.

Annalene: I don’t think that we are necessarily being blamed for anything. It’s a bit like walking into it or you know, being caught in the crossfire.

I think that these patients could have equally have been upset with the post office because a parcel had been lost. Or with the online grocery people because they substituted some items or whatever. I think it just happens to be the poor old practitioner who walked in front of the patient on that day.

I think we do need to also say, in absolute fairness, the people who are complaining, it’s because they’re not feeling good in themselves. They’ve had to deal with so much uncertainty as we all have. And we all have a different pressure point, don’t we? We all have a different moment at which it’s just too much, and it’s just unfortunate that you’re in that perfect storm moment or that storm in a tea cup moment maybe, where something happens in the surgery.

Often a communication breakdown we’re seeing as opposed to an actual, as I said, an actual mistake and the patient’s fuse is quite short, or the patient is just, they’re carrying so much mental load that that’s the moment that triggers them. Does that make sense?

Rachel: Yeah. That really does make sense. I guess what I’m curious about, and maybe what the nub of the whole thing is that, why do these things bother us so much? I can understand why you make a mistake, you accidentally cause harm. That really bothers you because we don’t want to cause harm, and everybody’s a good person.

I mean, I know we’d already done a podcast and lean on, you know, it’s normal to make mistakes. It is normal to fail, and we need to get over that. That’s one side. When you have made a mistake, you feel bad, and how do we just accept that that’s a normal bit of human behavior and that’s how we learn, et cetera.

But then there’s this other side of it when a patient complains and it’s completely left field. It’s completely bizarre. We haven’t actually done anything wrong. But still, we are so upset about it and we are so wanting to do everything we can to avoid this complaint because it almost bothers us as much as those ones where we have done something wrong. What’s going on there?

Rachel: I’ve always felt that when we harm someone, which as you’ve said is devastating. I mean, we talk about the second victim in any adverse outcome or incident, it hurts the patient. But my goodness, does it hurt that practitioner because they have to carry that on their conscience, which is just hideous for them. You know, and I’ve said this to you before, Rachel, the clues in the name were healthcare professionals.

Nobody gets up in the morning with the intent to harm another person, absolutely not. But at least we can reach some sort of restitution. If I’ve, taking a very simple example, if I were to pull out the wrong tooth on you, and bearing in mind I’m a dentist, so I do the wrong procedure.

While I can’t put that tooth back. I can substitute it and we can get you right. We can put you back to where you were before I made a mistake and I can apologise to you and hopefully you’ll accept that apology. While it’s always gonna hurt me, I know that you are okay now.

But in complaints where there’s no obvious underpinning cause particularly these communication errors, particularly if people are just being mean. It’s really hard because you can’t help but take it personally. But you also can’t fix it, you just can’t fix it.

I think sometimes practitioners feel that the patient doesn’t remember that they’re human too and that we’ve been going through the COVID pandemic also. We’ve also lost friends, and family members. We’ve lost opportunities.

I think that loss of opportunities really high where how many people didn’t get to see their baby be born, how many people didn’t get to be with their loved ones when they died? These are significant lost opportunities that people have experienced.

We are in this whirlwind, this vortex of uncertainty and I know that you guys are going through exactly the same thing. But energy bills going up and our rates have gone up again, all our interest rates have gone up, our mortgage rates have gone up, the cost of living is going through the roof and we’re all suffering through it together.

But sometimes I think the healthcare providers think, ‘‘Well, gosh, can’t you see that I’m a person too?’’

Rachel: Yeah. I’ve often seen on the various Facebook groups that I’m in for doctors. People saying, “Right, where do we go to complain about patients very well?” It’s this feeling that we just have to suck it up and always be the bigger person, which of course we do and that is called professionalism, isn’t it?

But I have noticed it just seems to be the biggest fear. I’ve been doing a lot of talks around the country about how to say no, set boundaries, and deal with pushback. Because in my opinion, working harder is not the way that we can deal with the excessive demand.

‘Cause literally healthcare practitioners at the moment are working as hard as they can. You can’t work any harder. There’s no more, there’s no more flex in the system and if you were to work harder, actually you’d be making far more mistakes. It just would be unsafe.

The only way we can actually cope is to start to say, “No, we will do this, but we won’t do that.” Here’s the boundary. This is what I can do, this is what I can’t do. My observation is that we don’t have a problem setting the boundaries because we actually know what they should be.

But the problem we have is when we get pushback from people or they say to us, “Well, I’m gonna complain.” And the biggest healthcare practitioners says, “What if I get a complaint?”

Annalene: The fear of a complaint is so powerful. Just to give you a little bit of, I guess, background of what a dental legal consultant does, I always say when I give presentations that I’m the person that you call on the worst day of your life.

What will happen is a patient will be harmed or a patient will complain and you know, that moment when it feels like someone’s dumped a bucket of ice in your stomach when you open an email or you get a letter from the regulator or from a lawyer and that feeling. The first thing that you’ll do once you’ve remembered to breathe is you’ll ring me and so I will be with you then on that journey, right the way through. That’s the really important part of my role.

Now, if it’s not a letter from the regulator, what we tend to find is the first thing that the practitioner is really frightened about, is this going to go to the regulator? People are really frightened about what that means, what that means for their registration.

Is it going to go into the public domain? Are other people going to know about this? It’s that fear, and that worry, “What’s going to happen to me?”

One of the first things, particularly with younger practitioners when they ring up and it can be something super small, but it’s the first time anything they’ve ever had to deal with that, I guess. Just because it’s small, it doesn’t mean it’s not important, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. But also for many of the young practitioners, they’ve never failed anything. They’ve never failed their driving test, they’ve never got a bad mark.

Then they get, for example, a bad review, a bad online review of the patient and they feel like it’s the end of the world, bless their heart, and they just don’t know what to do. Because they haven’t got the inbuilt, I guess, skillset to deal with that type of incident because it’s the first time they faced it. Particularly if what’s being said is unfair to them in their view, or if it’s not what they believe happened, their version of events, it’s really hard to rationalise it and work through it.

But the first thing, “Am I gonna be deregistered?” “Am I gonna be struck off for this”? It almost sounds laughable cause you’re like, it’s a bad online review, but to them it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in their life.

Rachel: That’s interesting, I guess that is the human brain’s natural capacity for catastrophizing about everything, isn’t it? I talk a lot about how to reduce stress and reduce anxiety and one of the warped thoughts, the direct… I was gonna say deranged ways of thinking, it’s not a deranged way of think, it’s actually quite a normal way of thinking, but one of the unhelpful ways of thinking is just thinking everything’s going to be much worse than it is cause actually, the large percentage of these complaints don’t result in people being struck off, do they?

Annalene: Oh, absolutely. I can’t talk about the stats in the UK where you are based. But in Australia you have, at the moment one in every 20 to 25 dental practitioners receives a complaint to the regulator annually, which is high. Certainly a lot higher than it was, but also it has been higher at times.

We’ll take our one in 25 and we’ll be grateful for that. But of course, bearing in mind, fewer patients have been seen in the last 12 months because we’ve had covid lockdowns where patients weren’t allowed to be seen with something called aerosol generating procedures, which is what dental practice does.

Fewer patients have been seen but have generated the same ratio of complaints, which of course actually means more people have complained. But out of that, something like two-thirds of complaints in Australia are actually dismissed on the first pass. The regulator will dismiss them with no further action quite quickly.

But then of course, that one-third that go into investigation, those are the ones that, yes, severe things can happen. De-registration or suspension, highly unlikely. But the investigations can go on for two or three years sometimes. The regulators trying to do something to bring those times down, but it’s a long time to have that hanging over you with an uncertain outcome.

Rachel: That’s the rub of it, isn’t it? How do you manage to keep your cool even in that? Because it seems like such a random turn of events and I remember the complaints I always had were not the patients that I’d made the biggest mistakes on, they really weren’t. They were the patients that I maybe had not communicated with well enough, or someone I’d done everything I could for, it is a very, very random thing that then seems to take over your life for two or three years.

It just strikes me that we are letting these random events or these random decisions by other people over which we have no control, to then dictate how we feel about ourselves, about our practice for the next two or three years. The constant question I come back to is “What can we do about ourselves to just stop it being such a horrendous experience for ourselves?” Is there some sort of mindset shift? What have you noticed that helped?

Annalene: I think that there is a mindset shift, but I think that many practitioners, when they receive a complaint, from my experience, they’ll come at it from one of two positions. They’ll either be super angry or upset and be like, “This is so unreasonable, this is so… I didn’t do anything wrong.” They’ll be defensive like attacking defensive, I dunno if you’ve experienced this too. Or they’ll be self-flagellating, “I’m the worst person in the world. Take my licence, take me out the back and shoot me. That’s all I’m good for.” They tend to be quite extremes. We don’t often have somebody ring up and say, this patient’s made a complaint and it’s actually really reasonable.

Now, that does happen, we do have people who ring up and they say, I dropped the ball on this and I want to help this patient. Those are normally people who’ve been able to move through all those emotional stages quite quickly or if they know in their own heart that things really didn’t go well at that point in time and they want that restitution, they want to fix that patient.

Because as I’ve said, we are healthcare providers. I think, I guess the first thing is really getting a mindset and realising that while it is very personal, it isn’t personal. It sounds a bit mean, but the patient doesn’t actually care if they’ve hurt your feelings. But what you have to remember is that when a patient made a complaint about you, they felt strongly enough about it. Because it’s not easy to make a complaint. We’re all quite time poor, it takes time and it’s easier now, It’s online, of course, now it’s an online form.

Everything’s so much easier. Perhaps you could say that when you can hide behind an online form, maybe you say things you wouldn’t say to someone’s face, perhaps. I mean, internet trolls are a known phenomenon. Maybe there’s a touch of that, I don’t know. But you have to remember that you were the first thing that patient’s been thinking about every morning and the last thing that patient’s been thinking about every night, and that you’ve been what they’ve talked about over the dinner table.

This is particularly prevalent if the issue is with the treatment of a child. Because you can have a young child, an 8 year old or a 10 year old who’s old enough to understand what’s going on, and it’s all mom and dad talk about over breakfast. Mom’s crying, dad’s angry, and how that child feels and how that patient feels. They’re pushed, they feel pushed to make that complaint sometimes.

I think if you can remember that, no matter how unfair it feels, then you can start to get to the place of the practitioner saying, “I just want to get it right.” The other thing is, we have to put our impatience to one side.

I’m a very impatient person, I’m all very everything. I can’t be done quickly enough for me. I move across things terribly quickly. But if it’s gonna take three years for a complaint, I can’t rush that along and just because I know what needs to happen now to fix it, it doesn’t mean that the regulator’s gonna necessarily accept that or that the patient is as well.

I think that every complaint is a lesson in patience and I think it’s important to reflect on it and remember, try and remember it from that patient’s point of view. Because I do think it helps with the anger that you feel, but also, I don’t know, it just helps to remember that they’re a person too, perhaps.

Rachel: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you’ve talked about it being personal because it does feel so intensely personal. Like you said, yes, they’re talking about you, it’s all about you. But actually it’s not personal. It’s not really about you as a person, it’s about the practitioner who may or may not have done something which they didn’t like the outcome of, right?

They are railing against a version of you that they have created. This Rachel the dentist or Rachel the GP, but it’s nothing to do with you as a mother or as a human being or as a…

Annalene: No, absolutely.

Rachel: They sort of built this thing up. The problem is when we take it as it is me. And yes, it sort of is you, but actually it’s, it’s that tiny bit of the practitioner. It’s interesting you say this Annalene, I was watching a TED talk recently, I put it out on my Facebook group, so I thought it was quite useful. It was “How not to take things personally” the title of the TED talk was, and this guy had trained as a referee in order to learn how not to take things personally. I don’t know about Aussies, but in the UK, they’re not that polite to referees when you play soccer.

This guy had said, right, he was a coach, he said, but he did take a lot of criticism, a lot of everything personally. He said, right, “I’ve trained as a referee because everyone shouts at the referee. People don’t agree with your decisions. They don’t like what you do. It can have quite a big outcome.

You know, so there’s all this, “A ref is blind. youlipping idiot, blah, blah, blah.” He says, “I need to learn not to take this personally.” And as a ref, I know that they are seeing me, the referee, and they might not agree with what I wanted because it was a different outcome to what they wanted.

But it’s been really helpful in life because you just get into that mindset of, “Well I have done that, I’ve made that decision. It might not be right, it might not be what they wanted, but it has happened”. Now, I know that is way away from making a medical error. But I thought, well, that’s really interesting.

He ended up talking in this TED talk about, well actually there are two things that happens when anybody shouts at you or criticizes you. One is, it’s not about you. The one is, it’s all about them and what’s going on in their lives and their heads, and yet they want their team to win. When shouting for a penalty and saying that you are rubbish ref, it’s just cause they want their team to win. It’s about them.

The second one though, it is about you. Actually you have made the wrong decision there, whatever. But even if it is about you, the question is, “Okay, how can I learn from this?” Every referee will make some wrong calls because you can’t possibly know everything that’s gone on in a match. You can’t get eyes absolutely everywhere.

I thought, okay, that is really, really quite helpful. But then it’s just, I guess applying it to us when we get the complaint, which could have a very severe consequence for us.

Is that a helpful analogy or not, do you think?

Annalene: No, I think so, I do think it’s helpful, and I think you’re right. It’s an aspect of your personality that sometimes has been grafted onto the situation or gleaned, because of course we all have more than one version of ourselves. The person I take to show my patients is very different to the person that my family sees.

Because you have to have that professional persona or demeanour. You can’t, you know, there are patients at the end of the day and we are in a trusted position. They’re not, it’s not the same as going down the pub with our mates and it, and nor should it be. I do wonder though, Rachel, and I’m interested to know what you think about this.

I think sometimes complaints hurt and I’m reflecting on a complaint that was made about me. Where the patient said that I’d lied, and it really hurt my feelings because, and I saw you winced then. Cause you can imagine, you know me well enough to know, that how much that would’ve hurt because of course I think I feel the need to say it, although there is no need to say it.

I hadn’t lied or misled, of course I hadn’t. But my values are very much to be transparent and honest. That complaint hurt me more and when I sat and reflected on it, the only thing the patient could have said that would’ve been more hurtful is if they’d called me a bad mother. That’s the only thing they could have said. That would’ve hurt me more than calling me a liar.

It rocked me because it is not who I am. I could understand it from their point of view. But then of course you start, “Well, what, what did I miss?” Because that’s a communication breakdown right there. If they’re saying that you’ve lied or withheld or misled, then that’s a breakdown in communication.

Then I started going through all my correspondence and then you start going, “Well look, yes, cause I told, I there and look and you know, and I said it there.” It kind of makes you feel better, but it doesn’t because it doesn’t change the way the patient thinks.

And that person still thinks I’m a big old liar. That’s probably when they, when they see my name or hear my name, that’s the word that they associate with me. What do you think, do you think that it’s value aligned as well? Or do you think it was just value aligned for me on that occasion? Which is fine too.

Rachel: That’s really interesting. Nobody likes to be called a liar. I think probably. It’s horrible. I mean, even just think back to conversations, I have maybe in my family about, “Okay, so are you picking so and so up tonight?” “No, you never told me. I did tell you.” “No you didn’t. I’ve got the email to prove it.”

No one likes to be called a liar.

I think that’s a fairly universal thing. But while you were saying that, I was thinking to myself, why does it hurt us so much? Because, yes, it is against your values. Everybody wants to be, well, I hope everybody in healthcare wants to have integrity, and to me, integrity is being a hundred percent honest.

Meaning what you say, saying what you mean. And that’s just a hard line for me. But if someone accuses me of lying, I mean, that’s not my thing. That’s their thing that’s in their head. There’s a lovely quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Annalene: That’s true.

Rachel: If someone walked up to me in the street who didn’t know me and said, “You’re a liar.” I’d be like, “Yeah, Well, you don’t know me. What is it to you? You have no idea who I am. You don’t know.” Because you’ve treated that patient, their impression is that you’re alive.

They may have misunderstood, probably have misunderstood something you’ve done, but it’s the same thing. Well, okay, you are saying I’m a liar. I know that I didn’t lie, so why are we still beating ourselves up so much about it when we know it’s not true?

Either it’s then triggered something where you may not have disclosed as much as you wanted to, perhaps. I don’t know. I’m just wondering because what I’m thinking through is when criticism really hurts is when there’s a tiny grain of truth in it, I find.

Annalene: With this particular thing, the reason that it hurts so much is because there was nothing I could say or do that would change that person’s point of view of me. I could have pulled out all the correspondence and, sorry to use this phrase, but rubbed their nose in it and said, “No, if you read your emails,” but respectfully Rachel who wins in that situation.

I had to make a choice between being right and being good. That was really hard because I chose not to enter into the argument with that patient. I’ve obviously apologised for the way that they fell and reattached the appropriate correspondence and offered them a second opinion and did all the things I needed to do because I’m a professional and it’s important. If that’s the way that person feels, it’s important I put things right with them.

But the reality of it is, Rachel is what I wanted to do is say, “How dare you say that about me. You are wrong. I’m right. I can prove it, and I want an apology from you.” But you can’t get into that type of interaction with a patient because as you said earlier, we are professionals, but also the patient does not have to come to see my point of view.

Even if they do, they certainly don’t have to tell me. It’s that dissatisfaction of knowing that in any other walk of life, you would set the record straight. But in this walk of life, I get to be called names, which to be childish, hurt my feelings and I can’t defend myself. You think then I mentioned Google Reviews, you think about people who say mean things in online reviews.

The practitioner can’t say, well, actually I think we would both agree. They can’t have that conversation in a public forum. They can’t. They have to just sit there and take it. I understand what you’re saying about the kernel of truth and if I’m, I guess honest with myself, I knew it was a communication breakdown.

I was like, “What haven’t I explained clearly? Have I not disclosed something fully?” When I realised I had, there was that moment of relief and then that moment of anger, “How can you be so wrong?” “How dare you call me names?” And it took me a little while to come through that and go, okay, you’ve got two choices, Annalene, you can be right. But last time I checked, nobody ever won an argument with a patient. Not really.

Rachel: But I think that’s good advice for life as well. I mean, I remember hearing some, seriously, some relationship advice about arguing in a relationship. Like, you can be right and you can win every argument, but your relationship is not gonna last.

Some people are really good at arguing and can always out logic you and out win every argument. But what happens in a relationship when you are having an argument with your other half?

If they win the argument because they are right, does the other one think, “Oh, well done. You’re right, you’re right. That’s brilliant.” Okay, the relationship is repaired. No, the other one thinks, “Oh, you just go off completely resentful. Okay, well you might think you’re right, but I’m just gonna.” And your fault, right?

It’s much better for someone just to go, “Okay, look, this doesn’t, okay, I’m really sorry for anything I’ve done that hurt you. Let’s leave it there and let’s repair the relationship.”

It was interesting also what you said, that this doesn’t happen in any other area of life, apart from healthcare where we can’t argue back with a patient. But I would argue that in business, if you have clients and they say to you, “You booked it here and you said this date, and we know that we said another date.”

Well, if I went back to the person and went, “No, hang on. We’re right. We said this date, you, you, I can show the whole email trail, blah, blah, blah.” You won’t keep that client very long.

Annalene: You don’t make any friends that way, do you?

Rachel: You don’t, you just have…

Annalene: But it’s hard.

Rachel: Yeah, it is really hard. You just have to say, “Oh, no worries, but we can adapt. That’s totally fine.” You try and keep the relationship not being right all the time.

Even, you know, we were talking earlier about being mothers and not wanting to be accused of being a bad mother. Like you said, like if I was right with my kids all the time. I mean, I am right with my kids. When my children start arguing, when I ask them to empty the dishwasher or do that or whatever. I could argue and be right the whole time, that’s not gonna help the relationship with my kids.

Sometimes I just need to absorb their angst about doing stuff and let them believe that they’re right, because actually to argue with them and to prove how right I am isn’t gonna, isn’t gonna help. Actually, I just wonder whether this whole being right thing in life is not that helpful. What are your thoughts?

Annalene: No, I agree. I don’t think it’s helpful at all, and I agree with what you’re saying about the kids. I actually apologise to my children if I’m wrong. And people find that extraordinary. My children are 10 and 12, but I will apologise to them if I make a mistake or if I don’t bring the best version of myself into our relationship that day, for whatever reason because I think it’s really important.

How can I expect them to grow up to be thoughtful, insightful, reflective individuals who take responsibility for their actions if I don’t take responsibility for mine? It feels weird sometimes apologising to a 10 year old, but you know what? I’m not right all the time. What do they learn? What do they learn about? You’ve become like a dictator, don’t you?

Rachel: You do.

Annalene: Does that help?

Rachel: I’m constantly apologising to my kids. Not because I’m wrong, but because I might react badly to when they’ve been really thoughtless or whatever. My apologies are, I’m really sorry, I reacted like that. You know, I should, even though I know I’m right about something. I think there’s always something you can apologise for, to try and repair the relationship, isn’t there?

Annalene: There is. Just completing the loop on this complaint, I never heard back from that person. I don’t know if they accepted my apology. I don’t know if they came to see my point of view or if they’re still out there thinking that I’m a liar. But by the same respect, what I do know is that they didn’t follow through with things like, for example, their threat to the regulator.

Now, interestingly, I wasn’t concerned about that because of the line of work that I’m in. I know what the process looks and feels like, so I knew what would be likely to happen. I had the documentation. I think, Rachel, this is, whenever we talk about any patient interaction. The documentation, when you come to explain what’s happened to the regulator, it’s a little bit of an unsung hero.

On the one hand, I feel like we talk about dental records all the time. I feel like it’s all I talk about. But then on the other hand, I think that as proceduralist dental practitioners are incredibly good at writing down what we do. And yet we’re horrible at writing down the conversations that we have with patients.

That’s where the contentious moments are. It’s not how good my filling is, it’s the conversation I had with the patient about what I thought might happen or what I thought could go wrong. This was an occasion where I knew that the communications and correspondence that I had supported, that the information had been provided in an appropriate and meaningful way. That actually didn’t frighten me. It upset me that I had upset another person.

It was about me, It was about, “Oh, how can you possibly think this about me?” But the reality of it is, I hated thinking that, that I was the last person that person thought about it. Like, and the first thing that person thought about in the morning. That really troubled me because I would never want to impact someone’s life in that way.

I should have, I should have communicated better. The communication that I’d put to that person in writing obviously wasn’t the correct way for that person to receive the information, because if it had been, they wouldn’t have felt that I’d, they wouldn’t have felt the need to make a complaint, but that comes with time .

Rachel: Yeah. Oh gosh. In hindsight, you know, the retrospect escape is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Okay.

Annalene: 2020 hindsight, my friend.

Rachel: Yeah. Obviously that I didn’t communicate quite right because actually I should have known that. I should have maybe written it in the sky with an aeroplane or something like that, you know?

Annalene: That’s right.

Rachel: Next time that’s what I’ll do, which is fair enough. We can always learn something in hindsight. But that’s, and this is where self-compassion comes and goes, you know what, oh, it’s okay that I didn’t do that quite right because we all make mistakes. But I think it’s this problem with people pleasing. It’s this thing that we always want other people to be thinking well of us.

I think people pleasing sounds, it sounds a bit pathetic, really. I want you to think well of me. But it’s not that. It’s like you said, I really feel bad that someone else is upset with me. ‘Cause I know that they’re hurting. I know that they’re hurt and I would never want to inflict that. The problem is, that is completely outside your zone of power. It’s outside your control. You can do nothing about that, right?

Annalene: You’re so right. What was interesting is that I think particularly in my line of work, it’s really good to go through that yourself because you remember how the people on the end of the phone are feeling, so you know, we can take learning from it as well.

I’m so lucky that that happened to me that day. It’s hard to remember that there are things inside my control and things outside my control. I found that really difficult and some of what I found interesting is sometimes your first response isn’t the best response as well. Not just your angry response, but also sometimes, do you find you can get like a pleading response?

Please, please don’t be angry. Please listen to me please see my side of the story. That doesn’t help either cause you’re giving, I’m not giving your power away. But do you know what I mean? Basically saying to that person, please just make me feel worse.

Rachel: You aren’t giving your power away because you’re saying, my happiness if I will be okay or not depends on you accepting this or not. Whereas actually, the only way you are gonna be okay about this Annalene, is that… you can’t change the patient, can you, is you accepting it, is you accepting yourself and saying this has happened and it’s okay for someone to think I’m the most heinous human being in the world. I can’t say anything about that, but I know that I’m not.

Annalene: That’s right. The people who matter, because that’s what… I know that you have a family as well. You know, you read countless hours of Dr. Seuss to your children because it’s rhythmic and the kids love it. I remember reading those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

I thought that’s so true because if you can’t, I don’t know, accept me for who I am. Using that as an example, if you’re going to judge me for things that I say and I do. If you’re going to, you know, not want to be my friend, if we’re going to put it in child-like terms, then I can’t control that. That doesn’t matter because the people who do matter, they don’t mind. They know that you are who you are and they don’t mind if you make mistakes. I’ll forgive you for those mistakes.

If you are really lucky, they’ll bring them to your attention because they care about you enough to say, “Hey, on this occasion you didn’t bring the best version of yourself today.” It’s something that I think it’s really important with my support staff in practice.

I’ve tried to empower them all to give me feedback. It’s hard cause you know, you don’t like hearing it when you’ve been a bit rubbish and they don’t like telling you because they like you. But I see them as being a really important safety checker in my surgery.

If they feel a patient hasn’t understood an interaction, then them actually saying to me, “Hey, I don’t think that Mr. So-and-So really got that.” Or writing it down on a post-it note for me and giving me that prompt because I’ve missed something. Particularly if I’ve got my loops on, I don’t know if you’ve seen dentist who wears these magnifiers, which means that the patient becomes like this cube, this mouth-shaped cube, there’s all this other rest of the patient that you can’t see.

There could be all sorts going on there really. The dental assistant’s got that holistic oversight and even to the point where I completely expect my dental assistant to do stuff like when I’m taking out a tooth, I tell them the tooth I’m taking out and I expect them to have a look and check that I’ve actually got the forceps on the right tooth and I would not expect my dental assistant to sit back and watch me do the wrong thing.

All my staff are empowered to say, “Hey”, they do it in a slightly nicer way. They don’t go “Annalene, no!” Like, it’s slightly less dramatic than that, but to try and actually get them to say on this occasion, you know, things weren’t great.

Rachel: That’s so important, it’s just bringing me back to the thinking about why we find it so difficult to cope with these really prolonged complaints. Because I guess when you think about what is the worst that could happen.

Well, the worst that could happen is that I am struck off and can never practise again. Now, that is really unlikely to happen, even if you have done something really bad. I’m told by contacts at the GMC, that you’ll only be struck off if you have done something illegal. You know, premeditated, you have no insight and you’re a psychopath. I mean, I don’t know if that’s the same in your country.

Analnie: Yeah, yeah. Generally it’s the sexy stuff and it’s the fraud stuff. That’s generally, those are the things that are gonna get you in trouble. Yeah, and that they’re gonna lead to your deregistration. As you say, criminal acts.

Rachel: Criminal acts. And if you have done something particularly bad but not a criminal act, and you show that you’ve got insight and done some retraining, then the worst that can happen is that you are suspended for a few months and have to go for some retraining and stuff like that.

I guess what we worry about is “What will everybody else think of me?” “What will other people think? Because I’ve been suspended or whatever.”

Annalene: I think the problem is, it doesn’t affect how we feel about ourselves as well though. Because if you’ve always driven to be the best practitioner that you can be, or you believe your skill is, I do really good X, Y, or Z, and then you fail on that.

A lot of people there, not persona, that’s not the right word, but their whole self concept is really deeply rooted in the fact that they’re a healthcare practitioner. When that’s impacted or rocked, it affects not, it just really affects their whole sense of self, their whole sense of self worth.

If you think that suspension is the worst thing that can happen to you, and that other people are gonna judge you on that, and they’re going to think that you’re not a good practitioner and that you’re not a good person, then whether or not people do think that that’s your belief. You are locked into that now, and it is gonna really affect the way that you feel.

But you’re right, if you didn’t care what other people thought, thought in that regard, and you thought, “Well, I’m not a bad person and I’m not a bad practitioner. I just had a bad day.” It’s gonna be a lot easier to move through that. But Rachel, honestly, I don’t know how you get there.

Rachel: Yeah, I guess that’s my question there, because no one would obviously want that. But I guess there are some people that deal with it better than others, right?

Annalene: For sure.

Rachel: In your clients that you have seen deal with it better, what do they do that helps them deal with that uncertainty and that concern about what other people think better than other people?

Annalene: I think from my experience. Practitioners who are well supported, so people who are able to talk to their family or their friends or whether they have a group, whether it be a religious group that they’re part of or a social group and they’re able to actually talk about it meaningfully.

Nothing frightens me more, Rachel, than when we have somebody who’s in quite a lot of trouble actually, and their partner doesn’t know, or their parents don’t know and they’re going through it alone because they haven’t got that support. You feel like for that person, I wonder if every day they feel like they’re living a bit of a lie.

I just wonder, I haven’t asked them because I don’t want to obviously ultimately it’s up to them how they deal with it. But I notice that practitioners who are well supported, so their family and friends know, their partner knows what’s going on, they’re able to perhaps rationalise it a little bit better.

If they can rationalise it and their whole self-worth isn’t pivoting on this one event, they seem to be able to weather that storm a little bit better. I think that’s where it looks like for me. I think that support definitely. I think being able to make it right in some way seems to really be able to help people.

That’s why it’s easier actually, if it is a mistake, because you can put a mistake, right. You can apologise, you can move on. Whereas these communication breakdowns and like funny things that we’re seeing, strange things, you kind of can’t put that right and that’s part of the problem cause they just hang over you and you’re in this vortex of uncertainty, which is just a miserable place to be.

But yeah, I think being able to put it right and having support, I think support’s really important. I I can say it frightens me when I see practitioners. I’m supported.

Rachel: Yeah and you can imagine, you know, I can imagine if a GP, you know, we’ve all been GPS with complaints hanging over us. I do know one of my colleagues had a particularly nasty complaint that had been referred to the GMC and stuff. It really affected him and you know, there was no way he was gonna be struck off. There was no way he was gonna be suspended.

It was really obvious, probably to everybody else, maybe not to him. But actually just talking about it and having people saying, You know, we’ve got your back. You know, we don’t think any differently of you. Let’s just sort of get through this together. I think would’ve been much more helpful to him than no one knowing about it. Or as you do sometimes see in practices.

I guess probably though with the more criminal aspects, you know, the doctor gets suspended and then that’s it. Nobody will talk to him cause fear of the ramifications. It’s tricky, isn’t it? But you’re right. If it’s in the open anyway, so everybody knows about it, then maybe that fear of what will people think of me is less anyway, right?

Annalene: Yeah, I think so because people will tell you what they think of you, but also you do get that opportunity to be heard and for people to hear your version of events or your side of the story. Because I feel that sometimes, again, going back to those online reviews, is that not the problem is that you can’t put your side of the story over, you can’t be heard. Whereas if you’ve got colleagues and you can explain, I mean.

I know a colleague that genuinely pulled the wrong tooth out recently. I was on holiday and they contacted me to tell me, because they wanted me to know, not because they, it meant anything to, because of the line of work that I’m in. They just felt that they wanted me to know, you know, wanted to tell me. When I spoke to them about it, they were just really tired and they made a mistake. But what they were looking for from me is they were looking for me to tell them it was okay.

They were looking for forgiveness because they needed me, I think, to say it is okay, you’ve made a mistake, we will get it fixed. But like they needed, yeah, they needed forgiveness. They needed compassion, they needed me to tell them it was okay. Fascinating and then they felt bad about contacting me on holiday and I was like, “It’s fine, you can talk to me anytime. It’s all good”.

Rachel: You do that for anyone, wouldn’t you? Because you know how helpful it would be if someone else did that for you. Actually, you know, whenever you hear about someone going through the complaints process or a mistake that someone’s made, my first thought is never, “Oh, aren’t they a dreadful doctor?” My first thought is, “Oh my goodness. Poor thing. There but for the grace of God, go I.”

Annalene: I was gonna say, and that’s your second thought.

Rachel: Yes.

Annalene: Your second thought is, that could be me. Because the reality of it is, we all know that any of us can be hit with a rogue complainer any time. You know, you were saying about malicious or vindictive complaints. They do exist. It would be unreasonable to overplay that cause they’re not everywhere, but they do happen absolutely. We all know that, we all make mistakes.

We all have days where our computer system’s on the fritz and our dental assistant’s sick and we’ve got a temp on that we don’t know. You know, all these things are going on and the more of these variables that are introduced, the more likely it is that we are going to make an error. Even if that error is just a breakdown in communication, we all have days where we snap. We don’t mean to.

Rachel: Yeah. Oh, totally. I mean, whenever I hear about anybody who’s been severely ill being admitted to hospital, my first question to them is, “What were their symptoms? What were their first symptoms that they had?”

Annalene: That’s right.

Rachel: Because I know that I may well have missed those, those very first symptoms and been a person who delayed the admission or whatever, because it’s so hard.

Annalene: It’s a near miss, Rachel. Every time you hear about something happening to a colleague, that is the equivalent of a near miss for you and that’s why I think it’s really important that we do talk about these things.

Rachel: Yes.

Annalene: Because you can get learning from other people’s near misses. It goes both ways. If we talk about my mistake or my complaint, I’m going to feel better. You are going to help me move through that because you’re gonna give me advice, you’re gonna give me feedback, you’re gonna give me comfort.

You’re gonna reassure me that I’m not a horrible person, I’m not a bad dentist, and that you’re not gonna label me. You’re gonna help me come to a place of acceptance a lot quicker. But conversely, the next time you are faced with whatever the circumstances were, you are gonna just think that a little bit harder. The incorrect tooth extractions are classic. Because if you hear about someone else doing it, it is the equivalent of you almost doing it yourself.

Rachel: Yeah. So just talking about these things more and more. I mean, we are nearly out of time, but I mean, I’m just reflecting on the fact that it would be lovely if we were just talking about those things that occasionally happened to healthcare professionals.

But you can probably guarantee that you’re gonna get complaints in your lifetime as a healthcare professional. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’re gonna make mistakes. We know that the level of stress and burnout is already incredibly high in healthcare professionals.

Then if you layer having a few complaints on top of it, it’s even higher. My thoughts are if we can just try and reduce the stress that people go through when they are having to be patient over a two, three year process sometimes, then that’s got to be good for everybody and from our conversation to me, it seems to be all about a bit of self-compassion for yourself.

A bit of communication with your colleagues so they can just support you and just offer a bit of, “You know what, that would’ve happened to me. Oh my gosh, well done, you are doing a great job. Keep going.” Failure is normal. What can you do to put it right, et cetera. A bit of insight and learning, but the big thing seems to be the depersonalization, the realising that it doesn’t directly mean that you are a dreadful human being and that other people are not also going to think that you are a dreadful human being.

Annalene: That’s right. That’s absolutely right. People aren’t gonna assume that you deserve the complaint, quite the opposite. They’re gonna probably assume that you didn’t and that’s not to devalue the patient’s point of view, of course, because there’s learning in everything. I think sometimes we try and move through these things a little bit too quickly as well.

The learning doesn’t come till much later sometimes when we’re out of that stress fog. But there is learning and reflection there as well, there is. But that’s not where we need to go first. First, we just need to hug it out and just get through.

Rachel: Then I think depersonalising is really important. There’s a phrase that they use in the book Getting to Yes, actually, which is all about negotiation.

The first step of good negotiation is separate the person from the problem. If we can separate the patient and separate you as a practitioner and just look at the problem, not “They accuse me of that and I didn’t lie in this”, that actually the problem, like you said in your thing, was the problem that the patient felt that they were not told all that they wanted to be told about this procedure.

That is just a very factual thing. It’s no judgement on you, It’s no judgement on them. Is there a way in which you have found it easier to depersonalise stuff?

Annalene: Not so much because I take everything very personally. To be honest with you, I can be quite oversensitive. For me it’s just time. I guess it’s more not pulling these things out late at night to flagellate yourself with when you’re actually supposed to be sleeping. It’s more not focusing on it and just repeating or reminding myself that it isn’t anything personal.

I think using the example that I gave, interestingly, being right gave me no comfort. Isn’t that fascinating? You’d think that, that validation of being right would give me no comfort. What gave me comfort was the fact that when I spoke to other people around it, everybody around me believed it to be completely outrageous because it’s not the person they know me to be. That was more comforting.

Talking about it with others was certainly helpful, but uh, no, I take everything terribly personally. Rachel. It’s one of my biggest weaknesses. What can I say? We’re talking about it all today, aren’t we?

Rachel: Well, we are, but you know what? I don’t think it’s a big weakness. I just think it’s normal. I think it’s a normal human thing because, you know, when we look at the neuroscience of it, the mix of it is incredibly sensitive to what other people think of you.

Obviously we’re sensitive to, are we just about to be eaten by a lion and are we being challenged by the hierarchical male? Because those are survival things as well. But when we lived in caves, if the group didn’t like us and we got kicked out, we would die. We would die of exposure being eaten by lions.

It is an existential threat people thinking badly of us and we respond in that way. The patient thinking badly of us, our perception that our colleagues are thinking badly of us is an existential threat. Like you said, we can’t control what the patient thinks about us. We can do our best to communicate and to, you know, maybe not always be right, but just try to put it right.

But talking to our colleagues and getting their support, like you said, that reduces that threat of my colleagues are gonna think dreadfully of me, et cetera, et cetera, then maybe reduces the threat that we feel overall.

Then there’s that really practical stuff you said, like, don’t look at this late at night. You know, distract yourself, read a decent book. Think about that, this is not a personal thing. This is their thing. It’s not personal. Yes, I might have been the person that made that mistake or that they have complained about, but it is more about them than me. I think there’s another mantra that I quite like, which is this, this will pass.

Annalene: Oh, absolutely. My mother-in-law says that all the time, “This too will pass.” I remember when I had the children and they were very small and how challenging that was. She would use that phrase a lot and it’s so true. It is, all these things pass.

Rachel: What would your three tips be to make it her slightly less when we are going through something like this?

Annalene: Probably your first reaction is not the right one. By that, if your first reaction is gonna be to go back and check your records, that’s fine. I’m not talking about that reaction. But your first reaction, if it’s very angry or very hurt, that’s not the place that you wanna stay in cause that’s not gonna help you resolve the complaint and it’s not gonna help you move forward

I would say never underestimate the importance of your documentation in supporting your point of view, particularly if it is to a critical third party like the regulator or a lawyer. What you said, if you can’t evidence that through your treatment notes, it’s really difficult for your point of view to be heard or to be supported. So don’t underestimate that. Like I say, I feel like we talk about records all the time, but it’s because they’re so very important.

Then I guess my third one would be that support. Don’t underestimate the value of support. Because not only can we learn from each other’s mistakes and you could save a colleague going through exactly what you’re going through. In fact, you’re gonna improve patient safety outcomes if you talk about these things.

But your colleagues actually, you’ll be surprised how they’ll rally around you and help you through this really, really difficult time. I just think that making a mistake or having a complaint that doesn’t define you. It’s one moment.

I sometimes say to the practitioners when they ring. Imagine a set of scales and all the people you’ve done awesome work for and all the people you’ve helped. Then the one complaint. Why does the one complaint have to weigh more? It’s such a simple concept, and we know that, but why does that one complaint mean so much more to us than all the other people that we’ve helped?

Only you as a practitioner can rebalance those scales. Only you can start to look at those good stuff, but I think the people around you can help if you let them.

Rachel: Yeah, definitely. They’re the first people that say to you, “Look, come on, look what you’ve done here. Look what you’ve done there. This is a negative bias that we have, we only ever remember the negative piece that we get” and all that. You are so right.

Yeah, from what you’ve been talking about, I would say, yeah. My three tips. First one, it’s not about winning, it’s not about being right or vindicating yourself because you may have someone that never accepts that you’ve won or you’ve been right.

Number two is often, it’s not about you even though it is about you, but it’s not about you as a person. It’s about this sort of fictitious image of the practitioner. Depersonalise it and if you can separate the problem from the person, even better. And I loved what you said, so my number three would be those that matter, don’t mind.

Those people that matter to you will completely accept it, even if you actually really have made that mistake and done something really bad. Most people will forgive you and understand why it’s happened and be really supportive. Talking and getting that out as soon as possible with people can only be good, right?

Annalene: Oh, absolutely. And sometimes it can help to look at your intention. I know that sounds like a really silly thing, but we often say to practitioners, there’s a big difference between doing the wrong thing unknowingly or unwittingly and intentionally doing the wrong thing.

Because if you unknowingly or unwittingly or make a mistake or you didn’t know that, you’d said and done the wrong thing, that’s, you know, you didn’t mean to, your intention was good. Bear in mind, we go in as healthcare workers to help people. Your intention is good. Whereas if your intention is poor, that’s a whole different thing, remembering that intention, I think that really helps as well.

Rachel: I think that’s a great place to finish. I think that’s really helpful, Annalene. And I know that we are not gonna solve this and people still will be troubled by complaints.

But if we can just lower that level of trouble and people thinking, actually this is gonna pass. I just need to be patient, I’ve got the support around me, and actually it’s normal to have complaints, I’m probably gonna get one. “Oh look, it’s happened, right? What can I do to survive this as well as I can?”

Annalene: It’s called comfort. But if you’re the subject of a complaint, just remember that there are hundreds and thousands, if not, millions of health practitioners all around the world who’ve received a complaint today as well. They’re all going through exactly the same feelings as you’re going through. Not only are you not alone because you’re supported, but you’re not alone because while it feels personal and isolating, there are many other people going through exactly what you’re going through as well. It’s called comfort, but it’s some comfort to know that it’s not just you.

Rachel: I guess the other thing is you only get one life. If you are gonna spend all that time and mental energy on something that you can’t change, that you’ve just gotta be patient for, then it’s this sort of decision. “Okay, now I’m gonna focus on it for a bit”, and then I’m gonna move on and enjoy my life and do really my best for the patients that we know we can do.

Annalene: Absolutely.

Rachel: It’s tricky.

Annalene, thank you. We’ve gone way over time, but it’s been so wonderful to talk to you. I think we’re gonna have to get you back, because I think there’s more we can talk about, isn’t there?

Annalene: We always like a chat, don’t we? It’s always. Thanks for having me.

Rachel: Annalene, if people want to know a little bit more about the stuff that you do or get advice or find any good asks on this, have you got any place that you could point them toward?

Annalene: The Dental Protection web page is a plethora of resources on a number of things. When you go on there, there’s like a top ribbon and you can click on your region. A lot of people would, would automatically go to the UK, but you can come and have a look on the Dental Protection Australia and have a look at things like our Wellbeing Hub, which is different to the UK Wellbeing Hub because Australian dental practitioners have similar problems, but they’re not the same. We create specific resources. There’s heaps and heaps and heaps of stuff on that webpage. It’s super helpful.

Rachel: Wonderful. We’ll put the link in the show notes and thank you. Speak again soon, hopefully.

Annalene: Will do. Thanks. Bye.

Rachel: Bye-Bye.

You’ll find the link in the show note. Thanks for listening. Don’t forget, we provide a self-coaching CPD workbook for every episode. You can sign up for it by the link in the show notes. And if this episode was helpful, then please share it with a friend. Get in touch with any comments or suggestions at hello@youarenotafrog.com. I’d love to hear from you and finally, if you are enjoying the podcast, please rate it and leave a review wherever you are listening. It really helps. Bye for now.