Running a Dental Practice: Say No (More)

By Dr. Addison Killeen

January 11, 2022

The Value of Time

Running a dental practice and balancing life is difficult. No bones about it. We are pulled as business owners, we are pulled as parents, and it seems like there’s never enough time. In order to be more successful in life, and to be better at the things that we say are important to us, we should say ‘no’ to more things. This could be outside commitments, or even things like social media or certain apps on our phone.

My good friend Dr. Jason Tanoory reminded me of something Peter Attia, MD, said in an email a few years ago. Attia wrote,

“Time is the ultimate currency. We often fail to appreciate just how much of a premium we should place on this resource. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accepted an invitation only to regret the decision later. Why did I agree to that time-sucking conference call in four weeks? Why is my schedule filled, yet I feel like I’m wasting my time? The short answer is that I’m really good at saying yes. But it often puts me in a place where I’ve indirectly said no to more important things in my life.”


 “No” Strategies

What can we take away from this? We need to have more strategies for saying ‘No’ to outside commitments. So, how do we do this?

1. Acknowledge and thank the other person.
2. Make sure to remind them that saying yes to this, means saying no to something else.
3. Say no.
4. Point them in the direction of someone who might help them

Let’s say you just got invited to be on the board for a local non-profit. Us dentists are always targeted for this because we know the people there, we are usually well-connected, and usually already donate to this specific organization. So, how do we say no?

“Wow, I’m super honored that you asked me to be on this board. Unfortunately, I am already committed to a few other things that are taking up the majority of my time right now, and saying yes to this would mean I fail in my other commitments. With that being said I’m going to have to decline. However, I have a few other people who might be great for you to inquire with…”


In Summary

While no denial is perfect, doing it this way helps the other person not feel slighted. Our goal is not to put the other person down, but be fiercely protective of our own time.

So, in order to save more time for the things that are valuable for you, find one thing to say ‘no’ to today.

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