Alan Alda wasn’t too thrilled about his last visit to the dentist.
He’s also a dental patient who, in a recent New York Times interview, offers solid advice about communication with everyone who takes a seat in your operatory chair:
“I’ve come to see my exchange with the dentist that day as something that happens frequently in life — a brief encounter that threatens a relationship’s delicate tissue; the tender frenum of friendship. I wasn’t looking for friendship that day, but at least I wanted the feeling that I was actually being seen by him. Even though his gaze was intense, I realized that as far as he was concerned I wasn’t really there — not as a person. If I was there at all, I was something on his checklist. He was speaking into the vague mist of interpersonal nothingness.
That few minutes in his chair has become a symbol for me of really, really poor communication and of what causes it: not really seeing the other person.”