Glow, glow, peanut butter jelly

2015 02 15 23 17 12 996 Madow Brothers 200

You have probably played or at least heard of the children's game called telephone or grapevine. In it, one person whispers a message to another, which is passed through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group. Errors typically accumulate in the retellings, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly, and often amusingly, from the one uttered by the first.

Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS.Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS.

The results are often hilarious, ridiculous, and, in some cases, even embarrassing.

In 2012, an international version was played, spanning all six inhabited continents. It began in Australia as "Life must be lived as a play," and by the time it got to Homer, AK, the phrase was "He bites snails."

The next year, Antarctica was added (not sure how they got a penguin to participate) and it was split into three branches to see how different the final phrase would be. What started as "Play is training for the unexpected" finished as "Clouds travel around the world," "Ian needs help," and "Glow, glow, peanut butter jelly!"

The game can be lots of fun, but it also teaches some important lessons for your practice.

3 lessons

The first is that not only is office gossip destructive, it is just about always inaccurate. None of us would like to be the victim of inaccurate rumors, so why participate in this kind of behavior at all?

Of the many communication skills, listening is perhaps the most important. In the game of operator, it's fun not to listen well and mess up the result; in real life, not so much. This is the second lesson.

“Don't use dental terms with your patients!”

Third lesson: Imagine a game of operator where you gather a bunch of nondental people (your typical patients) and whisper to the first one: "There is a carious lesion proximal to the distolingual cusp."

What kind of mess do you think that would be by the time it reached the end? Don't use dental terms with your patients!

Even words such as perio, composite, crown margin, etc. should be off limits. Remember our favorite adage: Speak on the level of a sixth grader and even a PhD can understand you. Speak on the level of a doctor and you'll confuse everyone.

Want to have some fun at a team meeting or party? Play a game of telephone. Want to cause trouble in your practice? Gossip, listen poorly, and speak in dental lingo.

In 1989, Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS, founded The Madow Brothers with the goal of helping their fellow dentists achieve success and happiness in their practices. For more information about their e-letters, audio series, New Patient Mail marketing program, Dental Powerhouse group, their live presentations (including "How To Love Dentistry, Have Fun, and Prosper," "The Ultimate Dental Boot Camp," and especially "TBSE"), and more, check them out at

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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