Etiquette Questions, Answered: Tricky Conversations
How Do I Handle My Dental Technician Using Inappropriate Language?
Q. During my dentist appointment, I heard a technician use racial epithets. Should I tell my dentist? Let it slide? Or just
stop going to the practice? It made me very uncomfortable.
A. Racial slurs are unacceptable, in any context. And it’s our responsibility as citizens of a larger community to confront bigotry rather than to look away. So before you book your next appointment, address the situation head-on. Call and ask to speak to the dentist. Then channel the voice of your most authoritative elementary-school teacher and say, “When I was last in your office, I overheard a dental assistant use some inappropriate words to describe people of a different race. It was very disturbing. Can you please let your staff know that they should not use that sort of language?” I suspect you’ll get a contrite apology. But if you’re not satisfied with the response, or if the incident repeats itself, you ought to get your teeth cleaned elsewhere.
Read more advice about your etiquette conundrums, and see our Modern Manners blog.
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