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  • Denise Ciardello

What did we learn about ourselves in 2020?

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

We can all agree that this crazy year was not what we could have ever imagined - after all, there isn’t even a movie that comes close to what we have lived through. The prelude to 2020 was all about perfect vision or the beginning of another decade and the wonderful things that would be happening. Of course, we also referred to it as an election year and rolled our eyes in unison at the thought of the very many ads we would be forced to endure until November. That’s been the only predictable part of 2020.

The memes refer to this unique Leap year as 29 days in February, 300 days in March and 5 years in April. Kids in the future will go crazy trying to learn the history of 2020: the year of the great fertilization. Each week is a totally different lesson of its own so I can’t imagine how this will be crammed into a curriculum - but then I don’t have to because I lived it.

Since we have lived it, why not take a peak back to see what we have learned about ourselves in 2020? Do you remember what it felt like when they told us everything had to shut down for 14 days? FOURTEEN days! That’s laughable now and we could only wish that it had ended in 2 short weeks. But it didn’t.

We were told to wear masks; no - no masks; wait … maybe masks?; ok, definitely masks. That was an April Fool’s joke that never went away.

Here are some thoughts for you to ponder about this never-ending year:

1. Change - do you fight or accept it? We have been introduced to the air purifiers, masks, face shields, temperature checks, and mouth rinses prior to treatment. Are they really so bad? Maybe that is what we should have been doing all along to keep our teams and patients a bit healthier in our environment of aerosols and flying bacteria. It’s probably most irritating to be told that we HAVE to do it.

2. Plexiglass - I think that this is the hardest one for me - we had just become use to the open concept in the dental offices. Trying to understand someone talking through the plexiglass and wearing a mask often proves to be difficult. In the future, anthropologists will clearly define pre and post pandemic by the massive amounts of plexiglass in our landfills.

3. PPE - Wasn’t it kind of comical to hear the newscasters trying to define something that we have been use to for decades? The gloves and masks (surgical) have been common in dental offices since the onset of AIDS. It was the extreme cost increase that was so shocking. I was so proud of all the dental groups that would share where they were finding the disposable gowns or other scarce PPEs that the CDC required.

4. Technology is great! We are living in a time where everything is online. If you are still using paper charts, how long until you put your records in an electronic form? With the assistance of Weave, Solution Reach, Yapi and the other patient communication services, we were able to put out mass emails to our patients about all the Covid protocols and make them aware as the regulations change.

“Please stay in your car until we call you in.” to “Please proceed to the temperature check area in our reception room.”

5. Human interaction can never be replaced. I am a hugger. My husband laughs because it is not unusual for me to meet someone for the first time with a hug. My hugging has reverted to a teddy bear, just to get through my needs for the day.

Additionally, people give me energy. Being sequestered away takes a toll on the makeup of my being. I’ve heard this from many other extraverts.

The handshake has been an acceptable form of greeting, agreement or even a handoff since the caveman. That human touch has true meaning. The handshake has been replaced with the elbow bump - does that really give two people a solid connection?

Although I feel that webinars and Zoom calls are here to stay, I’m over all that.

6. All I need to know, I learned in kindergarten:

  • Share everything.

  • Play fair.

  • Don't hit people.

  • Put things back where you found them.

  • Clean up your own mess.

  • Don't take things that aren't yours.

  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

  • Wash your hands before you eat.

  • Flush.

  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

What are the kindergarteners learning in 2020?

  • Don’t touch anyone

  • Wear your mask

  • Stay away from people

  • Voice your opinion at will

  • Wash your hands often

I pity the children having to endure virtual learning. Socialization is a vital component in our day-to-day living; not to mention the hardships on the parents who are required to pick up the pieces.

As employers, I could only hope that there is grace and compassion for everyone as we muddle through this unknown season.

7. Opinions - just like bellybuttons, everyone has one. But not everyone needs to see (or hear) yours.

In our world of ‘internet courage’, the hatred, rude, vial language that I see has truly caused me to lose respect for people that I held to a pretty high esteem.

I continually think of this quote by Winston Churchill:

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."

We learn when we listen - which is why God gave us two ears, yet only one mouth.

8. America - The land of the free, the home of the brave.

We seem divided at every juncture of our society right now. Although I may have differing opinions about the election, the police, the Supreme Court, the president, or even who should have won Big Brother, than you, I would do my darndest to pull you out of burning car, or help you rebuild after a nature disaster. I believe in my heart that 99% of Americans feel that true love for our fellow Americans. God made us different so that we could grow and learn from each other.

This is a season that we will get through. My favorite quote of the year is ‘We are all in the same storm, just not all in the same boat.’ What’s happening in your boat? What have you learned about yourself during this tumultuous event? Do you look differently at your employees, your partner, your children? Have you found resources to help you cope for a better outcome? Will you end this year wringing your hands and asking Why Me and When will it end or pleased that you spent this pandemic organizing your life, your office, your world? At every intersection of our life, we have a choice. I try to live by the motto - No Regrets. You can either have negativity around you or look through a lens of optimism. What is your 2020 Lesson?

By the way, I’m here to tell you that if 2020 is a trailer to 2021, my article this time next year will have a totally different tone.


Denise Ciardello, Consultant

Denise is co-founder of Global Team Solutions. A professional speaker and published author, her enthusiasm and knowledge about the dental profession has helped many dental teams. She brings experience, insight, and creativity into her management style, along with a sense of humor. In a profession that can cause anxiety in some dental employees, Denise’s consulting approach is to partner with doctors and team members to help them realize the dream of creating a thriving, successful practice.

Denise can be reached at:

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