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Episode #331: How to Manage the “Karens” in Your Practice, with Xaña Winans

the best practices show podcast Aug 27, 2021

Sometimes, it’s better to let people believe they're right — whether they are or not! But what do you do when the crazies get out of control? To help you manage the “Karens” who storm into your practice, Kirk Behrendt brings back Xaña Winans, owner and founder of Golden Proportions Marketing, to talk about the three types of crazy people you may deal with in your practice. To learn when to take the air out of the fire and when not to engage at all, listen to Episode 331 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

  • Don't feed the crazies. They thrive off of your energy!
  • Be proactive. Prevention is better than the cure when dealing with these people.
  • “Karens” are looking for attention and a fight. Don't engage.
  • The “easily offended” are looking for validation. Give them some power.
  • Prepare answers to questions from “vaccination hall monitors”. Show them you care.
  • Take caution with how you respond to “Karens”. They can take down your business.


  • “I think we have gotten way more sensitive to pretty much everything in this society. But people are definitely crazier, and we’re more aware of the crazy. So, it multiplies. You see someone acting completely bananas, and it’s funny to you, so you're going to throw it up on social media, on Twitter, Facebook, wherever, share it with all your friends. It goes viral, and all of a sudden, you got this massive problem on your hands. So, these “Karens” have an outsized impact for the thing that they're doing. Like, they're getting way more attention than they deserve, in my opinion.” (06:18—06:54)
  • “There are a couple of really distinct type of personalities that we have to be prepared for, and they each have a different strategy that goes with them. So, there are “Karens,” which are basically the, ‘I'm going to do what I think is best, and I'm going to tell everybody else that they're wrong.’ There's what I'm calling “vaccination hall monitors,” the people who are calling your practice and asking if everyone in the office is vaccinated. And then, ultimately, this is the group that we can't control, it’s the people who are easily offended. You could do anything that seems slightly controversial, but you didn't mean it to be, and they will go off and make it their personal mission to destroy your business.” (09:48—10:28)
  • “It is really common for a patient to call a practice and ask, ‘Before I come in, is everybody in your practice vaccinated?’ And well-meaning front office managers are literally just answering the question. They're saying, ‘Well, most of our team is vaccinated,’ or, ‘Our doctors decided that they're going to wait a couple of months to get vaccinated,’ or they just say, ‘Oh, it’s really none of your business. I can't share it.’ And because they haven't done it in a well-scripted way, what happens is these hall monitors — and this is why I'm calling them hall monitors — they feel it is their responsibility to now tell the entire community that nobody should go to your practice because your inability to have your entire team vaccinated is putting everyone at risk, like you're going to personally be killing people when they come into your practice. So, you've got to be careful.” (11:58—12:51)
  • “In advance of getting these kinds of questions [from “hall monitors”], put together a video that shows your patients and prospective patients all the things that you are doing to keep patients extra safe. So, you can do fun stuff. You can show the doctor and the hygienist holding a six-foot long ruler away from each other so they can make sure that they're socially distanced. Or you can show the assistant having 17 layers of masks on. Show everybody what you are doing, seriously and with a little comedy in it, and put this together as like a one-minute video. And then, you need to be proactive about it. You need to put this out on social media and say, ‘We want to share with you all of the things that we are doing to keep you safe when you come in for your visit.” (13:41—14:32)
  • “These “Karens,” what happens is they create so much drama, and they actually walk into your practice like they know they're doing something wrong. What they're really looking for is attention. It’s almost like dealing with a toddler who needs a nap. Like, you have this irrational person who has no ability to have a logical conversation with you, so you need to be prepared with everything in advance when it comes to your “Karens”.” (16:53—17:25)
  • “[“Karens”] are coming in looking for a fight. They are looking for a reason to get amped up and excited so that they can prove that they are right. And they're dead wrong. The problem that comes into this is when you have a patient in the reception room who pulls out their phone and starts shooting this or livestreaming it on Facebook, and then this thing goes viral because it’s hysterical that you've got a crazy person in your office. But it’s still your office and your name that's associated with it. So, all of a sudden, you're cleaning up after the fact. That is bad press that I wouldn't want to have anywhere near me — even if I were in the right.” (19:13—19:55)
  • “If [a “Karen”] writes a review online, often, what I have seen is these are the reviews that go on, and on, and on. You have to keep scrolling to read every bit of vitriol that this person has spewed out. Like, any bit of anger in their life, they're going to find a way to make you responsible for it, as the dentist. So, if you read it and you find there is any legitimacy to their point at all, I still recommend calling that person and seeing if there's a way to resolve this situation. However, if they are just bananas, a really short and to-the-point response, ‘That's not how we run our practice. I'm so sorry that you feel you were treated this way. I wish you the best of luck in the future.” Just shut them down. Everybody is going to read it and know this person is crazy. I would not get too worried about that one-star, unless they start piling on and having all their friends write a bunch of reviews, which is a whole different scenario.” (20:51—21:50)
  • “The “easily offended” are the most difficult to manage because you have absolutely no idea when they're going to go off or what their trigger is going to be. It could be anything from the fact that they saw your SUV in the parking lot, and they declare that you are personally responsible for destroying the environment because it’s a gas hog. Or they could see you take off your gloves twice during a procedure because you had to type some notes in, and now you're destroying the environment because you're wasting gloves. They can be offended by almost anything.” (22:31—23:02)
  • “The one person who gets offended gets all of their friends to get ramped up and offended as well, and then they go write all of these horrible reviews. And so, the question is, how the hell do you stop that kind of stuff? Because your reputation could be shut down. I mean, you could lose your practice in a heartbeat.” (24:45—25:02)
  • “Just validate [the “easily offended”]. So, if she’s going off about how you're destroying the environment, take a step back, pause, and say, ‘You know what? That's actually a great perspective. I guess I never thought of it that way. This seems to be something you're passionate about. Tell me what you're doing to support the environment. What do you think I could be doing?’ And just let them have some power in this situation. They're going to feel like you're invested in a solution as opposed to fighting them on the situation.” (27:39—28:08)
  • “I learned a long time ago, it is a lot better to just let people believe they're right, whether or not they are. If you need to not have conflict, let it go. It doesn't matter whether you're right or wrong. Let them believe they're right.” (28:09—28:24)
  • “If the fire rages out of control and it’s a little too late, if you didn't say the right thing to this easily offended person and they are destroying you online, you can basically take your Facebook page offline for 30 days. It does not shut it down. It does not cancel it or delete it. Let's basically take the air out of the fire.” (30:54—31:16)
  • “Now, they can still write their reviews on Google and go crazy there. But you can actually flag all of these reviews as inappropriate. Tell Google these are not my patients. They're going to see that you got 200 reviews all in a matter of two days, and people are going off about what a horrible person you are. They're going to recognize this is baloney, and they’ll end up deleting them. So, those, just don't respond. Don't engage. Just sit back and let those happen, and then you deal with it in a day or two, and the fire will burn out. They’ll find something else to get offended about.” (31:16—31:51)


  • Xaña’s background. (03:32—04:22)
  • What are “Karens”? (04:50—05:36)
  • How to manage the “Karens” in your practice. (06:16—06:54)
  • Why this is an important topic for Xaña. (07:27—09:19)
  • How to handle the crazies. (09:47—10:41)
  • Dealing with “vaccination hall monitors.” (11:50—13:17)
  • How to prepare for questions from “hall monitors”. (13:34—15:09)
  • What “Karens” want is attention. (16:14—20:13)
  • How to manage “Karens’” one-star reviews. (20:43—21:50)
  • Managing the “easily offended”. (22:31—28:24)
  • Be fascinated, not frustrated. (29:39—30:24)
  • Last thoughts. (30:52—31:56)
  • Xaña’s contact information. (32:31—33:25)
  • Q&A for Xaña: (34:04—39:03)

Reach Out to Xaña:

Xaña’s full-service company website: www.goldenproportions.com

Xaña’s email: [email protected] 

Xaña’s Instagram: @xanaathena https://www.instagram.com/xanaathena/?hl=en


The Social Dilemma documentary: https://www.netflix.com/title/81254224

Xaña Winans Bio:

Xaña Winans is Golden Proportions Marketing’s CEO, founder, resident visionary, and lead strategist. As one of the industry’s most sought-after dental marketing consultants, she collaborates with our team on a diverse group of clients to create strategic marketing solutions with measurable results. Her passion for dentistry is evident in the work that she does and in the award-winning products GPM produces to help your practice thrive.

Around the office, we all know that Xaña’s knowledge and drive extend well beyond GPM’s walls. You’ll often find her lecturing at some of dentistry’s biggest conventions and study groups as a recognized expert and international speaker on dental marketing. Couple that with over 20 years’ experience of marketing dentistry, and it’s easy to say that she’s pretty much seen it all.

Xaña’s been married to an accomplished cosmetic and restorative dentist, Dr. Larry Winans, for over 25 years. Their two incredible children, Ryder and Savannah, regularly remind their parents that they are successful adults, so now all parenting attention is delivered to two furry companions. She may also turn up courtside with Jen Bernstein at any number of Bucknell basketball games, helping cheer the Bison on to victory. 


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