Oz's Business Continuity Blog 

Dental mental case

Yesterday was, without wishing to sound overly dramatic, a momentous day for me. After a year and a bit of discomfort (and, prior to that, 30-something years of actually getting around to doing it) I had my braces removed and revealed my newly straightened teeth to an expectant world.

Now, 47 might seem like a strange age to have braces fitted. And you might think “what’s the point?” after all that time. But it’s something that had been on my mind for a very long time.

Pretty much since the occasion, something like 36 years ago, when my dentist, who clearly couldn’t be arsed to help me (not that I’m bitter, you understand), said to the shy 12 year-old sat in his chair something like “you don’t want to be bothered with braces do you?”. I sort of went along with it – and I regretted it ever since. And, as a result, I’ve been really self-conscious about my teeth all my life.

A few years ago, when it became clear that my son would need braces, I said to him that when he got his I’d get some too. So last year it was time to put up or shut up and to put my money where my mouth is – quite literally, actually.

The funny thing is that, shortly after I’d had my gnasher-scaffolding fitted, a good friend, who I’ve know for almost as long as I’ve had my teeth, asked me why I’d done it. And, when I confessed my deep-seated psycological issues to him, he said “I didn’t realise it was such a problem for you”.

And, quite recently, at a school reunion, a couple of people I hadn’t seen for a very long time commented on my metalwork and said they never really noticed my hideous, protruding, rabbit-like fangs (that’s my words, by the way, not theirs – they were far to polite to say that to me).

So, apart from baring my soul and exposing my mental frailties to the world, what’s the point of this tale? I hear you ask.

Well the point is that, for all we think we might know someone, we can never quite be sure what’s going on in their head; what baggage they might be carrying. And that’s quite important from a business continuity point of view.

Why? Because when people experience extremely stressful or traumatic situations, that baggage – i.e. the negative experiences and traumas of the past (and I’m talking here about serious stuff, not wonky teeth) – can affect the way they handle the situation. And, in the worst cases, it can contribute to severe psychological problems. Because our old friends stress and trauma have a nasty habit of dredging up and feeding off those past experiences. And it doesn’t matter how senior, or how otherwise capable, the sufferer might be – anyone could be affected.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that, as part of our incident management planning, we all sit in a circle and discuss our deepest psychological and emotional issues – that would be ridiculous. And I’m not suggesting that we’ll necessarily ever know what’s lurking in the memories of our colleagues.

What I am suggesting is that we should be mindful of the fact that this could be an issue for some. And that if, in the unfortunate event that we have to invoke our plans, someone does exibit uncharacteristic behaviour, there might just be a reason for it and you might just need to keep an eye on them.

So, to return briefly to my own (former) psychological problem. I have to say, I’m quite chuffed with my new-look gnashers, even if most of the people I know probably won’t even notice. And I suspect my orthodontist is just as chuffed – he flipping-well should be, given the size of his bill!


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