Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Fear being sued? Now is the time to listen.

If you fear complaints or being sued, read on.

We love working with people who want to learn and who believe that incremental changes make a big difference.

I am contacted by dentists and team members on a daily basis for many reasons, and often because they are
·      stressed, tired and short of money.
·      Fearful of complaints and being sued
·      Frustrated they are working very hard not earning enough
·      Confused by their patients who choose the cheapest rather than the best.
·      Their practice is underperforming or failing
·      Realising they need more than clinical skills.
·      Desperate to learn how to become more confident and better communicators

We run amazingly successful workshops, including, Patient Centred Sales- BEST CHOICES (PCS-BC) that deliver incredible results for our delighted clients.

Many people who ask about (PCS-BC) because they want a script and they believe a script is the best way to become a more effective communicator. We focus on successful outcomes and not on scripts and telling you what to say. Effective communication is less about what you say and more about what you understand, and you can only understand by becoming an effective listener.

There are four types of listening
·      Listening to ignore
·      Listening selectively
·      Listening to respond
·      Listening to understand

Listening to ignore is when you are not interested in what your patient has to say. The content may not seem relevant to you, you may disagree with their interpretations of events or their beliefs. You may be preoccupied with your own thoughts and not have enough bandwidth to listen to what the other person has to say. For whatever reason you are not interested and not listening. With this type of listening there is no understanding, and probably little respect or relationship.

Listening selectively is when you are listening to what someone else is saying and filtering the words picking out the information that you want and ignoring everything else. Often this occurs when you are listening for information that supports a previously held belief or diagnosis. If you listen with this style you will miss all the cues and have a narrow and distorted understanding of a situation.

Listening to respond occurs when you actively want to agree or disagree. You will pay particular attention to what is said, wait for the pause and respond to what has been said. There is a big problem with this type of listening, you miss most of what is said because you are preoccupied with constructing your killer response, again like selective listening you will only have a narrow understanding of the other person based on your map of reality.

Listening to understand. This is true listening and when you listen in this way you have the opportunity to build rapport, connection, empathy and co-create solutions. When you listen to your patients with this style of listening you will make life-time relationships, patients will respect your suggestions, follow your treatment recommendations and you are highly unlikely to get sued.

Which listening style do you use most often?

Listening to understand is a skill and requires practice here are some key pointers to help you.

·      Make time listening to understand takes time, ensure that your schedule time in your appointment book to give your patients ample time to think and talk. This is a patient care coordinator role.
·      Pay attention to the psychogeography. Firstly, wherever possible have conversations with you patients in a non-clinical room or if you don’t have a non-clinical consultation room, use a non-clinical area of your surgery. Rather than sitting opposite your patients which can often feel confrontational sit along-side them or with your chairs at a slight angle to one another. Make sure chairs are at the same height and it will probably make a difference to your patients if you are sat on their right or left, let them choose which chair they sit in.
·      Pay attention to body language. People like people like them and words only account for 7% of communication. 55% communication is body language. Become like you patients wherever possible, by paying attention and following their body posture. If they lean forward, lean forward, if they cross their legs cross your legs, if they wave their hand anti-clockwise, wave your hand anti-clockwise. This may seem strange to you at first; and psychologists and sociologists, report that gesture matching is a normal human process when people are in rapport and is a precursor of effective communication and trust.  You can learn more about the power of rapport on our course, speak the same language as your patients.
·      Open questions. There are two types of questions closed, which require a yes or no answer e.g. “Are you happy with the colour of your teeth?” Closed questions may be quick and expedient and give you very little information. Open questions give your patient free range in their answers, and the answers are comprehensive as a result. “What do you like best and least about the colour of your teeth?” Open questions take longer to ask and longer for the patients to answer and contain vital useful information.
·      Allow your patients time to think. When you ask open questions you patients will need time to consider and formulate their answers, give them time to think. It may be tempting to fill the silence with another question or a suggested answer. Keep it zipped and give your patient the time and space to formulate their answers. It can be useful to pay attention to your patients’ eyes. When they are searching for answers and formulating replies their eyes will often dart from side to side or they will blink frequently. If this is happening stay quiet and be patient.
·      Summarise. It is essential that you understand what the patient has said. Verify understanding by checking in “What I have understood is….” When you do this, it is vital that you use precisely the words the patient has used.
·      Keep your tongue still. When you speak in your head your tongue makes micromovements. The internal dialogue can prevent you from being present and listening to your patient, if you keep your tongue still the internal voices go quiet. A great technique to keep your tongue still is to imagine that you are holding an imaginary single drop of oil, between the tip of your tongue and your incisive papilla.

“Seek first to understand then to be understood”
S Covey

Be curious, become a listener who wants to understand. Use these tips and share your results with me.

If you want to learn more about what we offer for dentists who love to learn visit our Eventbrite page.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Are you playing Chinese wispers?

Did you play Chinese whispers as a child? 

Are you still playing it as an adult?

When played as a party game, what happened to the  message as it went around the circle? That is correct the message,was corrupted so by the end, it did not resemble the initial message.

Linguistically the phrase was subject to deletions distortions and generalisations and as a result its form was substantially changed to something that became unrecognisable from the original message.

Today I would like to focus on deletions. A linguistic deletion is when a piece of information is omitted, for example “Would you like to come to the party?” This may seem like a lovely request, and it does make sense; yet vital pieces of information have been deleted so that you are unable to answer. As a minimum, the information that is missing is probably, where and when. Some people may also need to know, reason, dress code, who else is going, what do I need to bring, when do I have to RSVP? etc.

Deletions happen frequently in conversations, in an effort to be concise, unfortunately,  omissions can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations. For example, person A makes a statement or request of person B deleting / omitting, unconsciously, information assuming person B knows what has been left out and can fill in the blanks correctly. More often than not, experience shows that the blanks are not usually filled in by person B as person A had intended.

Person A and B had several conversations the previous week including comparing notes on hairdressers and needing to have eyes tested and replacement glasses and the new opticians in the adjacent town.

Person A very rushed and busy on a Monday morning makes a request of person B “Following that conversation we had last week, can you make the appointment for me.”

Person B “Yes of course, I will let you know when I have done it.”

What was deleted is in { }
Person A          “Can you make the appointment for me.  {I would like to try your hairdressers as your hair is always so beautifully cut. I am available this week on Wednesday afternoon and evening or Friday Morning.}

Person B 2 hours later

“Just to let you know, I have made that appointment for you.”

“Just to let you know, I have made that appointment for you. {with the optician on Tuesday at 15:00, I have booked the appointment with Judy at Perfect Sight in town X the post code is XXXX XXXX and there is a 50% discount for initial appointments.”

15:15 on Tuesday a telephone call comes through, “Hi, it is Perfect sight here we were expecting you for an appointment at 15:00, I wanted to make sure everything was ok, and you were on your way.”

I am sure you can appreciate the confusion and conflict that potentially ensues as a result of information deleted, because each person is recalling a different conversation.

Linguistic deletions whilst common in conversation occur prevalently in email, twitter, text and facebook. Etc. On these media brevity is key and vital essential content is lost and understanding is a casualty.

“A picture paints a thousand words” have you noticed that a conversation is far richer in detail, than a text or FB post. I often think that text, twitter or FB is like a black and white still photograph compared to a conversation, which has the richness and complexity of a 3d moving image. A conversation in addition to more words also has, tonality, emotions which are deleted from a text, and a face to face conversation also has the body language.

Studies have shown that communication is 55% body language,38% tonality and only 7% words. When you are using the abridged format of modern digital communication tools how much is lost in understanding?

from the work of Albert Mehrabian

“A Problem can only be present in the absence of a truth-ful conversation.”

I encourage you to be mindful of your conversations, pay attention to where, when and with who you make deletions. Pay attention to your texts and FB messages where are they too scant for accurate understanding? Rather than rely on letting your fingers do the talking, pick up the phone, or meet up for a conversation, you will have a much greater opportunity for clarifying information, preventing confusion and save time in the long run. E mail can be used subsequently to confirm the content of the conversation if a data trail is required.

If you FB, text or e mail asking for help and advice, please expect me to ask you to call as I want to understand your situaltion, your challenges and your dreams and goals fully before I make any suggestions as to solutions that are available.

I want you to understand how much we care, before I show you how much we can help.

I look forward to hearing from you. 07989 757 884