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”
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.