Thursday, July 25, 2013

Does your practice have" Emotional Intelligence"?

Dentistry has seen a significant shift in how the different generations make decisions about their dental care. We have moved from the days of Doctor telling the patient they “have “a problem and “need” a procedure to fix it to the Traditionalist (born between 1922-1946) who respected the Dr. and they said yes based on respect for the expert.

Today we have Baby boomers who are the “me” generation always needing to know whets in it for them and make sure the value is there before they say yes…. to Gen X--latch key kids who demand to be involved in why they need it and say yes based on emotion more than logic, to Gen Y patients who expect “instant results”. Adapting to the generational diversity of the patient base accepting that all of them expect to be shown how the dentistry fits into their life. Today’s thriving dental practices realize that 85% of their success with patient loyalty, patient referrals, patient longevity and case acceptance are based on their team’s “emotional intelligence” and how they relate and connect with people. 15% is based on the actual technical ability or skill.

Our social and emotional intelligence is comprised of our understanding of our own self in how we relate to people combined with the ability and tools for reading others. We use the mixture of many tools in our dealings with people and our relationships are driven by how we handle our words which make up 10% ,our tone of voice which is 30% of a message and our non verbal body language which comprised the majority of our message or listening.

Today’s column is the first of a multi part series on Emotional Intelligence in the dental practice. Today we will cover Body language and the power of positioning in seating for you to achieve optimal connection for one more YES from your patients. A lot of unnecessary friction is created in team and patient situations due to lack of thought about seating and body positions.
The 'science' of where people sit in relation to each other, and on what and around what, is fascinating and simple for the dental team to adapt to. Below are a few guidelines of sitting position, table choice, and the power of changing your check out options and adding or using a consult room for private case presentations.
Clinically, sitting the patient up when communication is needed or requested deepens their trust for you. Sit at equal level, knee to knee, eye to eye to get them to open up and learn more about them. It also will cause them to retain more of what is said and show the importance of your message. Always sit them up for explaining their exam or a procedure in response to their question.
Administratively, the ideal is to have a sit down place for the 3-5 minute check out with a low desk for writing and paper work. This causes the patient to not leave without checking out and a chance to discuss their visit in the clinic and answer their simple questions.
The other option is to have a private consult room for patients of major need who need further discussion or financial arrangement’s in private. They will be more open with you, share their objections which you need to know and make better decisions when their privacy and care is honored. It makes them feel their needs are important enough for you to take the time and not rush them.
How we sit is important as well to make them feel comfortable and creates a cooperative environment. Sit at a diagonal angle of approx 45 degrees to them for all conversation. If there are challenges due to f equipment, furniture or available space. An angle between these two extremes is best - somewhere in the range of 30-60 degrees technically speaking. Be careful with “standing over them” or “talking down toward them” or speaking when you are not looking at them. This will create barriers to rapport and sometimes cause irritation or tension.
Make sure your eye contact is not a STARE but a easy movement of your eyes moving from their left eyebrow to their right down to their chin in a triangle motion. This makes them feel at ease with you and they won’t feel intimidated or judged and shut down the connection. Make sure your arms are open and not crossed to show openness, smile the entire time and keep your face neutral with non judgmental expressions when they offer their story or information.
Be aware of personal space when pulling your chair up to theirs. Do not sit so close together that personal space will be invaded. Conversely sitting too far apart will prevent building feelings of trust and open private/personal discussion.
Round tables are better than square or oblong tables for one on one meetings. Obviously this works well because no-one is at the head of the table, which promotes a feeling of equality The term 'round table' has come to symbolize partnership, collaboration and fairness, etc., for a long time. Theory suggests that when someone sits around a table the person sitting on the right will generally be the most open and aligned to the speaker.
These communication tools seem simple but are extremely neglected in the dental practice for many reason. Take the few minutes to think, plan and practice new positions and assess if your patients are responding differently. Stay tuned for the next series on the Eliminating Jargon for clear communication about dentistry.

No comments:

Post a Comment