Brett Churnin, November 2018
Think for a moment about somebody you really trust. It might be a family member or close friend. It might be a professional person such as a doctor or an accountant.
Whoever it is, it is likely that you have some sort of history with that person. Over time you have observed them in action and seen that their actions are consistent with their word.
This is the path to trust. People who are total strangers to us have a neutral level of trust. People who have done the wrong thing by us have less than normal levels of trust.
Dentists, unfortunately, have it a bit tougher than that.
Even before you’ve met a new patient, unless they’ve read raving reviews and received favourable referrals, their general level of trust is not usually high. This overall negative perception has damaged the image of some very good dentists; it can be soul-destroying to hear multiple times a day that “I hate coming to the dentist” (somehow qualified by “but it’s nothing personal”).
But what if there was a way to turn this around? What if we could, with just a few simple words, start to move from lack of trust to having lots of trust with a patient.
The good news, it is possible. And it all comes down to your position, and declaring that position to your patients.
The power of a clear position
One of the most common complaints you’ll read on online reviews, is that the “dentist tried to sell me treatment I didn’t need”.
It’s likely that they did need the treatment, but also likely that in recommending (elective and expensive) treatment for a problem that often doesn’t cause any pain, the patient felt pushed towards what they think is unnecessary treatment.
For this reason, it is important that a dentist pre-empts and shifts this common perception, especially with new patients.
In Primespeak, this can be initiated by declaring your ‘position statement’.
A position statement is a simple few sentences that clarifies a dentist’s philosophy and approach.
There’s no script for this, and you’ll need to find your own words that feel comfortable for you, but a position statement can be as simple as, for example:
“I’m here today to understand what is happening with your teeth, and to show you anything I find during the exam. I’ll explain everything, including any options for treatment, and then as long as you understand the options and the pros and cons of those options, I am happy to support whatever you choose to do.”
In other words, you’re giving the patient a sense of control about the decision-making process, and clarity about your intentions. Rather than judging you on their past experiences or perceptions, they begin to judge you on your intentions. With this control and clarity, you begin to create new neutral pathways, which creates a greater sense of trust and ease.
Before you see your next new patient, have a think about what YOUR position statement might sound like. Speak it out aloud and ponder on how it sounds. Then, take 15 seconds in your next new patient exam to explain your intentions with a position statement – it might just make a world of difference.
This is but one of many tools dental practitioners learn in communicating effectively with their patients at our Primespeak Seminar. Find out more about this advanced dental communications course here.