The real reason patients say 'I'll think about it'.

Daniel Midson-Short, February 2015.  

For most dentists, their day consists of at least 6 or 7 separate appointments with their patients, all with some sort of discussion around treatment, or at least the suggestion that the patient consider taking better care of their mouth.

One of the most common responses you hear as a dentist, whenever you suggest a course of treatment is the phrase ‘I’ll think about it.”

While this might seem encouraging, it is also a red herring given by patients so they can sneak out the door of your practice without committing any money or time towards treatment.

Why do so many patients say “I’ll think about it” when what they really mean is “No, I don’t want to”?

Believe it or not, it all comes down to the fact that they like you, and don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Consider this… would you rather say no to a stranger or a good friend? Surprisingly, most people find it harder to say no to a good friend, because they don’t want things to be awkward the next time you see them.

In this same way, often your patients start feeling awkward if they have to say ‘No thanks’ to your treatment recommendations.

If you are getting a lot of “I’ll think about it” in your practice, then you know two things are true:

  1. Your patients like you and don’t want things to be awkward
  2. You need a new approach so they don’t feel awkward telling you the truth

In the Primespeak approach, we call the “I’ll think about it” response a form of polite evasion.

It’s the skillful avoidance of making a commitment that your patient uses to trick you into thinking they are thinking about it. But of course, they aren’t doing it to trick you, but rather to make you feel better.

Polite evasion is bane of most dental practices. You can literally spend years chasing patients who are thinking about treatment.

But now you know what it is, you can label it as polite evasion, and then the next step is to figure out how to stop it from happening.

The key is to explain their conditions in a way that helps your patient understand the reality, and then allow them to make whatever decision feels right for them.

By focussing your energy on helping the patient understand, it empowers them to make a better decision. By passing back the choice to them (i.e. not recommending or telling) it empowers them to be honest and make the best choice for them.

And as a bonus, you will find more patients being open and honest with you, and nobody will feel awkward anymore.

Now, isn't that something worth thinking about? 

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