Daniel Midson-Short, April 2015 -
One of the biggest challenges of being a dentist is that you’ll often hear the phrase “I hate going to the dentist.”
No matter how thick-skinned you might be, this is a confronting statement to hear over and over again, day in and day out.
It’s also a strange thing to say openly to a dentist while sitting in their chair.
Think about it… can you imagine someone going to a movie theatre and telling the usher “I hate coming here.” Or someone buying a coffee at Starbucks and telling the barista “this is the worst thing I have to do all day”.
It would seem peculiar that any well-adjusted person would say something like that, and yet still be using the service. Yet, this is exactly what happens every time one of your patients says “I hate going to the dentist” while they sit in your dentist chair.
Why do patients openly tell dentists they hate coming to see them?
You might think of the “I hate going to the dentist” statement as a cry for help from the patient, a request for a life-line back into the world of trust. They're telling you because they want to trust you, and this is their way of asking.
Typically when a dentist hears “I hate going to the dentist”, their response is to either smile and ignore it, or try to placate the person by saying something like “don’t worry, I’ll be gentle” or “just relax, we’re here to take care of you,” or something similar.
Any of these statements are an attempt to ignore the underlying problem, which is actually why the patient has a mistrust of dentists. Just like with any symptom of dental pain, you have to face the underlying problem to solve it. The root cause of the mistrust is always found in a story from the patient’s past.
In Primespeak, there is a technique called a ‘Click-Down’ that enables you to find the root cause of the “I hate the dentist” comment. The way to use it to your advantage is to simply do the opposite of what most dentists do.
Instead of ignoring or placating the complaint, simply say “I’m sorry to hear that, I’m guessing there is a reason you feel that way…” then, let them talk while you listen. Really listen.
Doing this is like going into the eye of the storm, instead of running away from it. As counter-intuitive as it might seem, it’s one of the quickest ways to grow the patient’s sense of trust with you.
When the patient tells you the reason why they feel that way, they are then able to let go of the issue, or at very least have it out in the open. They will also see you as the person whom they entrusted with the information.
Even if they complain about a past dental experience, this doesn’t mean you as the new dentist have to take responsibility. You can simply nod, acknowledge and thank them for letting you know. The let them know you will keep this in mind during the appointment.
You might like to try this 'Click-Down' technique the next time you have a “I hate going to the dentist”patient, and you may be surprised that they convert into a raving fan.
In time, you may even hear “I used to hate coming to the dentist, but you’re different”.
That’s when you know they trust you.