Clear, crisp communication is the window to creating a positive and productive dental practice. In short, you could say that “The three C’s lead to the three P’s.” During my last lecture titled “The Economics of Great Communication,” I surveyed the audience and asked them, “What was the name of your most recent continuing education course?” Of the almost 100 in attendance, by far, clinical courses like cosmetic dentistry, implant dentistry or the latest innovations in dentistry were the most popular. Courses on practice management ranked second and included various topics like reducing broken appointments, collect what you produce or more efficient scheduling. To my surprise, not one of the participants had taken any courses on effective communication.
Why is it that very few dentists and their teams take courses on communication? One reason may be that only a few communication courses are offered at regional or state dental meetings. A second reason is that most dentists, being predominantly left-brained, analytical thinkers, prefer to take courses that focus on technique or the latest innovations. Lastly, and probably the primary reason, is that most dentists don’t see the need, the value or the benefits of courses on effective communication. Here are five reasons why clear, crisp communication will help you create a successful practice; one that is more fulfilling, more fun and more profitable.
- When your verbal and written communication is clear, you will develop “clarity of purpose” and “clarity of your thinking.” When you think more clearly, you will make better decisions, and you will relate better with others. You’ve heard the phrase, “having a clear head.” Having clarity is like the sun appearing after the morning fog has lifted away. Here’s the reality…dentistry is a people business. When you communicate clearly, you will “connect” better with your team, your patients and yourself. How does this happen? First, clear communication helps you to effectively shape your thoughts and ideas.With this new awareness and intentionality, you will express yourself in a way that better motivates and encourages your team members. In regard to your patients, when you’re thinking more clearly, you can better come alongside your patients to help them “see what you’re seeing.” When your patients truly understand their dental situation from a perspective that makes sense to them, they are more likely to accept your treatment recommendations. To phrase it another way, clarity of communication builds trust. Some specific steps you can take towards developing clarity within your dental practice include writing mission, vision and value statements along with outlining your office systems and protocols. I think you would agree that “When the windshield is clear, it’s easier to see the road in front of you.”
- Whether it’s scheduling or dealing with broken appointments, workflow efficiency and timeliness will improve when the specific steps of your administrative and clinical procedures are clearly outlined and understood by everyone. Want to impress your patients? Always be on time for their appointments and always “inform before perform.” Your patients will start talking to their friends telling them, “This office is the best! They take the time to explain things to me, and they are always on time. I never have to wait!” When you do these things, you’ll set yourself apart. Your patient seating area will be a “reception room” rather than a “waiting room.” Being a good communicator will become your best marketing tool.
- Your productivity and profit will increase for two main reasons. The first reason is more obvious. With a clear sense of purpose and an outward focus on your patients, on your team and on your systems, you will work more efficiently and productively. A second and more powerful reason is that when clear, crisp communication becomes the most important part of your office culture, team members will feel heard because you’ve created a safe work environment for them.When people feel safe, their sense of self-worth, their creativity and their sense of belonging increases. A cohesiveness will result as your team enjoys being part of something greater than themselves. As a result, your overall practice production will improve as each team member is allowed to perform to the best of their ability. It is similar to the magic that occurs when a sports team has a winning season. As morale continues to increase, so will your profits. And with this increase in profits, you, the dentist, will be equipped to better meet the needs of your practice, your team, your patients and yourself. Joy, fulfillment, sense of purpose and financial success will become a self-perpetuating prophecy.
- Your relationships with your team and your patients will improve with clear, crisp communication. Your team will work together better. Collaboration will replace competition. With effective systems on board, your practice will run more smoothly and become a fun place to work. Patients will notice the increase in joy and laughter. They themselves will feel more comfortable because of the contagious and positive energy emanating from the team. As the patients’ comfort levels increase, so will their level of confidence and trust in you and your team. And as a result, your patients will accept more of your treatment recommendations.
- Your ability to make decisions and solve problems will dramatically improve when your mission, vision, values and your expectations are clearly expressed, shared and understood by everyone. Want to fire up your team? Seek their input, and tell them how much you appreciate them. Showing respect along with clearly communicating “the rules of the game” will create an environment that is authentic and real. Subsequently, your ability to work through conflict will improve as you shift your focus from playing “the blame game” to solving problems. Another huge benefit is that, at the end of your workday, you will have energy left for your family and friends.
In summary, if you want to transform your practice into a positive workplace and at the same time increase your practice production, become a better communicator. The first step is to have the courage to admit that you need help in this area. The second step is to find someone who is knowledgeable, one who can partner with you to help you and your team learn these new skills. Remember, dentistry is first and foremost a people business. Once you have a better understanding of the “people side” of your practice, the “financial side” will follow, proving once again that clear, crisp communication does, in fact, result in a more positive and productive practice.
Dr. Maguire is a Navy Veteran who received his DDS degree from George- town University School of Dentistry in 1984. He completed his Bachelor of Arts at the University of New Hampshire in 1980 and Master of Arts Degree in Strategic Communication and Leadership at Seton Hall University in 2009. He is a past president of the New Hampshire Dental Society, serving from 2014 to 2015. Dr. Maguire is a fellow in the International College of Dentists and the American College of Dentists. He is also a member of the American Dental Association, the New Hampshire Dental Society and the Speaking Consulting Network.
In addition to these credentials, he is also a certified trainer for the DISC Personality Assessment Tool. Early in his career, Dr. Maguire became an avid student of both the Dawson Center and the Pankey Institute, completing all of their week-long continuums. It was the “Pankey Philosophy” that inspired him to continually develop his technical and communication skills. For 28 years, Dr. Maguire had a fee-for-service solo private practice in Wolfeboro, NH. His practice thrived without the influence of PPOs or Premiere programs with set fees. He attributes his success to the deep relationships he made with his patients and team. Retiring financially secure at age 60, Dr. Maguire founded Dynamic Dental Communications where he now specializes in coaching and teaching dentists and their teams how to be effective communicators. “I want dentists and their teams to thrive rather than survive,” says Dr. Maguire. The ultimate goal is to help dentists and their teams experience more joy, more professional fulfillment and more financial success in their lives and in their practices. Robert M. Maguire, DDS