Print page

Communication Skills—Your Practice’s Most Valuable Tool


Powerful verbal skills influence everything in the practice—team effectiveness, customer service and practice productivity. For this reason, it is imperative that you work with your team to enhance their communication skills.
Good Communication Must Come From the Entire Team
Highly successful practices have developed an excellent ability to communicate with patients. However, good communication must be exhibited by the team, not just the doctor. All team members must be skilled in educating and motivating patients to seek optimal oral health.
Dr. Roger Levin
Levin Group has observed that patients have a minimum of four contacts with different team members during a regular visit. Each of these contacts is an opportunity to enhance the relationship with patients and add value to their overall practice experience.
The following tips can help you and your team become better communicators:
1. Speak Clearly
This seems simple enough. Enunciate every word you are saying. Whatever your speaking style, if patients have difficulty hearing what you’re saying, you can be sure your message is not getting through.
2. Make Eye Contact
Look at people in the eye when speaking to them. This shows that you stand behind what you say and that you take an interest in your audience.
3. Address People By Their Names
When you’re addressing a patient one-on-one, use that person’s name during the conversation. People like to hear the sound of their own name.
4. Be An Active Listener
Listening involves two things—hearing what is said and what is not said. Often the most important message being communicated is what has been omitted.
5. Be Empathetic
Put yourself in the shoes of your patients. Looking at situations from their perspective can give you a better understanding of patients’ concerns.
6. Use PowerScripting™
PowerScripting™ can help you improve your team’s verbal skills. During a staff meeting, you and your team should look at three common practice scenarios and write down several approaches on how to handle each situation. Once you have created your scripts, review them regularly with your team.
It’s Not Only What You Say – It’s How You Say It
A positive attitude is critical to strong communication skills. People tend to place more trust in positive people, and trust is a critical factor in dentistry. To maintain a positive attitude, we must address not only what we say to patients, but how we say it. Anyone can improve communication skills with a few simple changes.
When speaking to patients, keep in mind:
  • Staying positive is crucial. People are attracted to positive and enthusiastic people.
  • People often judge others not only by appearance and body language, but by how they talk and the words they use.
  • Positive language makes it easier for the patient to like the doctor and the team.
  • Liking the doctor and team leads to trust.
  • People who trust the doctor and dental team tend to accept cases presented by the practice.
  • Practices that want to enhance the level of dentistry they provide will want to pay close attention to their communication skills and how they are perceived by patients.
Conclusion
Patients acknowledge the excellence of the practice by the way you and your team communicate. Strong verbal skills, supportive non-verbal communication, and a positive attitude affect patient perceptions of quality and customer service, which are vitally important to practice success. Implement these communication strategies and you too will be on your way to achieving Total Practice Success™!

* * *
Dr. Roger P. Levin is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Levin Group, Inc., the country’s leading dental practice management firm.
A third-generation dentist, Dr. Levin founded Levin Group in 1985. He is one of the profession’s most sought-after speakers, bringing his Total Practice Success™ Seminars to thousands of dentists and dental specialists each year.
A pioneer of dental practice management, he developed the Levin Group Method™, a systems-based methodology that effectively brings the business side to dentistry. He is a regular columnist for numerous dental publications and author of more than 50 books on building and growing a dental practice. Levin Group may be reached at 888-973-0000 and customerservice@levingroup.com. They can be found on the web at www.levingroup.com.