5 Great Communication Secrets
“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” ~Paul J. Meyer
Statistics point to the fact that approximately 85% of our success in life is directly attributable to our communication skills. Every day, we communicate with our patients on how to gain or maintain health. Effectively discussing “clinical” findings when co-diagnosing can easily get lost in translation. Here are five secrets to great communication that will make a difference for you and your patients.
1) What Common Ground Can You Start From?
It doesn’t matter how long you have known a patient, take a step back to review all of the potential connections in their health history to their current state of oral health. THIS is your common ground!
Below is an example I recommend to my clients to use:
When we update your health history every visit, I see one red flag, which is your cholesterol medication. By now, we know that gum disease is the most common chronic infection in the US, more widespread than cancer, heart disease and diabetes. This infection is active in your body now, by teaming with your MD or cardiologist we can manage with you.
2) Eye Contact
Many of our treatment rooms have a keyboard behind the patient. When you are discussing the connection between oral health and the top 4 causes of death in the USA, asking a patient to invest in treatment without looking at them will negatively seal the fate of your intent. I’m not saying stare them down into submission. Be consciously aware of the message you are about to deliver and whether eye contact will be more powerful for your patients.
3) Body Language
It’s unspoken and yet speaks loudly to us. Check out your patient’s arms and legs while they are in your chair and waiting for the exam. Are their arms crossed? Are your arms crossed as you are discussing their oral health?
Find a way to open them up, be expressive with what you have to share without literally finger pointing. Palms of hands open, uncross your arms and legs and make sure that your posture is straight.
Be aware of your patient’s body language and adapt your communication until their body language is open. Hint: you won’t notice unless you have eye contact!
4) Be Relatable
People like to be around people who are relatable, approachable, and likeable. Be truly invested in their health and interested in how together you can help them gain or maintain it. What can you do to create an experience for your patients that encourage them to WANT to achieve a higher level of oral health in your care?
5) Is your intent clearly defined?
The extent to which your message is heard is directly related to the course of action chosen by your patient. Yes, it’s that simple!
The secret to great patient communication is to strengthen your skill set with each patient so they will absorb your message of health and apply it to their life.
Anastasia L. Turchetta, RDH
America’s Dental Hygienist