Director's Message: 7 principles of masterful dental conversations

Nov. 6, 2012
Kristine Hodsdon, RDH, writes about enrolling patients in masterful dental conversations.

I often hear “I didn’t like selling,” “I don’t like being pushy,” or “I don’t like feeling like I am manipulating my patients.” Then the professional shares, “I need to learn about having consultations with patients without losing my integrity and that allow me to be naturally who I am.”

Here’s an insight I want to share. If you want to be more enrolling,* providing more care and being in service to your patients, then you have to align your entire practice and team (business) to “being” enrolling. Hint: “being” is doing, and when you focus on “being,” the doing will take care of itself.

The following are seven “being” principles of masterful dental conversations:

1) Care about the person more than getting a yes for case acceptance

When you are focused on being an ally to your patient, you will be perceived as an ally. But when you are clinging to “selling the treatment,” your patient will experience the energy of the consultation as manipulative or off-putting. Your “being” is to think less about yourself and what’s in it for you (such as production), and place much more attention on your patient and what’s in it for them.

2) Connection counts more than anything

The connection you have with your patient is much more powerful than anything else. So even if you make some mistakes during your consultation, you will be fine if you maintain a connection and a rapport.

3) Acknowledge, acknowledge, acknowledge

Mirror back as much as you can to the person you are speaking to, and show them fully that you are excited for them to get to where they want to go and be compassionate about their fears, pains, and frustrations. Make sure to acknowledge your patient as much as you can. You want them to feel deeply seen, heard, and understood. If you can create that experience, that in itself is an immense gift.

4) Be curious

Your questions and curiosity for your patients will be a breath of fresh air! Few dental or medical professionals in their lives will be as interested as you are. However, your patients will know the difference between genuine curiosity and fake curiosity. So just can gather information to get to the yes that is case acceptance. So, it has got to be genuine.

5) Let go of force in the process

Once you start trying to convince, once you start changing somebody’s mind, the process breaks down. This happens when you are trying to sell someone on your value, or “this is what you need,” “should do,” or “well, if you where my mother, this is what I would recommend.” Instead, when you help your patients ...

  • create clarity around their health,
  • solidify your patients’ commitment in themselves,
  • help them decide to invest in themselves through your service and team,

... well, the rest of the pieces just fall into place with the right patient.

6) Be a matchmaker

It is not about you getting the production scheduled; it is about exploring whether there’s a match between your patient’s current oral health wants/needs and what your treatment and services are. When there’s a match, you can create healthy magic together. And when there is not, it is about you pointing your patients in the right direction with treatment options.

7) Your consultation is the ultimate act of service

It is essential for you to be in touch with the reality that, when your patients are saying yes to your treatment and services, it is actually part of being of service to them. Chances are that your patients have an oral health issue/problem that they’ve been struggling with for a long time. So your treatment recommendations are just what they need. You are here to give them that extra inspiration with taking the big step of choosing health.

* By the way, when I use the term enrolling, I simply mean to be able to offer your services in a way that is authentic and empowering for your current and prospective patients. But the main success factor for enrolling is inspiring your patients (clients) to say yes to themselves, and what they want first — and then naturally deciding to begin treatment with you and your team as a result of that commitment.

** This article is Part 2 of a series on Masterful Enrollment Conversations. Click here to read Part 1. If you think your association or audience would benefit from this topic, please visit or email [email protected].

Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH BS
Director, RDH eVillage