12 Questions to Improve Patient Communication

If adult dental patients become actively involved in patient education, those percentages rise to 70% of what they say and 90% of what they both say and do.

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By Kristine Hodsdon, RDH

Did you know that adults only retain about 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and 50% of what they hear and see? But if adults become actively involved, those percentages rise to 70% of what they say and 90% of what they both say and do.

Training expert Dave Meier says it best when he says, “Seeing ‘the light, making learning click, or experiencing an a-ha doesn’t have to be by chance. It can happen intentionally by appealing to the way people prefer to learn.” Therefore, to maximize retention for patients it may be beneficial to verify their dominant learning style.

There are three main learning styles — auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.

• Auditory learners learn through connections, either through feelings, intuition, talking, or interacting with others. They value harmony and collaboration, and are sensitive to others. They like to build relationships and prefer to talk about what they are learning.

• Visual learners learn by observing, or having something to look at. They like to analyze and build “mental models” from what they perceive. They prefer doing one thing at a time in a logical, step-by-step manner.

• Kinesthetic learners learn by doing, moving, being physically active, or using the body in some way. They enjoy spontaneous activity and prefer to do many things at once. They need their information to be immediately applicable and actionable. They often get bored when there is no outlet for action and can be easily distracted. They prefer learning that is hands-on rather than passive. They also like to be entertained as part of the learning experience.

I invite you to take the following assessment to find out which learning category you likely fit in. Answer “yes” or “no” to each question, and then total your “yes” responses to determine your learning preference.

  1. When you imagine talking with others, do you “see” the encounter taking place? (yes or no)
  2. When you imagine talking with others, do you have the conversation in your head first? (yes or no)
  3. When you anticipate talking with others, do you often experience physical sensations, such as knots in your stomach? (yes or no)
  4. As you listen to others, are you easily distracted by what you see — the look on the speaker’s face or the speaker’s appearance? (yes or no)
  5. As you listen to others, are you easily distracted by the tone or sound of their voices? (yes or no)
  6. As you listen to others, are you easily distracted by what you are feeling inside or by what you think others are feeling? (yes or no)
  7. At the end of a conversation, are your memories based on what you have seen? (yes or no)
  8. At the end of a conversation are your memories based on what you have heard or said? (yes or no)
  9. Do you find it difficult to remember details about exactly what you heard or what you said? (yes or no)
  10. When you are learning something new, does seeing the material displayed or reading about it help you significantly? (yes or no)
  11. When you are learning something new, does listening to instructions or talking about them with others help you significantly? (yes or no)
  12. Do you learn best in a “hands-on” situation? (yes or no)

Now it is time to calculate your answers.

  • Put a “V” next to questions 1, 4, 7 and 10
  • Put an “A” next to questions 2, 5, 8 and 11
  • Put a “K” next to questions 3, 6, 9, and 12

To determine which learner you are, total your “yes” responses:

  • For your visual score, which again are numbers 1, 4, 7, and 10
  • For your auditory score, which are numbers 2, 5, 8 and 11
  • For your kinesthetic score, which are numbers 3, 6, 9 and 12

The category with the highest score reflects your preferred learning style.

By understanding the three main learning styles — auditory, visual, and kinesthetic — and accommodating them in your communication messages, you can dramatically increase retention and patient acceptance simply by involving the patient in the communication experience.

Kristine Hodsdon
RDH eVillage, Director

Kristine’s Note: “Mindset Mastery Success System” is a five-hour online coaching program that is designed to align the direction of your career with your life. I invite you to learn more by clicking http://bit.ly/MindsetMasterySS.

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