How to connect with your four most important patients

Dec. 22, 2011
Dr. Sonny Chokka says understanding the four general personality types within the context of your patient base will help you connect better with your patients, which will ultimately lead to greater case acceptance.

By Sonny Chokka, DDS

Who are the four most important patients in your practice? We all have them; theyʼre often disguised, but you can spot them if you know what to look for. Throughout history, four general personality types have been identified and described.

Recently, in this century, Isabel Briggs-Myers and her mother, Katherine Cook Briggs, classified these four personality types in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). They based their findings on Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jungʼs work on human behavior. Discerning these general types of people, being able to speak their language, and seeing the world through their eyes will result in a greater connection to our patients ... and ultimately, case acceptance. Let’s meet these “four people.”

1. Intuitive Thinker (NT) — Rational
NT patients are very logical and scientific. They are usually engineers, scientists, and lawyers. Their language is typically concrete. They generally come across as cold and distant and are slow to warm up. They prefer treatment to be discussed in detail but gradually. They are interested in the materials and the pros and cons of treatment. They prefer to research or gather more information prior to case acceptance, and they enjoy making informed decisions on their own. They are interested in costs and benefits and value the clinical competence of the dentist.

2. Intuitive Feeler (NF) — Idealist
NF patients are driven by their emotion and their feelings. Typical career matches are therapist, social worker, and teacher. They will communicate in abstract, metaphorical language. They are less interested in the technical aspects of your treatment recommendations and more so in how the dental treatment is going to make them feel and how it will impact their life. They are often people pleasers. They want to have a meaningful personal relationship with their dentist and team members. They will make decisions based on their feeling and their “gut” instinct. They will respond favorably if your presentations arenʼt too lengthy.

3. Sensing Judging (SJ) — Guardian
The SJ patient values structure, order, rules, traditions, and institutions of society. SJs are usually accountants, financial planners, and judges. They are family-oriented, and security and safety is paramount. They worry that something will go wrong that could prove beneficial when discussing ideal treatment. It is important to them to do what is right. They are generally shy and use concrete language. As patients, they want to belong to the dental “family.”

4. Sensing Perceiver (SP) — Artisan
The SP patient is often impatient, very busy, and has little time for your presentation. These patients are “just the facts” people. They are usually extroverts and are usually found in trade jobs (i.e., carpenter, plumber) as well in the arts and music. They enjoy spontaneity. As their dentist, tell them exactly what they need to know and that you can
take care of it right away.

In business, customers will buy from people they like and from people who are like them. There is a benefit to knowing your patients on a psychological level not only to connect with them, but also to adapt to their temperament type. As the old saying goes, “If you want to catch fish, you must think like a fish.”

Author bio
Dr. Sonny Chokka is entering his 19th year of practicing dentistry. He is a partner in four large group practices in southern California and a regular attendee at CG Jung Institute in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of Sirona Speakers Academy. Dr. Chokka is a Pacific Dental Services Affiliated Owner Dentist, where he is a lecturer, speaker, advisory board member, and consultant. You may contact him at [email protected].