Dental Knowledge

Tuesday Tip from Pride Institute: You know what I mean?

June 3, 2014
Do not assume that your dental patients have the same knowledge base that you do

We all learn things. Most of us truly enjoy learning new things (though most people don’t want to DO anything that requires a change of behavior). As humans, we strive to grow. We learn from those around us, whether that’s TV, magazines, or people. We assimilate what we’ve learned and then, to the best of our abilities, use the knowledge that we’ve gained.

Two issues arise here. First, it’s been said that we’re the average of the five people we hang out with most. So, with whom are you surrounding yourself? If you REALLY strive to grow, how are you pushing yourself to be better? (Hint: Look at what TV you watch, what you read, and the people you talk with about the things that matter to you.) Do you engage in constant learning? Are you developing yourself with new clinical learning? Are you going to seminars on leadership, new hygiene concepts, and how to truly create the ultimate in patient experiences? Once you do, then what?

The second issue arises. Before I explain what that is, I’ll say that I’m constantly learning. While I have dozens of books surrounding me at any one time, I’m usually the most focused on what’s been termed “Automobile University.” I have audio books in my car, and in short bursts I’m immersed in lessons of leadership or life management on a regular basis.

One of the concepts I recently learned about is called “The Curse of Knowledge.” I love that term. It’s shocking and compelling, and what it means is that we assume that people know what we know. Once we’ve learned something, we assume that others have that same understanding. We each need to check in to see at what level the people with whom we’re engaging understand a certain concept. As a member of a dental team you need to check in with each other, and more essentially, you need to check in with your patients. (You’re not speaking that foreign language of dental-ese again, are you?)

Whether we say the phrase out loud or simply imply it, when we say, “You know what I mean?” we seldom wait for the answer. Patients don’t know what we mean unless we give them something meaningful. (Surprise, patients are human first, and then dental patients.) So say what you mean and tie it to something the patient values. Assume that someone has NOT been learning the same material you have, and bring the concepts to the level of the patient’s understanding. That sounds obvious, yet it’s THE top thing I see as an obstacle to great patient interactions, and gaining a clear understanding of patients’ motivators and concerns over and over again.

Lift up the people you are surrounded by today, and challenge them to learn more, think differently, and be better. Give them something to think about based on what you’ve learned with the assumption that they don’t have the same knowledge base … yet. In so doing, your communication, rapport, and relationships (not to mention case acceptance) will improve.

You know what I mean?
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