How Valuable are Communication Skills to You?

The following blog post ran earlier this year. I think it was an important one and hope you find it useful to remember as we close out the year and get ready for a new one.


There are as many ways to communicate as there are people, and more. What does your communication say about 20140121_090806you?  Before a new patient walks into your clinic they already have an opinion about you.  They probably have experienced you in at least three ways.

How intentionally are you communicating who you are?  When an existing patient tells a friend about you, do you have any idea what they might be saying?  Your website, social media presence, and front desk team should all be communicating in a similar way.

Months ago, I made some sticky notes that I keep on the inside of my door jam to my office.  When I need one, I simply put it on the outside of the closed door.  My intention was so that family could see the note, and know not to enter for the reason posted.  If the situation was dire enough, they could ignore the note.

All three notes indicated “Don’t bother me.”

Recording­ meaning “Do you really want me to have to redo what I’m in the middle of?”

Meditating­ “It only lasts for 20 minutes; If you interrupt I may end up with a migraine.”

NO Creating good stuff­”I’m writing. If you interrupt you will have made it another hour before I can get back into the flow.”

What was I really communicating with three separate notes? “Don’t bother me and here is the reason.”  Because each note gave the picture of what was happening beyond the closed door, the family member had a degree of understanding why I wasn’t available.  What I was communicating was simply, “Don’t bother me.”  How I communicated it, even though each was with a sticky note, gave information and communicated an emotion to the reader. A reader who knows me and understands my business.

About now you may be asking, what exactly am I saying here? Whether you are aware of it or not, you are telling patients about you and your clinic even before they have bib draped around their neck or filled out a HIPAA form. If you aren’t being intentional about who you are.  Joe and Jane Public are forming an opinion about you and they already know you are a dentist.  What kind? (Hint: I’m not asking for your specialty or if you are a General Dentist.)

Are you about a relaxed and casual environment? Are you into the latest technology and newest treatment?  Do you value family and enjoy a specific sport?  When someone phones the office, do they have to go through a number of prompts before reaching a breathing person?  Social media can be used to make appointments and text messaging can confirm them.

What message are you communicating to your patients?  What is on your sticky note? What emotion are you evoking?  Do you need to improve it, tweak it, or actually make a plan for it?

Let’s look at how Strength, Dignity, & Grace show up in your communication.

Strength ­ Realize that you are communicating, whether by default or design, decide you want to communicate who you are, and be deliberate about it.

Dignity ­ You don’t get to blame anyone for your lack of awareness of the importance of communication.

Grace ­ Forgive yourself, if you haven’t developed great communication skills, yet. Now you know.

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