A conversation is a two way process.
It’s a dialogue between two people.
But never less than two.
One person speaking and one person not is called a monologue.
Or a lecture.
These are not fun to deliver and are certainly no fun to be on the receiving end of either.
The art of conversation is therefore a process that occurs between two people where both feel a benefit of having been involved in the conversation.
A conversation should have purpose.
It should conclude with a result.
A result of significance.
Otherwise it is simply fluff.
In the Dental Office a great team know how to divert their conversations from fluff to purpose.
Conversations about weather are fluff.
You cannot change the weather.
Weather is just what it is.
In the dental office you do not want to be known as “the weather girl.”
“Please don’t put me with that dental assistant. All she ever talks about is the weather.”
Is this someone in your dental office?
“Hasn’t it been hot?”
“How about all this snow?”
“I wish it would stop raining.”
These are statements of fluff.
We can’t change the weather.
What if our patient brings up the weather?
When our patient brings up the weather this is our opportunity to segway our conversation back to discuss something about the patient.
The purpose of conversation with our patient is to find out more about our patient.
We want to be able to relate better with all our patients, so we need to divert our conversations back to talking about the patient as best we can at every opportunity.
Get the patient talking about their favourite topic: Themselves.
This is simple.
Everybody loves to talk about themselves.
Talking about ourselves in the Dental Office is fluff.
As employees in a dental office we need to be mindful that we should not be talking about ourselves, but rather, we should be talking about our patients at every opportunity.
It’s a true skill to be able to divert the conversation back to talking about the patient.
But it’s a skill that can be learned and easily mastered.
Patients will feel very relaxed when they are talking about themselves.
It puts the patient at ease.
And time passes more easily for the patient it seems.
When they talk about themselves they appear less worried about the passing of time.
When patients are left unattended, or are talking about topics banal, they tend to be more concerned about punctuality.
The subject of time is fluff.
“I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas.”
“I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone.”
As a dentist, I’m a scientist.
And as far as I know, the earth does not speed up, and then slow down, as it revolves around the sun.
It travels at a constant speed.
And it rotates on it’s own axis at a constant speed.
This means, that a week now, in December, is exactly the same amount of time, as a week in March.
And an hour this week takes exactly the same amount of time to pass as an hour did back in April.
Time is a constant.
So when a patient says to you that they can’t believe it’s only three weeks to Christmas, you need to say something like this:
“Sounds like you’ve been busy? Have you finished your Christmas shopping?”
“How do you spend Christmas?”
“Are you going away at Christmas?”
These gentle questions deflect the conversation away from the fluff and back to our most important topic, the patient.
We can learn so much more about the patient when we are listening to the patient talking about themselves, rather than us just prattling on about ourselves, or fluff.
When we hear the patient talking about themselves it’s important to take note of what they say so that we can relay our conversations to other team members who may be able to use these topics to discuss with the patient at a later time during the appointment or at a subsequent appointment.
Patients will find you interesting if you are *INTERESTED* in them.
It’s that simple.
If you can ask the patient questions that divert the conversation back to talking about the patient, the patients will feel that you are the most interesting person they have met in a long time.
Don’t know what to ask the patient to talk about?
There are four topics you can ask that will have the person you are speaking with talking for hours.
Ask your patients about their family.
“Do you have any brothers and sisters?”
“Do they live nearby?”
This topic is easy to get the patients talking on.
“What do you do for a living?”
“Do you work nearby?”
“Have you been there long?”
“You must really like that?”
The topic of occupation is such an easy one to have your patients talking about.
“What do you have planned for the weekend?”
“What’s that book you’re reading?”
“What are you knitting?”
“Do you play [that sport] yourself?”
“Sounds like you spend a lot of time [doing that]?”
Everybody has ways of passing time.
Reading. Watching movies. Exercising. Hobbies.
Dreams or Desires.
“What do you want to do when you finish school?”
“Have you ever been to see the pyramids?”
“Have you ever been on a cruise?”
Everybody has a “bucket list” of sorts.
“My husband and I have been planning this trip for ages.”
It’s simply a matter of us having our radars up and listening for topics that the patient mentions that we can get them expanding upon.
“That sounds interesting…”
“Tell me more…”
Keeping the patient talking about their favourite topic will have them raving about the service at your office.
Everybody has a story to tell.
An interesting story to tell.
It’s our job to draw those stories out of our patients.
When we master that skill, we will be the most interesting person they will have met in a long long time.
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