Back to Blog

3 Steps for Better Communication With Your Patients

administration business continuing education relationships teamwork workplace Jun 04, 2024

In the dental profession, having great clinical skills is crucial. However, exceptional communication skills are equally important. They enable you to do more of the dentistry you love and help more patients effectively. Here are 3 steps for better communication with your patients: 

1. Know Your Audience

  • Get to Know Your Patients: Understand who they are, what matters most to them, and their future goals. Avoid jumping straight into an exam without “getting to know you” time. This can create confusion and overwhelm the patient with your expertise, making the conversation one-sided. Build trust and connection by asking questions like:
    • What kind of experiences have you had in the past with dentists?
    • What’s most important to you today?
    • What do you want for your future dental health?
    • Are there things you’ve experienced in the past that you don’t want to repeat?
    • When would you prefer to discuss any concerns I find—immediately or when it becomes more urgent?

Always think about the best possible outcome for them. Understand their needs and work backwards to deliver what they need to hear and do.

2. Craft Your Message

  • Appeal to Their Priorities: Use the knowledge you have about your patients to tailor your approach. Sometimes, focus on the big picture and long-term solutions. Other times, take baby steps by addressing immediate needs, like pain relief, before moving to more extensive treatments. Align your communication with their current life situation to make your recommendations meaningful and effective.

3. Lower Barriers to Engagement

  • Identify and Address Common Obstacles: Most patients face barriers like time, money, pain, or ambivalence.
    • Time: Ask if they prefer fewer, longer visits or multiple shorter visits.
    • Money: Discuss treatment options that fit their budget.
    • Pain: Offer solutions like sedation during treatment.
    • Ambivalence: Find out what’s most important to them today to prevent worsening conditions or higher future costs.
  • Connect Emotionally: Use storytelling to create emotional resonance. Share stories of how you’ve helped other patients in similar situations. Highlight the significant changes in their quality of life, not just the procedures.

The Power of Storytelling

Think of yourself as a storyteller. Humans understand and relate to their lives through stories. Bringing emotional resonance into your communication maximizes the chance of engagement and motivates patients to take action for their future.

For example, a patient once told me she felt embarrassed about her mouth and wanted to flirt with her husband again. By focusing on her quality of life and what was possible for her future, we made a real difference in her life and marriage.

Using these three steps in your communication with patients is not always easy, but it leads to higher treatment acceptance. Patients feel involved in designing their care, leading to better outcomes and more satisfaction for you as a dentist. Remember these steps before seeing your next patient to enhance your communication skills and build stronger relationships.

Don't miss a beat!

New moves, motivation, and classes delivered to your inbox. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.