What not to say

No matter what business you work in, there are certain words and phrases which are specific to you – and some which should be avoided at all costs.lips-zip

Politicians are masters at avoiding using the “wrong” phrases. Rather than saying they are cutting funding for something, they’ll talk about making efficiencies, or they will use incredibly long, convoluted sentences just to avoid using the word “no”. Examples in politics can be a bit extreme, but the logic behind this is sound. By using the right words and phrases, you can change the way someone reacts to what you are telling them – even if the facts of what you are saying remain exactly the same.

Here are five top tips to make sure your patients receive the messages you need them to and you get the best possible response.

1. Jargon: When dealing with patients, use of jargon should be avoided at all costs. From technical medical terms to in-house shorthand terms, phrases which aren’t familiar to most people in every day life can be confusing and worrying. Stick to simple, clear words and phrases when you are speaking to patients and you’ll find they are more relaxed and open to what you are saying.

2. Scary words: Even for patients who are usually at ease in the dentist’s chair, certain words can trigger a nervous response – the word “drill” can conjure up nightmarish noises and memories of exaggerated scenes in horror films. Try replacing these kinds of words with less frightening ones. For example, instead of speaking to a patient about having surgery, use words like “treatment” or “procedure”. They are far less worrying and will lead the patient to focus on the end result, rather than the imagined pain or discomfort they will have to endure.

3. Can’t: There will always be some cases when you are unable to live up to a patient’s expectations, whether it is the results they are expecting from your treatment or the overall experience of their visit. The language you use in response to these situations can make a huge difference to their outcome. Instead of telling a patient, “We can’t do that” or “You can’t have that” try focusing on something positive, such as making an alternative proposal which is just as good or even better.

4. I or me: By using the word “we” from the outset, you will draw patients in and give them a sense of involvement in the work you are doing. A dentist who uses the word “I” when describing the treatments gives the patient the impression that everything is being done to them and they have to sit back and let it happen. By saying “we are going to do this…” you can help the patient to feel you are working together for their benefit. It sounds simple, but it really does make a difference.

5. Shush!: One of the most important things a dentist can do is listen – it’s not all about talking to (or even at) your patients. Make it clear you are happy to answer any questions, then ensure there are enough breaks in the conversation for your patient to speak before you begin the procedure. Give clear, concise answers in language they can understand. Again, this will ensure your patient feels they are involved in their treatment and will give them a greater feeling of satisfaction at the end.

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