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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Go Big or Go Home,"

Communication Part 2:

Communication is multiple processes and skills. We all have different communication styles. For example, you send an email to the office manager. This email is communication and you are counting on the receiver of the information to effectively read and follow through with the email. Next, you head in to see a patient and the hygienist catches you outside and delivers a verbal message. Now, you are relying on the hygienist to hear the patient correctly and relay the appropriate message to you. You also communicate by reading messages in chart notes and then communicating your thoughts on those ideas to your dental assistant. All of these interactions require different types of communication and multiple points of possible communication breakdowns.

Here are five ways to increase the effectiveness of your communication.

1.  Repeat what people are saying to you in your head as they are saying it, instead of thinking about the point you want to make when they finish. Many times we listen just long enough to believe we know what they are going to say and then tune out to what is really said. This technique is not only important for better communication it also helps improve overall listening. You can truly communicate and fix the problem when you actually know what is being said. However, an extra benefit of this skill is that now you can stop, take a step back and analyze a persons non-verbal communication.

2.  Control your emotions in order to control what you say. It is easy to be in the heat of the moment and say something you dont mean. Take the time to cool down and think about what you want to say.  That way when you have that important conversation you can do so with a level head.  What you say matters, and you need to make sure no matter what is said that you follow through with it. If you are mad or frustrated you may make empty threats.  Or you may have to follow through with something you really dont want to. Once something is said you cannot take it back and the damage is done.

3. Be honest and clear in your expectations. It doesnt do any good if you are skirting around the issue without really saying what it is that you want to have happen. It is really important when you are communicating with others that they know what it is you are expecting.  The point of a conversation is to convey desires, wishes or expectations. If you do not set honest expectations then you lose the point of the conversation and you wind up exactly where you were before. You walk away frustrated because you intended for your message to say one thing, but you end up sending a completely different message. 

4. Align your nonverbal communication with your verbal communication. Non-verbal communication encompasses everything from how you stand, to the emotions you let show on your face.  If you are going to have a serious conversation then your body language needs to convey the same message. You want to have clear expectations when you are speaking and your non-verbal communication can confuse the person you are speaking to if your body language says one thing and your mouth says something completely different.  Dont send mixed messages. Instead, align verbal and non-verbal communication by asking the receiver of the message what they heard.

5. Make sure you understand the message you are receiving from your team members. Ask for clarification when you are unsure what they said or meant. Re-say what they have said in order to make sure you comprehend what they told you. It is easy to misinterpret the message when you are tired, frustrated or busy. However, if you stop and take the time to communicate efficiently you will save yourself from big trouble later on.

It is important to create respectful, open and safe lines of communication.  If you set the tone of the office so all individuals when they speak to each other, no matter the issue, will do so in a courteous manner, then they will. As the leader, you set the tone in the work place and its important for you to model the communication you believe is acceptable.

Communication is something that everyone does often. You send quick emails, receive a text or ask someone where your instruments are. No matter whether you are under pressure or have all the time in the world, it is important to lay the groundwork for good quality communication between yourself and your team.

When conflict and discourse happen often it creates unnecessary problems in your office. This same disrespect can then translate to your patients and eventually to your bottom line. It takes work to create positive communication skills and this is something you may need to work on. For example, practice what you are going to say before you have that difficult conversation with an employee. Look in the mirror and make sure your facial expressions and body language match your tone. Watch for their nonverbal communication so you can read the situation and adjust, as you need to.

Practice makes things go smoother. Take the time with your team to work together to have strong communication skills. Use role-play before anyone speaks with a difficult patient. Work on aligning your body with your words. Make eye contact and nod at appropriate times, do deep breathing exercises to calm your emotions when an angry patient is yelling. And work on listening to pull out the true problem the patient is having.

Its time to think big and communicate big. Dont wait for a miscommunication to increase the drama in your office. Work now to create successful communication exchanges tomorrow.

Great teams take effort. Take time to work on your practice regularly to build quality communication and strengthen your results. For more information and to read other articles, please visit us at www.saltdpm.com.

Austine Etcheverry is a positive, dedicated professional with over 10 years of experience in the dental field. Austine has a keen eye for designing websites and blogs. She has experience in social media and search engine optimization.

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