How to Improve Communication Between Patients and Dental Staff
Feeling like you are speaking and someone is not hearing you is one of the most frustrating things in the world, especially if you are speaking to someone who plays a vital role in your life and health, like a dentist. As a professional in the dental industry, you have the power to create an open and communication friendly environment for your patients. One excellent way to do this is to use reflective listening.
Let’s take a look at how utilizing simple tools like reflective listening can help make a positive impact on your patient and staff communication ties.
How Can Reflective Listening Help?
A lot of people are afraid of going to the dentist. Even some dental hygienists and dental assistants do not like having their mouth examined because it is a rather uncomfortable time. While typically painless, there is a sort of anxiety about having someone poking around inside of your oral cavity that is undeniable. Due to this, many people feel tense and uncomfortable during their appointments.
You can help to put them at ease by using reflective listening. At its core, reflective listening is paying close attention to what the person you are speaking to is saying and reflecting back a summary of it to them. For example, if someone is telling you they are concerned about the process hurting, repeating back, “So, I’m hearing that you are afraid that the cleaning will hurt, right?”, will give them the opportunity to agree or even explain why they think a painless procedure will hurt, allowing you better insight into their mindset and concerns.
This also allows them to feel heard, as it is obvious that you had to have been listening in order to be able to repeat back to them what they just said. This makes them feel validated and understood, which creates the opportunity for a more comfortable environment to be upfront in the future. This makes your job easier since they then feel better about communicating, they are more likely to tell you about the presence of issues like toothaches and potential cavities,
When a patient is speaking in the clinical setting, it can be a little hard to focus on exactly what they are saying with all of the background noise of working inside of a busy facility that is buzzing around you. Ringing phones, beeping machines, and other conversations can all bleed in, as can your own thoughts.
This creates a situation where you are only half-listening and your client may not feel heard, which can be offputting, especially if they are afraid or concerned about some aspect of the visit. Therefore, make sure you try your best to stay alert and focused with each and every patient.
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