Beyond Words – Cueing Up Better Patient Conversations

Good communication doesn’t just happen. Often it’s our nonverbal messages that make or break an interaction. In a dental office, poor nonverbal skills can raise anxiety levels in already nervous patients, while excellent communication can put them right at ease. Here are a few things to consider when interacting with your patients to set the tone for better conversations.

Posture and Position

The way that you sit or stand while speaking to a patient sets the tone for the interaction before you even open your mouth. Make sure that you’re not sitting slouched over or with your arms crossed, which can make you appear closed off and annoyed. Instead, try sitting with an open posture and turning fully to face your patients as they enter.

Eye Contact and Facial Expressions

We’ve all walked into an office where the person working at the front desk gives a standard greeting and motions to a sign-in sheet without ever looking away from their computer screen. To make your practice more welcoming, take the time to pause and make eye contact when someone walks in.

While you’re being mindful of your posture and eye contact, try to maintain an awareness of your facial expressions, too. It’s all too easy to slip into a scowl while you’re working or deep in thought. Patients can easily misread an expression and may be hesitant to ask for help when needed. Do your best to hold a pleasant “resting face” – this can subconsciously improve your mood as well. Greeting patients with eye contact and a smile makes them feel valued, and they will associate your practice with being known and welcomed as an individual.

Tone and Cadence

Now that you’ve adjusted your body language, consider the manner in which you speak. Is your speech rapid and flat, like you’re reciting a script, or are you using a clear, even voice with a positive tone?

This is especially important when speaking on the phone. It may feel odd at first, but try smiling even during phone conversations – your voice will naturally adjust to sound more amiable.

Being mindful of your nonverbal messages helps build trust, making treatment conversations easier. From there, DentalForms can help you focus on what’s relevant to each patient.  By highlighting both patients’ health changes and new treatment opportunities, DentalForms helps make the most of your treatment time.

Click here to learn how DentalForms can help you start great conversations with your patients.