By James V. Anderson, DMD, CEO/Founder eAssist Dental Solutions
When you first open a dental practice, you may not have what you consider a “team” of people. There may be you and one other person that helps at the chair and at the front desk. Even so, developing emotional intelligence is critical to communicating with your employee(s) and your patients. “Emotional Intelligence” simply put is the ability to handle even the most awkward social situations with aplomb and make others feel at ease.
I know, they don’t teach this in dental school and I wish that they did. When you open a new practice or buy an existing one there will be days when you are pushed to your limit and keeping your cool under pressure is slipping through your fingers. Recognizing and understanding your own emotions is a critical part of emotional intelligence. To become self-aware, you should be capable of monitoring your own emotions and how you are perceived by others. Self-regulation requires that you manage your emotional response in a proper fashion. When communicating with staff or patients there is the right time and the right place to express your emotions. Learning important social skills that include active listening, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, leadership, empathy and persuasiveness is vital to building your reputation as a caring clinician.
One of the most important skills you can learn is that of empathy. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes for even just a moment will help you to communicate with care. Patients will present you with their dental needs and at the same time, with empathy, you will be able to sense when they are feeling sad, angry or depressed. Understanding your patient’s state of mind is key to emotional intelligence.
Motivating your staff to improve their skills and be accountable for doing great work is a key component of emotional intelligence. Some people are not motivated by money and rewards, but have a passion that goes beyond the external. Being attuned to this type of behavior will help you show your commitment to their development.
From my experience, getting coaching in this area from the very beginning of your practice development will help you create an environment where your patients and employees will want to stay, be loyal and promote you to the community.
Sources to help in your quest to improve emotional intelligence:
Goleman, D. (1998) Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York Bantam
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry
James V. Anderson DMD is a practicing dentist in Syracuse, Utah and is the CEO/Founder of eAssist Dental Solutions, the largest national dental insurance billing company (www.dentalbilling.com) in the U.S.
Dr. Anderson understands the challenges facing today’s dental teams and since 2009 has been providing proven solutions to dental/medical insurance billing, patient portion billing, accounting for dentists and related services for management of the accounts receivables. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org