The Power of the… Pause

24 Apr

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Those of us who have had a career in dentistry have been taught and conditioned to present a solution as soon as we hear a problem. Listening without speaking actually runs counter to the instincts of not only our communication with patients, but to sales in general. In fact, we live in a society where it’s a habit for many people to interrupt.

How you feel when you’re interrupted before you finish your thoughts? Do you feel frustrated? Annoyed? Like you are being sold to? Listening carefully to patients isn’t easy but the rewards are great.

Here’s a powerful tip for successful case acceptance – the pause. This means waiting, and not jumping in at the first opportunity.

Reasons to pause:

• Your patients may be simply stopping to take a breath, or to gather their thoughts.

• They may be gauging your interest in their point of view, to see if you’re listening or simply waiting to jump in. When you resist the urge to jump in, you are often pleasantly surprised to hear that there’s more, and it is important.

• Most people feel uncomfortable with silence, so they rush in to fill the void. Instead of you rushing in, why not let your patient fill the void?

• Your patients feel validated and important when you give them a chance to elaborate on their thoughts.

• Pausing gives you time to think before you respond to a question or objection.

How to pause –

• Minimize distractions. Focus on your patient! If you look out
the window, or think about lunch, or the patient that is waiting in the next room, your mind will jump and you could completely miss valuable information. Your patients know when you are distracted.

• Use the most natural reason to pause, which is curiosity. If you really want to hear what your patient has to say you will pause naturally as you wait for them to elaborate.

* Ask a question with the intent to get an answer. And really listen to the answer, paying attention to what motivates your patient rather than making assumptions or trying to ‘plant’ answers. Asking ‘What else?’ can always get you to the next level of information with your patients.

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