Listening is a difficult skill to master, especially in a busy practice. Listening involves more than just hearing what patients or fellow team members are saying. You also need to be aware of why they're saying it -- and be able to "hear" what they're not saying.
Learn how to listen to coworkers. Most of us can improve our listening skills. Ask what teammates think -- about recent occurrences at the practice, how systems are working, or what improvements can be made -- and then listen carefully to what they say. Acknowledge their comments by asking questions and restating their thoughts to make sure you understand. Listening carefully shows true respect and helps strengthen the team.
Don't forget to use "active listening" with patients. Demonstrate that you understand and respect what patients are saying by listening for their key points and repeating them in your own words in a questioning tone to indicate that you heard correctly. This technique ensures that both parties agree on what's being said and shows patients that you're not just waiting for your turn to talk.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the founder and CEO of Levin Group, the leading dental practice consulting firm in North America. For the complete list of dates and locations where you can attend his latest seminar, visit www.levingroup.com/gpseminars.
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