Dear Coach: Advice for a dentist who knows his patients are fearful

December 6, 2015

Cathy Warschaw from Up All Night Coaching hands out advice and helps you through some of your trickiest situations.

Editor's Note: “Dear Coach” is a new column bringing you the best of coaching for dentists and dental professionals from Up All Night Coaching. With Certified Master Coaches reviewing and answering you questions, you will be introduced to the unique benefits coaching can provide you.

Reducing stress while learning how to enjoy both your work world and your home life is the goal of coaching. Please submit any questions you would like our coaches to answer to dpr@upallnightcoaching.com.
Your personal information will remain anonymous.

Dear Coach,
 
I have been a dentist for several years and I still find it hard to offer dental care that I know will be the most beneficial and of the highest standard when I know that the patient doesn’t even want to be in the chair having dental work done. You know they have had a bad experience before or are afraid every time they go to the dentist. I love my work, but it is so challenging to have to make the experience different for people.

 
Sincerely,
 
Dr. Don’t Be Afraid This Wont Hurt a Bit

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Read the answer on page 2...

 

Dear Dr. Don’t Be Afraid This Won’t Hurt A Bit,
 
Your concerns are totally valid and reasonable. I admire what you do because there is a certain amount of fear that people have around going to the dentist. Fear usually comes up around feeling powerless or not knowing what to expect. Considering that fearful people react in many different ways, what challenges come up in catering to everyone? What can you do to create a more pleasant experience for your patients? How could you manage those feelings for your patients? How can you present the procedures to your patients so they don’t seem so scary? A great skill in dealing with fearful people is acknowledging and validating, so let your patients know that you hear their fear and understand that they have had a bad experience in another office. However, you will try to create a different experience for them. Perhaps ask them what they may need to make this happen.

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Secondly, you are the expert and that is why your patients come to you. Are you making assumptions about how people feel or are they telling you this? How can you be authentic and make the suggestions you feel are best? How authentic do you feel when you know what is right … and say nothing at all? What does it feel like when people don’t take your suggestions? How do you manage your own frustrations? What are your fears around a patient saying no? What does it say about you when your patients don’t take your recommendations? How can you look at their refusals in a different way? Remember, courage is defined as being afraid and doing it anyway. So, even though a rejection may take place, knowing that you have done and said all you can is sometimes the best you can do. Also, you may have “planted a seed” in the mind of your patient who may decide to take your suggestion at a later date.

 
Perhaps look at your own fears around being rejected when you give professional advice. I imagine that it must be confusing and frustrating when a patient comes to you for your expertise and then there is no follow-through. I am sure you have their best health in mind, but you are also building a practice so there is a lot going on for you. I hope I have provided some clarity and perhaps something to consider.

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Author's Note: Up All Night Coaching provides dentists and dental professionals with three unique coaching packages. Please visit upallnightcoaching.com/dental to set up a complementary 15-minute Introductory Session to answer any questions you may have, or you may contact us at dpr@upallnightcoaching.com.