The second emotional outcome in building positive emotional momentum is empathy.

This starts during your one-on-one conversation. Empathy is about understanding patients’; how their dental conditions interfere in their lives.

Empathy is discovering the lifestyle benefits they seek, and how dentistry needs to fit into their lives. 

Here’s a bit of my experience from consulting with hundreds of dentists for decades; most dentists don’t know why patients want their teeth fixed. Dentists know what conditions patients aren’t happy about, but often they don’t know the lifestyle benefits patients seek. 

When patients feel understood, they begin to see dentists as trustworthy. Patients hesitate to trust dentists who don’t understand them.  

To discover patients’ benefits, we must first discover their lifestyle disability. This disability is emotional in nature; the disability is not in their mouths; it’s how they feel about their conditions. They’re embarrassed, scared, frustrated, angry, worried, or they may have given up hope altogether. The lifestyle benefits they seek are always the emotional opposites of their disabilities. To discover patients’ disabilities means engaging in a conversation about how their current dental health limits them. 

For example, after learning your patient is concerned about their appearance ask, “Tell me about a time when this bothers you the most. Is this something that gets in your way at work or home?” A big part of it is listening closely and making no treatment recommendations. 

There’s an art to leading patients to talk about how they feel about their dental condition.

Show authentic interest in how they feel. Be curious about their day-to-day experiences with their dental conditions. Be a good listener. Complex patients often need to know it’s okay to talk about how they feel. They don’t get that opportunity much in the healthcare environment.

Listen for more than what’s being said. 

It enables you to offer answers that make patients feel truly heard. Listen closely, and you’ll discover their disability. The behavioral lifestyle benefit they seek is always the opposite emotion of the disability. The behavioral benefit is the driver of treatment acceptance of complex care patients. Discover and acknowledge behavioral benefits patients seek so they know you understand them. Giving patients the emotional outcome of empathy – of being understood – takes you another step up in accelerating emotional momentum. 

The importance of empathy can’t be overstated. That’s why a big part of my online program, Making It Easy for Patients to Say “YES!” is the verbal skills to discover patients’ disabilities and discuss the behavioral benefits they seek. Our next video is the fourth in this series of 8 and is about Advocacy, the third critical aspect for appealing to complex care patients.