As a practice owner, you know the key to an excellent patient experience is first establishing excellent communication with your team: making your intentions and expectations clear in person, in a group, and in writing. It is one of the best ways to retain your best team members, and it naturally flows into how patients are treated.
Is it simple? Not always. Communication in the workplace is always a delicate matter. It needs to be deliberate and appropriate to the medium and the situation. As a dental educator and a business owner, I have learned that the intended message doesn’t always come through, so mastering all communication styles and mediums is to any leader’s advantage. Here are five tips for clear and effective communication.
Communicate to be understood. Always strive to make your intention clear through your choice of words, volume, tone, and cadence.
Master clear text communication. Email is the most used business communication medium: it’s quick and unobtrusive. It can also be misunderstood. When you’re juggling three other tasks and a team member fires off a question, it’s easy to resort to a terse reply that answers the question but might feel harsh or dismissive to the employee. If the issue can’t wait, take an extra moment and answer with care.
Avoid one-word answers; add a promise to deliver a more detailed explanation later, and close with a thank you. Adding a few extra words can make a world of difference in the employee’s day. Finally, do not use all caps, exclamation marks, and emojis. They can be easily misconstrued and are just not businesslike.
Schedule regular face-to-face time. Huddles and team meetings are an essential part of team life, but they are no substitute for one-on-one interaction. Schedule check-ins with each team member regularly. That is your chance to listen with intention to concerns and to answer questions more thoughtfully. Face time is the best way to check for understanding and gain valuable feedback. It’s also important to listen more than you speak. Nonverbal cues are as important as what is said, and sometimes more.
Master your emotions. The leader in you knows how important it is to keep negative emotions in check, even as the human being in you is eager to let off steam. Always be mindful of how your message will be received. If you’re angry or frustrated, reschedule that team meeting or wait before hitting “send” on that email. Take deep breaths, take a short walk, or tackle another task until you feel in control.
Never stop learning. Most of us think we are better communicators than we are in practice. Of course, for some people, effective speaking and writing do come naturally, but the other 99 percent of us have room to improve.
With dedication and practice, you can be the communicator — and leader — your employees want to work with for the long term.
For inspiration, watch effective speakers around you and on YouTube. Look for business writing resources on the Internet, and join our free private Facebook group, Dentistry’s Growing with Grace, to enrich your overall marketing and communication skills. For assistance with marketing your dental practice or to engage me as a motivational speaker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our contact form.