This Will Cause (Or Eliminate) 99% Of Your Problems: Bad Communication!

Friday Finish: April 3, 2020

I bet your email inbox has been bombarded this week with “COVID-19” messages. Although it’s important and crucial that we pay attention to what’s going on in our country right now, it’s not something that will likely dramatically affect the rest of your life. When the housing crisis hit in 2008, everyone was talking “doomsday” on housing and many experts believed that housing was in the tank for decades. But over the next 12 years, housing values had one of their best runs ever. Through early 2020, home prices have been hitting all time highs. So while we can ignore what’s going on in the world, this Friday Finish will give you some mental clarity on how you can move forward with confidence in the future of your dental practice. 

Earlier in this book, I wrote about communication and how it is rarely or barely taught to us in formal education, but how vital it is to the success of a practice or business. Some time ago, one of our treatment coordinators and I were invited to a Dental Treatment seminar in Las Vegas. The group discussed different types of dental and orthodontic treatment, and how we could better serve our patients and team members at the office.

In a sense, the seminar was all about communication. Although this wasn’t the specific topic, I am a strong believer that nearly all of our problems in our personal and professional relationship can be prevented with great communication.

I’m not talking about sending more text messages (I’m not a big texted anyway – just ask my wife, it drives her nuts), or doing more talking. I’m talking about really working to understand each other and the people we are around every day. I sincerely belive that good communication can eliminate 99.9% of your problems. Here’s why:

Communication is like a 3-legged chair 

Leg 1 – Effective delivery of information

Leg 2 – Behavior of the recipient

Leg 3 – Retention of information

Professor Albert Mehrabian at UCLA ran a study back in the 1960’s about communication. He later published a book about this and more, entitled Nonverbal Communication. Here’s what his research discovered:

55% of effective communication is in the non-verbal exchange.

38% of effective communication is in the verbal exchange.

7% of effective communication is in the words you say.

The research further found that there are 5 behaviors you go through when you are marking a decision, such as making a new purchase:

  1. Problem recognition
  2. Information gathering
  3. Evaluation
  4. Purchase decision
  5. Post-purchase decision

Finally, as described by Dr. L.D. Rosenblum in his book See What I’m Saying and from the website Velvet Chainsaw, all communication is received through your 5 senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. It’s important to understand which of the senses are more dominant to you and those you work with, as we all process and value certain ways of communication differently. They concluded that dividing amongst your senses, you retain:

83% of what you SEE

11% of what you HEAR

3.5% of what you SMELL

1.5% of what you TOUCH

1% of what you TASTE

In summary, this is why visuals such as presentations, video and pictures are such powerful tools. If, according to the UCLA research, effective communication is 55% non-verbal and 38% verbal, this equals 93% of communication is in the sound and sight.

Couple that with retention of informatio, based on Dr. Rosenblum, which discovered that 83% of your senses are based upon what you see, and 11% are based upon what you hear, this equals 94%, again based on sight and sound.

Finally, for you math geeks like me, averaging 93% and 94% gives you 93.5%, that’s an A! This Is a very high percentage strategy to eliminate your problems and boost your case acceptance from your patients. Remember, only 7% of communication was based upon the actual words said. This is why the old saying about “actions speak louder than words” still rings true today. 

This must be why I distinctly remember all of the dumb things my friends did as teenagers trying to impress each other, or all of the things I learned in high school health class that scared the life out of me!

Recently I read an article about new shoes that are controlled by an app, so that you can be glued to your phone while walking down the street, and the app will tell your shoes which way to turn. MRI scans have been done on the brains of millennials (I am just barely a millennial, so I can speak from experience) and found that opening a digital message is much less impactful than opening a real letter, or interacting with printed media such as a book. Technology definitely has its place, but I don’t think it will ever replace REAL, one-on-one communication. Remember this next time you are communicating with your spouse, team members and patients.

Use the M.A.P.S.S. Case Acceptance tool to leverage communication by understanding the tone and body language of your patients to show them how much you care and to help them accept treatment that is in line with the outcome that they want.

If you would like to receive more information like this or provide your feedback, simply send me an email at and put “Friday Finish” in the subject line, or you can get free Practice Growth tips on my weekly blog here.

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