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How Dentists Build Trust for Case Acceptance

In this conversation with Patient Prism’s Deborah E. Bush, Dr. Barry F. Polansky, author of “The Art of Case Presentation,” talks about the five essential behaviors dentists should habitually practice in order to build patient trust for case acceptance. 

According to Polansky, you cannot control other people's thoughts, feelings, or actions, but you can influence them. Once you realize that you can move people in the direction that would be better for them, you become a leader. 

If you've been practicing dentistry long enough, you know the sweetest words the patient can say to you is ‘Whatever you say, Doc. I trust you,’” says Polansky. It verifies what you have been doing to build what Covey calls “the emotional bank account.” 

Bush raises the concern that patients come through the front door and out the back door so fast, there isn’t sufficient time and frequency of contact to build trust. 

“The question becomes ‘How do you develop trust?’ especially if you don't have the time,” says Polansky. The silent question people are always asking is “Can I trust you to put me ahead of yourself? Can I trust you to do the job?”

If the job is simple like a filling, you can get case acceptance. But, if the job is a full mouth reconstruction case with implants, that's a whole different level of trust says Polansky. “And so, what do you do as this leader to develop that trust? What are some of the things that you could do? Well number one is don't have a self-focused agenda. It's not about you. It never was about you.”

Polansky says research has demonstrated that trust is the fastest and most efficient motivator in human existence. But, “with people, fast is slow and slow is fast,” says Polansky. In other words, the faster you go in and present treatment, it will slow down trust. But, if you slow down and spend time with people, they'll make their decision faster. It’s wonderful to give time to people to build that level of trust. But, when you have someone standing over you, saying you can only give 15 minutes and no more to a patient, that’s undermining trust and autonomy.”

Polansky speaks of five actions he knows build trust. One is the self-focused agenda has got to go. Number two is to stop judging patients. The third is to validate what people do and say. The fourth is to lean on reason and rationale and not be emotional. The fifth is to be generous with your energy. Go the extra mile and spend extra time with patients. The roots of these five self-interventions are in the field of Positive Psychology. By viewing this video, you will gain understanding of the five.

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