Four Steps to Really Improving Communications in the Office

In To the Point by David BlackLeave a Comment

Do you have endless consultants with endless recommendations on how to improve office communications? Learn the REAL way to communicate better. Four self-taught skills that will make your team REALLY communicate better.


How many seminars have you attended where the speaker gets to the topic of Improving Communications, and you hear the same thing you have heard twenty times before?

What does that really mean?

Do you just sit down with your team and discuss listening better and asking feeling questions?

Do you role-play some script about “How do you feel about that”?

Will that somehow magically make you communicate better?

If you counted up the number of times I conducted that exercise in the forty years of practice, you would understand the definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.”

I believe my team communicated better than most I know. We liked each other and got along pretty well. Telling each other to communicate better had little or no effect on the fact we did communicate better than most teams.

I think we had a group that as a whole were emotionally intelligent and picked up on behavior cues of each other and our clients. We could have done much better if we had done this intentionally and with some instruction.

We did a DiSC profile on our team and knew our individual preference and tendencies on how we liked to interact with each other. I think the missing link that would have made us much more effective would have been to study and practice Intentional Emotional Intelligence.

The four steps to becoming Emotionally Intelligent are:

  1. Become self-aware of your own emotions. When you are tense or relaxed, happy or sad, you need to be aware that you feel this way, how it effects you, how you react when you feel this way, and how it effects how you interact with other people when you have each of these emotions. That is called Mindfulness.
  2. Being able to control your own emotions.  When stressed do you blow up, do you lash out, or do you pull back and withdrawal from others? Do you raise your voice or do you go silent.? You need to be able to be retrospective about how you act, how that affects your relationship with others, and how you need to improve your reaction to make your relationships better.
  3. Learn to recognize emotions in others.  If you can identify what you feel, and how that looks and how you act when you feel various emotions, that is the start of recognizing these same emotions and reactions in others. This is what is meant when we were told to communicate better with others. We recognize when we have hit a hot button, when we have gone one step too far, but also when we are in the sweet spot when talking to others. Body language changes when we have gone in either direction. We will slowly get better at this with practice.
  4. Being able to manage our relationships is the fourth key. This is the real application that creates good things in a dental practice. Using these skills, we lead and manage our team better. This is easy to say, hard to do. Most of us Left-brained individuals will take longer than our Right-brained counterparts, but we can learn a new skill. This also is a key to increased treatment acceptance. This all starts with using this skill in the initial interview with our patients, actively listening, learning to understand the emotions they are having, and understanding what we need to do about it.

It is more complicated than this simple article, but this is a good place to start. There are several books out there on Emotional Intelligence, with the seminal one being, “Emotional Intelligence”, by Daniel Goleman written in 1995. This is a relatively new branch of psychology, that is gaining more and more traction based on the brain science outlined in this book.

The second suggestion to improve your emotional intelligence is to read my book, “DENTAL EQ”, that makes specific observations about how this applies to dentistry.  It is available on Kindle or Amazon.

Dip your toe into these waters. Since I started by reading this book, I have become more and more convinced there is a way we can improve our Emotional Intelligence by learning Mindfulness, and then applying that skill to the other steps necessary to understand yourself and others better.

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