The Lost Art of Listening

Hello, I am Dr. Hughes.

Family Dentistry, Dr. Hughes DMD

In this age of texts, email, Instagram, Twitter, online everything; conversation, communication, and emotional interaction are becoming a thing of the past. I was boarding a plane recently and as I was walking down the aisle to find my seat; I saw three young ladies sitting in a row all on their phones at the same time scrolling or texting. The absence of any interaction between them was so very evident and sad. They were inches apart from each other yet in their own separate worlds.  

This lack of personal interaction is also becoming commonplace in the healthcare field. Online forms, online scheduling, press one for this, press two for this; it can be quite a task to finally get a real person to talk to.  

I believe that what people are really in need of today is exactly that, someone to talk to. Someone who will sit eye to eye and knee to knee with them and really listen to their needs, cares, and concerns. One of the key teachings at the Pankey Institute, a center for higher dental education in Florida, is to know your patient. This is a key to building a successful and fulfilling trust relationship between the dental office and the patient. This practice must be felt throughout the office and among every member of the dental staff. We all have things going on in our lives that affect any and every decision we make each day. As health care providers, we must be aware that those things can affect decisions regarding dental care. We cannot make that assessment unless we take the time to listen to the patient.  

So, here are some very important things to look for when choosing a dentist or any other health care provider for that matter.

Things to consider when choosing a dentist

  1. Is the office warm and welcoming both outside and inside?
  2. Are you greeted with a smile and by name when you walk in?
  3. Does the person who greets you look you in the eye when talking with you?
  4. Does the dental assistant or the hygienist take the time to talk with you and listen to what you have to say before starting any procedure?
  5. Do they explain what they are going to do?
  6. When the doctor sees you, does he or she get eye to eye and knee to knee to get to know you and to really listen to your dental goals, cares, and concerns?
  7. Does the doctor take the time to explain to you any recommendations they have and to allow you to ask any and all questions you might have? 
  8. Are you comfortable in the office? More importantly, does every experience you have from the moment you walk in, to the moment you leave, lend itself towards cultivating a healthy trust relationship with the office?

If you can answer yes to these eight questions, you probably have found a dental home for you, your family and friends. I believe Maya Angelou said it best:
“I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  

R. Michael Hughes, DMD



R. Michael Hughes, DMD


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