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Know Yourself, Know Your Team - Effective Communication Strategies With Your Team

As you know communicating effectively & consistently with your team right now is critical. You need and want them with you and knowing without question that you care about their well being.

Here are some effective strategies that can assist you and your team to calmly and successfully navigate life during a pandemic.

Effective communication doesn't just happen.

We need to factor in:

- who are we communicating with?

- what type of language does my audience need?

- what is the outcome I am seeking to achieve from this communication?

- how do I want my audience to respond?

- how do I want my audience to feel both during & after this communication?

In my 30 years of working with dentists' & their teams I have completed literally thousands of Myers Briggs Type Indicator profiles (MBTI). This psychological tool is really useful in not only understanding ourselves and how we prefer to communicate but also in knowing exactly how to effectively communicate with those around us. MBTI is also a terrific tool in assisting team development.

Brief overview of MBTI Principles:

After completing a comprehensive MBTI assessment you will have a 4 letter type profile that can then guide the way you effectively communicate and interact with everyone around you.

Very important to highlight that even though we can operate using all preferences one preference from each category will come much more easily & naturally, without having to think.

No preference is better or worse than another preference, it is just different. We need & celebrate difference in our teams.

If we were all the same it would be very dull.

When our mothers told us to treat others as we like to be treated, this didn't quite factor in 'difference' because the way I like to be treated will not be identical to everyone else around me.

MBTI Preference Scales

Extraversion Or Introversion - this is about your preference for communication

Sensing Or iNtuition - this is about your preference for information

Thinking Or Feeling - this is about how you make decisions

Judging Or Perceiving - this is about how you prefer to organize yourself

This is an incredibly abbreviated summary for the purposes of this article.

There are 16 MBTI Type Indicators or profiles using the E or I; S or N; T or F; J or P scales.

Most typical dentist profile is ISTJ

Outline of this preference is:

As a dentist you are serious, quiet, earn success by concentration and thoroughness. Practical, orderly, matter-of-fact, logical, realistic, and dependable.See to it that everything is well organised.Take responsibility.Make up your own minds as to what should be accomplished and work toward it steadily, regardless of protests or distractions.

Most typical dental team member profile is ESFP

Outline of this preference is:

Outgoing, accepting, friendly, enjoy everything and make things more fun for others by their enjoyment. Like action and making things happen. Know what’s going on and join in eagerly. Find remembering facts easier than mastering theories. Are best in situations that need sound common sense and practical ability with people.

Second most typical dental team member profile is: ENFJ

Outline of this preference is:

Responsive and responsible. Feel real concern for what others think or want, and try to handle things with due regard for the other’s feelings. Can present a proposal or lead a group discussion with ease and tact. Sociable, popular, sympathetic. Responsive to praise and criticism. Like to facilitate others and enable people to achieve their potential.

So what does all this mean for your communication with your team?

Bottom line is that there are some similarities in the typical dentist profile and a team member profile but also some very key differences that if you are fully aware of and plan for every time you communicate will make the world of difference to how you are received and how your staff will respond to you.

Key priorities in your communication approach:

- You as the dentist are generally not naturally good communicators which means that you are not always able to respond immediately to your team. This results in frustration because then you are perceived as ignoring requests

Action - tell your team members that it would be very helpful for them to write down their questions, issues, concerns and then agree on a time frame to get back to them

- The greatest challenge for you as the dentist is that your team members are generally much more sensitive than you are and need information communicated in a 'soft' caring manner. This relates to the Thinking and Feeling scale and in my experience causes the greatest levels of conflict within a team.

Action - the language you use is critical. Rather than the direct, blunt language that you prefer you need to use words such as 'how do you feel about that'; 'how will this impact on you'. You must clearly state that you are interested in their feelings. I know this is more time consuming but if you seek team harmony it is a must do strategy.


I could 'go on' and 'on' about preferred language, tone, choice of words, body language all day but you need the key facts right now.

So here they are:

- plan exactly what you are going to say to any team member or the team as a group

- think about the words that you will use to clearly demonstrate you care about their feelings

- face your team members with open body language. Eyes looking at them; no crossed arms or legs, no half turning away.

- be calm and modulated in your tone; don't raise your voice, get anxious or upset with any response, stay in control as the leader of your team

- ask open questions - start a sentence with how, what, why, when or where and encourage feedback

My best advice is if you want your team to continue working with you once this COVID19 crisis is over don't just focus on yourself, take the time to calmly communicate clearly and honestly with your team. You will need them to want to return when your practice is open again.

I hope that this is helpful.

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