By Karen Cortell Reisman
When I spoke recently at the Yankee Dental Meeting in Boston, Dr. Lyman introduced me to her many colleagues at one of the receptions. I was impressed with her vitality, social savvy, leadership, and communication skills.
It's hard to keep up with Dr. Lyman! Yet, in between her busy dental practice, organized dentistry commitments, travel and exercise, she found time to share her wisdom with me. Her ideas apply to all of us.
1. What's the most important lesson you've learned?
Never judge a book by its cover. If you judge by what you initially see, you'll be amazed by what you miss.
One time I made a case presentation to a new patient based upon his terrible dentition and sloppy appearance. I recommended a 'patch job'. He asked, 'What would you do if I was your Dad?' Haltingly, I backtracked, 'I'd do several crowns.' He chose the latter and I learned to assume nothing.
I treat patients as if they were members of my family.
2. How do you gain trust with a new patient?
Spend focused time upfront. I try to see the situation from their perspective.
You need to be aware of body language as well as what they say. One first time patient appeared agitated and unfriendly. I sat back and 'read' the patient and realized her reticence was NOT due to money or fear, but lack of time. We figured out how to do everything in one long appointment. I gained her trust by understanding her needs.
I thank my patients for their time, honesty and openness.
3. What communication lessons have you learned from the millions of meetings you have chaired or attended?
Most meetings are a waste of time!
4. How do you run an effective meeting?
Delegate without being afraid to let others handle the situation. Focus on the meeting's purpose. Engage the participants with the process. Prepare in advance. End with an action plan and time line. Talk does not mean action!
5. How can you make a meeting effective when you are NOT the Chairperson?
Ask good questions. Examples: "What's the purpose of the upcoming meeting?" or "What can I do to help?" or "What would you like to accomplish by the time we leave in one hour?"
6. What's the number one skill people should acquire?
To be comfortable in everyday communication. You need to practice speaking even if you don't speak publicly. Get taped. Look at your gestures, eye contact, and voice inflection. It's a learned skill.
Do you take action based upon assumptions? Do you take the other person's perspective into consideration when making decisions? Do you take an active role when participating in a meeting? Have you ever been videotaped?