A Change in Behavior Begins with a Change in Belief

July 26, 2019 Paul Henny DDS

Three-quarters of human brain growth takes place in the first three years of life.

And that represents almost everything except the prefrontal cortex, which does not fully mature until around the age of twenty-five. This means that our ability to cognitively process…our ability to understand and respond appropriately to lower brain functioning, and particularly our emotional system, is quite limited early-on. Yet that is exactly when most of our beliefs about the world and how it works are formed and rarely challenged. So, when a person comes into the office claiming that “When I was a kid, the dentist put both feet on my chest to extract the tooth. It was horrible. I hate going to the dentist,” we are actually dealing with a belief and not a fact.

Responding to “When I was a kid…”

It is counterproductive to begin a new relationship with a person by telling them that they are wrong and don’t know what they are talking about. So, we have to begin someplace else, with the goal of facilitating a change in belief over time, and not with a goal of convincing others how much we know and that they should surrender to our intellectual prowess. Start with the understanding that we humans don’t like to be challenged as wrong. Also understand that we’d often rather be wrong than right, simply because it feels better to our ego.

It turns out that the only way beliefs change is through an inside-out process of self-reflection, re-assessment, new realizations, and new assumptions repeatedly confirmed by new experience. Before there is a commitment to action, your patient with negative beliefs about dentistry must go through this. And, I’ll bet you weren’t thinking all of that was going on in your patients’ brains, but it is…every single day. That is why relationship-based dentistry holds so much power and potential.

Truly helping relationships are the only vehicle through which significant personal change occurs in dentistry. L.D. Pankey said, “Know your patient,” not because you can use the knowledge strategically to defeat them on an intellectual level, but rather to help pave the way toward significant change and therefore better decision-making.

We can’t manipulate our patients toward becoming healthier.

In fact, the more we try to manipulate people, the more their lower brain recognizes something is wrong. It doesn’t know what, but at least it’s smart enough to stop listening, and focus on self-preservation—like staying away from people who will likely put “both feet on their chest.”

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About Author

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Back on Track with “The Three Vs”

June 20, 2019 Robert Maguire, DDS, MASCL

Dentists in private practice face a myriad of uncomfortable problems that force us to find solutions or… S L O W L Y burn out. Do any of these resonate with you?

  • Ineffective marketing for attracting the type of new patients you need and want
  • Interpersonal problems among some team members
  • Difficulty budgeting for and incorporating new technology you want to embrace
  • Lack of energy to monitor your practice systems and staff
  • Insufficient time for yourself and your family
  • Overall fatigue

Hark, the Mind!

Often times, the problems we face in our practices are the result of our own “stinking thinking.”

I recently retired at age 60 after practicing for 28 years as a solo practitioner in Wolfeboro, NH. Over the years, I went through my fair share of issues but found a way to thrive with the influence of programs like The Pankey Institute and Dawson Academy. I focused on developing deep relationships with my patients and team. So, when I say your life and your practice will be more productive and fun when you live your life in alignment with your Values, your Vision, and your Voice, I speak from experience.

To makeover your “thinking,” you’ll need to engage you mind and consider these three Vs.

Values – Exercises 1-3

Values are the non-negotiables in our lives. These are the things that are most meaningful to us, things we would “go to the mat for.” They are personal and unique for each of us, for example, honesty, integrity, transparency, spending time with family, etc. Some practice values might include technical excellence, timeliness, cleanliness, appreciation, efficiency, scheduling sufficient time for conversations with patients, and fiscal responsibility.

So why are values so important? When violated, our personal and practice lives will be “out of whack.” Frustration, anger, helplessness, and despair are some emotions we might feel. So, start with Exercise 1.

  • Exercise 1. Take an inventory of your values. Make a list of what’s most important to you, as many as come to mind. Then choose your top ten and prioritize them. Once you know what’s most important to you, figure out the steps you need to take to make them a reality.
  • Exercise 2. Do Exercise 1 with your team. Have them each identify and prioritize their own personal values.
  • Exercise 3. Combine your findings and do the same exercise with your team to identify your shared practice values. This exercise alone will propel you and your team forward towards a more fun and productive workplace.

Vision – Exercise 4

Once you and your team know what you value the most, write out the vision for your dental practice. As you write out your practice vision statement, think about how you want to practice and what the ideal team member looks like. Think about your practice setting and how you want to relate to your patients. Get a clear picture in your mind, write it down, and then communicate it. You should be able to articulate it clearly and succinctly if someone asks you, “What is the vision for your practice?” Stating your practice vision should be as automatic as breathing.

Voice – Exercise 5

When you know who you are (your values) and how you want to live (your vision), your thinking changes­­–and with it your voice. Your words and actions will become authentic, intentional, and magnetic. Patients will be attracted to you and your staff because you are “the real deal.”

A “Magic” Process

The five steps to establishing your three Vs compose a highly effective process that bonds team members and clarifies a common direction for your team, as well as your office systems. Many times, we are tempted to evaluate and make changes in office systems when we are faced with problems. What I learned is that, as you strive for more happiness, more joy, and more financial success, looking at “The Three Vs” first, before looking at the office systems, is optimal. In my practice life, we took a fresh look at our three Vs frequently.

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About Author

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Robert Maguire, DDS, MASCL

Dr. Maguire is a Navy Veteran who got his D.D.S. degree from Georgetown University School of Dentistry in 1984. He completed Bachelor of Arts at the University of New Hampshire in 1980 and Master of Arts Degree in Strategic Communication and Leadership at Seton Hall University in 2009. He was a former president of the New Hampshire Dental Society from 2014 to 2015. Dr. Maguire is a fellow in the International College of Dentists and the American College of Dentists. He is also a member of the American Dental Association and the New Hampshire Dental Society. Early in his career, Dr. Maguire became an avid student of both the Dawson Center and the Pankey Institute, completing all of their week-long continuums. It was the "Pankey Philosophy" that inspired him to continually develop his technical and communication skills. In addition to these credentials, he is also a certified trainer for the DISC Personality Assessment Tool. Dr. Maguire specializes in teaching others to be effective communicators (www.dynamicdentalcomm.com). Dr. Maguire recently retired at age 60 after practicing for 28 years as a solo practitioner in Wolfeboro, NH. He attributes his success to the deep relationships he made with his patients and team. His practice thrived without the influence of PPOs or Premiere programs with set fees.

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