March 1, 2020
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This past week, a NY PR firm posited that sales of Corona Beer would plummet because their research showed that 38% of Americans would not buy the brand because of the association with the current Corona Virus scare.

You might laugh, giggle or smirk but the same thing most probably happens every day in YOUR dental office.  Your staff and possibly YOU are using words that are triggering unwanted, negative reactions in your patients, that are hurting your image, your treatment acceptance and even your treatment success.

There are words that automatically trigger physiologic responses.  People come into our offices already in a heightened, anxious, sympathetic-up-regulated state.  Their endogenous adrenaline levels might be off the charts as their adrenal glands are pumping overtime.  Some because of the negative experiences they’ve had in dental offices, some because they’re in pain and others because they’re SLEEP DEPRIVED.

So for US, using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones is more important than in most other businesses.

We’ve witnessed people using such negative verbal triggers in every office we spend time in during our 2-day, in-office consultations.  It’s one of the advantages of seeing (and hearing) things in action and it’s one of the things we focus on.

It is also one of the more challenging things to correct.   Our staff and WE have become accustomed to using such terms.  Yet, changing the verbal cues we transmit pays off dividends, BIG TIME.

We all want to give the people that come into our practices the best EXPERIENCE possible.  Triggering negative physiologic responses is just a DOWNER and can actually be a PRACTICE KILLER.

The most common Negative Verbal Trigger we hear is “NO PROBLEM”.  Yes, it is used innocently enough; trying to convey something positive.   Yet, it contains 2 of the most NEGATIVE words in our language.

“NO” is often the first word an infant recognizes.  It’s an admonishment that there is DANGER.  And “PROBLEM” is never a welcomed word, as it too signifies DANGER.

Joining these 2 words is a doubly powerful trigger that will spike an autonomic, sympathetic response in the deepest part of the listeners brain.  

You will NEVER hear this term in places like the Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons or Disney.  There’s a reason these places are known for their hospitality, service and customer experience.  They TRAIN their employees on every aspect of the guest interaction, particularly on the words that are used.

Other examples of negative verbal triggers commonly used in the dental offices are:

Patient: subservient, no control
Treatment:  painful, no control
Fees:  always too high
Costs:  exacting a “pound of flesh”
Contract:  binding, controlling
Operatory: where bad or painful things happen
Staff:  uncaring, remote, automatons.

And the obvious…


The list goes on and on.  

We recommend that, now that this is on your radar, you sit back and closely pay attention to what is being said to (over the phone or written in texts or emails) or in front of your patient (arrrgh).

In the Ritz Carlton, everyone responds to their guests by saying “It’s my PLEASURE”.

Once you realize what is actually being said and the potential, negative consequences it might have, you might consider having a staff meeting to discuss the matter.

Let’s not succumb to the possible fate of CORONA Beer.  None of us can afford a 38% drop in revenue.  Getting people comfortable, lowering their anxiety levels and promoting case acceptance and successful treatment outcomes is hard enough without the subterfuge of negative verbal triggers.

And by the way, the higher your fees, the more important this becomes.  Disney just raised its Park Entry Ticket to $200!  That’s $200 for admission to a place where you wait hours on lines to get access to a 5 minute ride that dumps you into a STORE, where your child or grandchild will urge you to spend ridiculous amounts of money on things that will shortly sit in some closet gathering dust.

And at Disney, all the staff and employees are referred to as CAST MEMBERS and the patrons are GUESTS.

Success and Failure each leaves clues.  Being a student of these can make a big difference.


To everyone’s clarity and excellent success,

Michael, Laurie and the PPS Team


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Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

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