Lessons From 9/11

September 10, 2023
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December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001 are both days of “infamy”. The US was attacked. If, as philosopher George Santayana said, “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, what have we learned?

Note that Santayana used the term “learn from” and not “remember”.  Remembering without learning and without acting on the knowledge gained is futile.  Yet, remembering is what most people will do, especially in regard to 9/11.  Where was I?  Who did I know?  How did it impact me?  Those are the questions that most will ask.  And they are the wrong questions.

Better questions might be;

1. What did we do that might have caused the action?
2. What could we have done to prevent it?
3. Knowing what we now know, what have we learned and how have we changed?

 

Both incidents were partially the result of American hubris.  Not only thinking that we were (and are) invincible, but more importantly, thinking that everyone thinks as we do, everyone has the same values we do, and everyone sees the world as we do.  They do not.  Have we learned those lessons?

There are similar circumstances at play that are relevant to dental practice.  Dentists, dental personnel and the dental industry can also suffer from hubris.

PEOPLE ARE INHERENTLY AFRAID OF WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW.  

Not only has dentistry had bad PR in the media, but everyone seems to use dentistry as a whipping boy. Regardless of the specialty, going into a dental office can result in “White Coat Syndrome”.  Add to that stress the fact that some patients are in pain, and you have the perfect formula for miscommunication.

How does your processes, your team and even your facility cope with this reality and make people more relaxed and facilitate communication?

PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE KNOW, AND DON’T WANT TO.

Dentists often try to impress patients with their knowledge rather than with their empathy.  That’s a mistake.  There’s almost nothing we do that is not scary.  Nearly all the instruments and equipment we use is scary.  But we don’t appreciate what a patient is seeing, sensing, feeling or thinking.

PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE WE USE.

Dentist and dental office personnel often speak Dental rather than English.  Patients have no idea of the name of the teeth, the muscles or even the name of the jaws.  Yet, words such as “bicuspid”, “Masseter”, “Mandible”, “Frenum” are bandied about as if the person on the receiving end went to dental school.  Speaking is plain, understandable language will help facilitate understanding and show that you care about the person listening to you.

Such communication miscues are often found in the copy of emails, letters, ads and websites.  Dental Marketing companies are just as guilty of this sin as practice personnel.

PEOPLE OFTEN DON’T APPRECIATE THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS OF WHAT WE DO.

Patients come to us for a reason.  Often that reason has something to do with some immediate need.  And while it’s easy to attend to that need, we often fail to impress on people the importance of comprehensive and follow-up care.  Such communication is best done after a trust and relationship has been established.  So, presenting such care on a first visit is often counterproductive.  It’s one reason that the national average for case acceptance is only 35%.

How can you more effectively communicate the comprehensive and long-term needs and benefits of what you do?

Communication is the key, in its various forms.  And communication should be frequent and varied, while geared to the conversation already occurring in your patient’s mind.

Writing the copy for such communications is a skill that can be learned.  It starts with the understanding of the 7-Principles of Influence as described by Dr. Robert Cialdini.

That’s why I am so pleased to offer you access to Dr. Cialdini’s Certification courses.  Yes, you and your team can refine your communications by attending to these principles and get better results, particularly with your marketing and case acceptance.

GET THIS VALUABLE RESOURCE NOW.

​Learn from previous mistakes and act accordingly.  That’s the lesson we should all glean from 12-7 and 9-11.

To learning and acting,

Michael

Practice Success Insights

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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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