Are you Flexing Your Type?
Get fiscally fit!
You need strong communication skills to succeed in dentistry. Although this may seem obvious, most of us assume that those with whom we communicate will react the same way – what works for one person will be equally good for another. WRONG!
If you think back to information exchanges you’ve had in the office, you will recognize that there are just some patients (and employees) who are easier for you to communicate with than others. Why is that?
There are numerous factors that influence the way we exchange information with people. One of the most subtle but important aspects is ‘type’. Based on the work of Carl Jung, psychological type is a well-respected way of classifying or categorizing different personality preferences.
Like four suits in a hand of cards, we each have a long suit and a short suit in what interests us and what we do well. The first “type” dimension is concerned with the two different ways people orient themselves to life, either as Extraverts or Introverts. Contrary to what most people may think when they hear the words “Extravert” and “Introvert,” this type dimension is really most concerned about people's energy - where they get it and where they direct it.
When I refer to a type or a preference, I’m not talking about a conscious choice, but rather an inborn tendency. Research suggests that a genetic factor contributes to our socializing preferences. Linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine, it controls excitement levels and is vital for physical activity and motivation. Depending upon how much “buzz” you like in your life may be related to the level of dopamine you need to feel stimulated.
What energizes you the most:
- Interacting with other people?
- Being by myself?
Where do you like to focus your energy:
- In the outer world of people and things?
- In the inner world of ideas and thoughts?
Extraverts are externally oriented. They get energy from and focus their energy toward people and things outside of themselves. Introverts are more inwardly focused and directed. Because Extraverts are energized by being around people, they naturally seek out others more often than Introverts do.
As with all of the type preferences, people with one preference often find it hard to understand and appreciate people of another. Most Extraverts have such a strong need to be around others, they have a hard time believing Introverts really do like spending that much time alone. Conversely, Introverts cannot understand why Extraverts need to use so much ‘air time’.
If you are an introvert, it is likely that you come into the office each morning and head straight to your desk. Perhaps you even close the door. You want the quiet time to get organized and think through the day’s activities. But what message is that behavior communicating to your employees? I’ve heard from dental staff that they feel the doctor doesn’t care about them.
If you’re an extravert, you probably do a lot of talking when you enter the office. Perhaps you describe an interesting movie you saw over the weekend or even an odd experience that happened to you that morning. You may ask your staff lots of questions, eager to engage in conversation. Friendly as those behaviors are, for quiet staff this verbosity can be over stimulating…and annoying.
The same goes for patients. Some need time to think and process the things you say. Others long for you to say more. There is no “right” way. That’s why it benefits you to learn to identify your natural preferences and observe those of others so you will know how to communicate.
The requirements of leadership sometimes pose a bigger challenge for the introvert. The primary shortcomings for shy, reserved people are generally around communication and accessibility. A thoughtful, introspective approach can be mistaken for aloofness and might discourage people from asking questions. That's not trivial; if you can't effectively communicate your mission and objectives, your practice will run adrift. Introverted leaders need to get comfortable talking even if it seems like it’s already been said once.
For extraverted leaders the challenge is to listen more than talk. Learn to ask questions and pause. Extraverts need to get comfortable with silence.
It isn't necessary to undergo a personality transformation to be effective. You do need to find ways to manage your natural style – your ‘type’ - so that it works for you rather than against you. For communication to be successful, the person on the ‘“receiving” side (patient or employee) must understand your message and that is based on their preference.
Give yourself a work-out and flex your type. I promise that it will make you psychologically and fiscally fit!
To learn more about your communication preferences and the impact on your practice, contact Dr. Haller at email@example.com.
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