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The Art of Listening

By: scallison on July 10th, 2017

One of the most frustrating experiences a person can have when visiting a dental practice is to leave feeling that their thoughts or concerns were not actually heard. If a dental professional appears to be listening but their minds are actually racing on to other topics or are busy formulating a response then they will likely miss important information and be unable to respond appropriately to what you are actually saying. That’s why it is so important to find a dental professional who practices the art of active listening.

Active listening is the practice of making a conscience effort to hear and understand people in order to get the complete message. It’s not just hearing the words being spoken, but understanding the message being sent. This helps to build relationships, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts and improve accuracy.

Here are a few indicators to help you determine whether your dental professional is practicing active listening:

1. Are they paying attention?

Active listeners must make a conscious effort to keep their focus centered on the person who is speaking. Are they making eye contact and ignoring outside distractions? A true active listener will put their own thoughts on hold and resist the urge to start planning their response. Instead they will focus only on you and the words you are speaking.

2. Are they showing that they are listening?

When you are discussing things with your dental professional, do you feel like they are paying attention to you? Are you receiving simple cues like nodding their head or smiling to help you feel like they are engaged in what you are saying? Do they provide verbal feedback that indicates that they understand where you are coming from?

3. Do they interrupt you?

A person cannot be an active listener if they are the one talking. Nothing can be more frustrating than being cut off mid-sentence. Is your dental professional being respectful when you are speaking and waiting for a break or pause in conversation before speaking?

4. Are they demonstrating understanding?

Does your dental professional ask clarifying questions and demonstrate understanding? Do they paraphrase or repeat back what you have said to help demonstrate that they are not just listening but truly understanding your thoughts and concerns?

5. Are the responses appropriate?

When responding to what you are saying does your dental professional stay on topic and respond appropriately? Do the solutions offered seem to meet your needs and address any concerns you are expressing? Do you leave feeling like you have truly been heard and understood?

If your dental professional qualifies as an active listener then you’ve hit the jackpot. If not, it might be time to start looking for someone who can better meet your needs. You dental health is the number one priority and the first step on the path to health and healing is finding a dental professional who listens and truly understands you.

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