Here's the first in the check list series on communication. Make sure to follow the entire series.
1. If you must speak, ask questions
There are a couple of facets to this. Firstly it carries the implication that sometimes you don't need to speak at all.
In the dental office we have the enormous benefit of being able to stage our environment. We can have supportive staff around us, a modern well designed office and we can personally be neat and well dressed. All the elements of establishing trust with patients are present.
Sometimes opening our mouths can be a bad thing. The patient has a positive view of us or they wouldn't be there. Attempting to impress them with how much we know and how good we are can create problems where none need to exist.
It's much nicer to come in, greet the patient in a warm, relaxed fashion with a smile and good eye contact and open with “What can I do for you today?”
Then just follow on from there asking questions and actively listening.
Resist any urge to explain to them about the wonders of modern dentistry, or how a root filling is done. Just listen and follow and be amazed at how the patients open up.