Dr Mark Hassed

Here's the third in the check list series on communication. Make sure to follow the entire series.

3. Listen without judgement

People come into dental offices and say the oddest things many of them not quite logical.

“I want to get all my teeth pulled out.”
“Can I just get a tooth screwed back in?”
“Root fillings never work.”

Because we are the expert the temptation is to immediately try to put the person right. We tend to respond with “Not really…” and then deliver a lecture.

All that does is make the person defensive. It makes them justify and hold on to their position more tightly.

A much better way is to listen without judgement. Give the person some space and let them get their views out in the open without any pressure from you.

If you do that you often find the person will be much more prepared to change their view point.

It's almost the reverse of what you would think. Judging and trying to change people solidifies them in their position yet listening without any judgement frees people up to change.

Please let me tell you a little story about listening without judgement.

Recently I was consulting with a lady about a lower molar that had broken 3 times before. She said: “I just want the cheapest thing you can do.”

The temptation was to lecture her about how that was a waste of time and wouldn't work etc. etc.

Instead I just listened and gave her some space. A couple of minutes later when I told her about a crown and the cost she immediately agreed. That would not have happened if I had “judged” her earlier comment.

Try listening without judgement. It has real power.

[The next item in the series will appear on 29 May.]

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