Dr Mark HassedIt's Monday morning 10.00am. A patient comes in sipping on a bottle of water and says: “This tooth hurts when I have a hot drink and gets better when I have a cold drink.”

It's obvious to any dentist that the patient has an abscess. We can proceed in one of two ways:

  1. Immediately tell the patient: “You have an abscess.”
  2. Stay humble: “Hmm. That's interesting. So every time you have a coffee it sends you through the roof?”

Option 1 diminishes trust — it tells the patient that you jump to conclusions and don't take time to listen.

Option 2 enhances trust — especially when followed up with more questions and a thorough examination prior to announcing the diagnosis.

Sometimes you need to slow down to increase your efficiency. By choosing option 2, the “slower” option, subsequent patient interactions will be much more efficient because they are based on trust and respect.

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