The Science of Persuasion: The Key Essence of Communication - Part 2The Science of Persuasion: The Key Essence of Communication - Part 2

“If you just communicate, you can get by, but if you can communicate skilfully, you can work miracles.”


The Science of Persuasion: The Key Essence of Communication - Part 2

by Dr Bala Saravanan 

May 01, 2019

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“If you just communicate, you can get by, but if you can communicate skilfully, you can work miracles.” – Jim Rohn

What does dentistry have to do with persuasion? What does business in dentistry have to do with persuasion?

Remember guys, we are in sales. We are selling our services every day and the end goal of all consultation is that patients agree to necessary treatment. How the message is passed to the patient is not only essential for the success of our practices but also to the care of our patients' health.  

In this article, I would humbly like to share certain aspects of the science of persuasion that I use on a daily basis. All credit to these skills of must go to Dr. Robert Cialdini (Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University) also known as “godfather of influence” for his renowned book - Influence: Science & Practice and Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, that has sold over 3 million copies, a New York Times Bestseller and has been published in 30 languages. 

“Real persuasion comes from putting more of you into everything you say. Words have an effect. Words loaded with emotion have a powerful effect”- Jim Rohn   

Researchers have been studying the “factors that Influence us to say yes to the request of others” for over 60 years and there is no doubt that there is a science to how we are persuaded. When making a decision, we usually think that we consider all available information and options to guide our thinking, but in actual fact the reality is different. With information constantly overloading our lives, there are actually shortcuts or rules of thumb that we follow, which guide our decision making and influence us to say “yes”. 

I will be sharing three of these in this article and the remaining three in the Part 3 of this series. Understanding these rules of thumb and employing them in an ethical manner can significantly increase effective communication with our patients and encourage ideal dental care. 

1. Reciprocity

People are obliged to give back to others the form of behaviour, gift or services they have received first).

An example would be, if someone invited you to their birthday party, you are obliged to invite them to a future party you are hosting. If you owe your colleague a favour, you’re obliged to return the favour. In a social context it’s very simply said - people are more likely to say “Yes” to those that they owe.

How do we use the concept of reciprocity in the dental context?

Imagine a fearful child walks into your practice with his concerned parents for a removal of mobile deciduous tooth hanging by a thread (we have all seen it, one of those that barely needs a tuck to fall out). The child is anxious, the parents are worried. You implement all the principles mentioned in Part 1 of this series of articles and get both child and parents comfortable, laughing and being a friend. The child is enjoying the dental chair and you apply your topical and painlessly remove the deciduous tooth in a matter of seconds. Both the parents and child are impressed and you have already created the “wow dentist factor”. As the parents step out to your front counter with their wallets open, expecting a huge bill for your great skills, your receptionist checks and says "here is a new tooth brush for our brave little hero and there will be no charges for today".

Not only have you created a "wow dentist" moment by taking the time to get to know the parents and child and look after their concerns, but you have truly differentiated yourself by offering them a free appointment for what took no longer than 5 minutes of your time. 70% of the time, I am sure that the child’s parents, uncles, aunties & grandparents and every friend with a wiggly tooth will be faithful new patients.

How much did this complimentary appointment cost you? A few dollars on the topical and a few calories on smiling.  Throw that towards your marketing budget as I guarantee you a return on investment ten times over.

The secret of using this strategy is to be the first to give and ensure what you give is personalized and unexpected.

2. Authority

People follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts.

Research has shown that a Physiotherapist would be more likely to successfully have their patients comply with their exercise regimen if they have their certificates on display on the wall of their consultation room. Equally people are more likely to give change for a parking meter to a complete stranger, if that stranger wears a uniform rather than civilian clothes.

What the science is telling us, is that it is important for your patients to understand your knowledge and further education and expertise. The key is to do this honestly without being boastful and self absorbed. 

Training your reception staff to understand your skills and reassure patients of your knowledge can be a great way of comforting anxious clients. When those comments are then followed up by a flawless appointment and pleasant dental experience your patients will do the boasting for you to all their family and friends.

Before we proceed it is important to understand that in order to maintain the respect and loyalty of your patient base, that you truthfully utilise this concept and be the expert that you want to be seen to be. Claiming to be something you are not will have detrimental effects.  

3. Consistency

People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done.

Consistency is activated by asking for small initial commitments. A study used in Dr Cialdini's book that can be directly related to our industry is that of reducing missed appointments. By asking patients to write down their next appointment themselves on appointment cards, a reduction of 18% missed appointments was achieved. 

In the days of smart phones, the concept of writing down an appointment might seem archaic but using phrases such as "we will see you for your next appointment at the time that you have jotted down" creates a personal responsibility and cements the humans desire to be consistent, effectively reducing the need for persuasion as they will they have marked down their own appointment and have taken responsibility for keeping that time. 

I will cover three more parts in regards to “science of persuasion” in Part 3 of this series. Allow me to further share with you these concepts that I genuinely believe have had a positive influence on my practise.  

This article was originally published by Dr Bala Saravanan and reproduced with permission.

The contents of this article and the opinions shared are that of the Author and not Nexlec.

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