“So, tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
I wanna really, really, really wanna zig-a-zig-ah”
Spice Girls - Wannabe, July 8, 1996
When people know, like, and trust you, sales are the natural result, which is why relationship-based selling works. But in order to present care that patients will accept, you have to first find out what they really, really want. Even when what they want isn’t what you want. Even when what they really, really want is a zig-a-zig-ah.
I keep the lyrics to the Spice Girls “Wannabe” posted on my wall, not because they were the best girl band everrrr 😉 but because they hold the secret to honest, high-integrity, value-based selling. Once you crack the relationship-based selling code, you’ll possess an essential skill for creating a profitable practice in any economy through successful case presentation and practically automatic care acceptance.
Setting your wants and needs aside to discover what your patients really, really want is easier said than done. Why? Self-interest is a powerful survival mechanism deeply rooted in our DNA, our habits, and our daily lives.
Lucky for us, neurobiology research proves that our genetically-driven habits do not have to become our reality. Using the brain’s inherent neuroplasticity, we can train our conscious mind to override outdated programming and create new neural pathways, new habits, and new behaviors.
With practice, you can learn to temporarily suspend self-interest long enough to discover what your patients really, really want.
The effort will be richly rewarded and can provide massive benefits for you, your patients, and your practice, because once you have the ability to discover what your patients really, really want, and find a way to offer that to them:
No more pressure, resistance or rejection.
No more scripts, tricks or manipulation.
No more lousy reviews on Google and Facebook about how you’re a money-grubbing scumbag who is only looking out for themselves.
You now know why you should work to discover what your patients really, really want . . . but what about the how?
The keystone habit that will make the biggest difference in your practice is the habit of presence.
Cultivating presence will not only transform your case presentation and care acceptance, but it also has the potential to transform everything that truly matters. Presence is the key to connection. Connection is the key to good relationships. And good relationships are the key to everything you want from life. Dr. Bob Barkley, relationship-based dentistry pioneer, said it best:
“Build your relationships first—then build your dentistry."
Presence is the experience of being consciously aware of reality and truth in the present moment. Most of the time, we’re not present, but instead, we’re lost in a trance of thought. When we think we’re seeing the truth, we’re actually seeing our truth—the truth we want or hope is real based upon the stories we create about our experience.
The real truth is simply what’s actually happening—unbiased by our thoughts, beliefs, judgements, desires, or assumptions. The truth has nothing to do with our story. It has nothing to do with what we want it to be or think it should be. The truth just is. (Profound, isn’t it? 😊)
Genuine human interactions that allow the truth to surface requires presence and connection. Presence is more than just establishing rapport, active listening, or having empathy. It occurs when you’re able to connect with the three elements of presence: you, them, and we.
Before you can be present with another person, you must first be present with yourself. Are you tuned into what’s going on in your body and your mind; or are you lost in the trance of your thoughts? Right now, in this moment, are you aware of the sensations in your body? Do you notice that you’re breathing? Do you realize that your mind is racing with regrets from the past or worries about the future?
If you notice that you’re not present, take a moment to drop in: pause and become aware of your body, your breath, and your thoughts.
Being present with another is the conscious appreciation that you’re interacting with another human being with hopes, dreams, fears and insecurities . . . just like you. It also implies allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable enough that you allow their humanity to have an impact on you.
Are you genuinely curious about them and their life; or are you just putting on a show and faking interest to get what you want? Can you imagine what it might be like to be in your patient’s shoes right now, in this moment? Are you listening to what they are saying with their words and body language? Are you genuinely concerned about their needs? This is what it means to be present with another.
Transformational alchemy occurs when you’re present within yourself and with another person. This is the point when eyes light up—when both you and your patient realize that “we’re in this together.” The interaction is no longer just about you or them. It becomes a dance of co-discovery for mutual benefit.
If you’ve ever been accused of being a money-grubbing scumbag who is only looking out for themselves, it’s likely that you haven’t cultivated the Presence of We.
Presence helps neutralize the stress, pressure, and doubt that doctors, teams, and patients so often feel during the case presentation process.
Despite your acting skills, patients notice the difference between a doctor who is a little checked out and one who is laser focused. Hands down, the best way to present a treatment plan that’s based in mutual respect and trust, is to be connected with the three elements of presence during the entire process.
In other words, be present when you present.
How do you remember to be present when in the trenches of daily practice? A simple solution is found in the power of the pause. To establish and maintain presence during examination and case presentation, use this simple three-step formula:
This will help both you and your patients relax into the truth of what’s happening in the moment, which they need as much as you. As it happens, doctors are so comfortable in the healthcare environment that we don’t realize how vulnerable patients feel in our domain—physically, emotionally, and financially. Being present allows them to feel safe, let go, and trust that you’re the real deal; that you have things under control. Care acceptance at that point becomes a natural result of your authenticity, genuine concern, and honesty.
If you lack presence when you present, patients will often feel that you have an underlying agenda to get something from them. They’ll close down. They’ll subconsciously look for an escape route and find a way to say “no” to what you’re offering, often to their own detriment. The only real solution is presenting with presence, but it takes practice.
Fully cultivating the habit of presence won’t happen overnight. But with the right tools and a bit of practice, you can and will see immediate, transformational change in the interactions you have with patients. Your patients will become more relaxed, trusting, and open to what you have to say because they correctly sense that “we’re in this together."
When patients trust that you don’t have a hidden agenda, everyone wins. Patients get what they really, really want and you begin to build a brand that can thrive in any economy.
To speed up the process, I’ve developed a one-page cheat sheet and a few exercises to help you and your team cultivate the habit of presence and master the art of relationship-based selling.
Get your hands on my quick start guide by clicking here.
The habit of presence will not only transform relationships between you and your patients, but presence has the potential to transform all your relationships—personal, professional and casual. So whether you’re looking to master the close or build stronger relationships, practicing the habit of presence is your clear route to success!
Dr. Curt Eastin practiced dentistry for nearly 30 years and has been a student of the mind for nearly as long. He helps professionals integrate mindfulness and the evolving knowledge in neuroscience into their personal and professional lives. You can get an instant download of his Quick Start Guide to Cultivating Presence with Your Patients.
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