No doubt confidence breeds trust. Those who are confident usually go further in life. Things go their way. They make things happen.
Dentists, as a group, seem to lack confidence. It’s not true of every dentist, of course. However, it’s hard to argue against the stereotyping of dentists as meek wannabe doctors who go through each day hoping not to hear the dreaded, “I hate dentists.” We’re reportedly so ashamed of our own work and profession, that having the highest suicide rate persists as urban legend.
Watch it get worse?
I’ve not heard a physician ever say, “Let’s put a watch on that,” when referring to any diagnosis including, hypertension, glaucoma, high cholesterol, diabetes, a tumor, etc.
Dentists actually feel guilty when informing patients of their diagnosis. We feel BADLY when we find a problem. We’ll even try to soften the blow by saying things like “It’s a little cavity. We’ll watch it.” We stammer and stutter. We avoid eye contact. We sympathize AND empathize. We’ll even reduce our fees to assuage our guilt.
Now, I’m not preaching from a pedestal. I’m just as guilty of doing this as any other dentist. While I’ve overcome this tendency, I occasionally fall off the confidence wagon.
I gotta be me.
A new ad for Southern Comfort liquor inspired this blog article. The main character in the ad oozes confidence (not to mention just plain oozes through ad). He is the antithesis of the images we see in most ads. Most ads feature people who are quintessential physical perfection. The idea is that consumers will buy products used by people they WISH they LOOKED like.
This ad is quite different. This guy is certainly physically more representative of the typical middle-aged American man. But, his swagger and utter disregard for what others may think belie his appearance. This dude is THE MAN, and he KNOWS it. Even the dog knows it. HE is the “most interesting man in the world.”
Confidence is magnetic.
The reality is that people find confidence ATTRACTIVE. Confidence trumps physical beauty almost every time. Danny DeVito is one of my favorite actors. Besides being a great actor, his appearance flies in the face of traditional Hollywood standards. He’s short (really short). He’s fat. He’s bald. He’s simply not a classically attractive man. But, he’s got attributes that eclipse his looks: skills and confidence. Accordingly, he’s very successful.
Most dentists are quite skilled. Yes, some are more skilled than others. I’ll argue, at the very least, that most of us have great potential. I submit there are a great many dentists who are supremely talented with clinical skills, but they still lack confidence. As, a result, many of their patients don’t get to benefit from those talents.
I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t offer any pat answers for those with a confidence deficit. I know my own development as a dentist has included some self-analysis leading to my own evolution of confidence. I almost didn’t graduate from dental school on time. I wasn’t at the top of my class. I gladly left the life-sucking hell-hole that was dental school. My time in the Navy helped lift me back up with some excellent learning experiences in a surprisingly positive environment.
One secret: C.E. (lots of it)
In the civilian world, I pursued continuing education with a bit of a vengeance. If I was going to be a dentist, I was going to be a good one… nay… a great one. I would defy my dental school reputation. And, so I have. And, so can you. Hands-on clinical C.E. is a huge confidence-booster. And, that helps translate to an R.O.I.
Strut it! Own it!
Get comfortable in your skin. Don’t apologize (in words or body language) for your diagnoses and treatment recommendations. Look patients in the eye. It’s not your teeth with the problem. You’re just there to help them the best way you know how. Tell them what’s going on, and how you can help. Then SHUT UP (and listen). You gotta be you… like the guy in the Southern Comfort ad or like “George Jefferson!”
What do you think? Did I strike a nerve? Hit the nail on the head? Comment below!