In the dental industry, we pride ourselves on communicating the importance of a beautiful and healthy smile, along with the resulting positive self-esteem benefits and the confidence that comes with it. A smile that is not limited to just the teeth and lips, but an engaging smile that lights up the entire face and eyes.

You and your team need to be the walking, talking, visual ambassadors of that. It’s a role, a responsibility, some might say an obligation, within our industry. And, you can’t afford to have team members who do not exhibit or embody that kind of smile–a smile that is a result of a great attitude, good energy and positive “vibe”.

It’s vital to “see” the person behind the mask when interviewing candidates for your dental practice. Spend time with your team exploring ways to become better visual ambassadors for the products and services you provide, and teaching them how to overcome the loss of connection and communication when wearing masks, particularly when delivering quality treatment.

Whether from not being able to “see” patients as they wear their masks, or as a result of all team members being masked all of the time, communication and understanding have suffered.

Why communication and understanding have suffered with a loss of connection

You’ve heard the old adage: “Seeing is believing”. How about: “A picture is worth a thousand words?” We all know, intuitively, there is validity and truth in these statements.

Through “seeing” we confirm our thinking and/or beliefs. Reading facial expressions and all forms of mannerisms allows us to reach conclusions about the meaning of communication. It is often how we gauge truthfulness and sincerity. As an example, you ask someone: “How are you doing?” And the person says: “Fine”. Yet, their eyes, skin tone, clenched jaw and compressed lips, tell a very different story.

What do you believe? Invariably, it is what you are seeing–the visual, not the words. The impact of this concept has been very apparent through the COVID pandemic and the universal wearing of masks. Whether from not being able to “see” patients as they wear their masks, or as a result of all team members being masked all of the time, communication and understanding have suffered.

Pain point: Interviewing candidates for the dental team without the opportunity to ‘see’ them first.

One client, a dental practice owner, recently expressed frustration about this exact topic. The doctor had hired someone during the height of the pandemic, when all communication and interviewing was done with masks on. Over the ensuing months, the doctor has had the opportunity to “see” this new employee, and has come to learn that the words from the interviews don’t line up with what the visual is saying and what is being experienced firsthand with the employee. Ouch!

The science has shown that the meaning of communication is comprised of “visual”, “tone” and “words”. Further, that “visual” accounts for 55 percent of the meaning of communication, “tone” accounts for 38 percent and “words”, a lowly 7 percent. Confirming that: No. 1-seeing is believing (visual), No. 2-it is not what you say but how you say it (tone), and a distant No. 3 -the actual verbiage we use (words).

Tips on how to see the person behind the mask in a job interview. Tim Twigg offers guidance for dental practice owners.

Tips on how to ‘see’ the person behind the mask during a job interview at your dental practice.

  1. Pay more attention to visual cues and the information they provide.
  2. When hiring create opportunities to “unmask” candidates, incorporate an interview that is on Zoom, without masks, where you can see and experience the candidate.
  3. Take the candidate to lunch, where the mask is off while eating, which affords an opportunity to “see” and experience this person visually and how they interact (respectfully or not) with servers and other people encountered. This might prove to be the best $25 you’ll ever spend!
  4. Focus on attitude and fit.

Remember: ‘Hire first for the things you cannot teach or train’

Human Resource experts around the world teach this mantra. What falls into this category? Attitude, fit or good “vibe”. You, your patients and all of us experience these visually and viscerally when we interact with others. They are huge contributors to building trust in any relationship. You can’t teach attitude. You can’t train a good “vibe”. So, hire for these aspects first and foremost. Experience and skills are second, they can be taught and/or trained.

Hopefully, this information and these suggestions will lead to greater success moving forward as we put COVID in the rearview mirror. Need more guidance on Human Resource topics at your dental practice? Connect with our expert team at Bent Ericksen & Associates by reaching out to your Friendly Benco Rep or calling 1.800.GOBENCO