In my last blog, I discussed a strategy developed by Tony Robbins on how to stop the gossip and bad behavior between team members with a simple tool I called employee agreements. Once we had the agreements in place, the business coach I was working with at that time moved us to the next level of communication. With that training came a wonderful new way to understand and relate each other and to our patients. The process involved understanding our personalities better.
Using a system developed by Brian Tracy, we learned about our personalities using insights into communication. The test contained 40 questions with four completely different words; we had to answer which we were most like and which we were least like. This assigned each of us a color for our personalities, and gave us great insight as to what kind of personality we had, our strengths, our weaknesses, our motivations and more. The results appeared on a graph like the one below.
The reds are extroverts but are task-oriented. They are the leaders, the drivers, the motivators, but they are not patient.
The yellows are the socializers. For these people, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping!
The greens are the health care providers. A bit shy, they are focused on caring and are disproportionately found in the health care professions.
The blues are the computer programmers, the engineers, the people who are happy being at a desk, in front of a computer, and not interacting with a lot of people very often.
Another way of demonstrating these personality types is to imagine you are on an elevator with some other people. The door opens and a person enters. The red person would hit the button of the floor they want to go to, and then hit the button two or three more times to be sure they are going where they want to go. The yellow would get on and start talking to everyone and forget to hit the button of the floor they want to go to. The green would get on, hit the button to their floor and ensure everyone else is going where they need to go as well. And the blue would get on, count the number of people, look at the safety plaque and ensure they it is safe to get on the elevator.
I had everyone on my team, myself included, take this personality test. When we got the results, if we felt it was not accurate for ourselves, we were asked to show it to a family or friend. They always agreed that it was was. I have found this to be amazingly accurate.
During a team meeting, we put a large color wheel on a board. Each person got up and put a star where their personality landed on the wheel. Those closer to the middle were more able to switch between personality types (more chameleon-like), and those further toward the periphery were more “pure” in their behavior.
Once we understood other personalities better, we were better able to understand why someone behaved a certain way in a certain situation. Our agreements did not even need to come into play. It has become a powerful tool in how we work together as a team.
And once we were familiar with the system, we could apply it in a rudimentary way to our patients. When someone walks in to the office and asks how long they will be there before even saying hello, our staff knows this person is a red and lets us know. We ensure we get them in and get the dentistry done. If treatment is recommended, we tell them what we recommend and how much time we will need, and let them go (and the paperwork is ready for them before they reach the front desk).
Red personalities want to know how long the dentistry will take, how much it will cost, how soon can they get it done, etc. If the patient is a yellow personality, they want to know how the dentistry is going to make them feel or look. The blue personalities want to know what material the dentistry is made out of, how long it will last, the benefits, etc. The green personality will want to know how it will affect their health, and if there is a charitable donation associated with the procedure (like that associated with some teeth whitening campaigns). These patients are quicker to accept and proceed.
Knowledge of personality types, at a basic level like this, has helped enhance our relationships with each other and with our patients and has lead to better patient care. It’s been an amazing journey on our daily grind.