I was lucky to work with a colleague whom I called the “patient whisperer.” He always seemed to know the right thing to say. When patients would ask if we could put them to sleep, which we didn’t offer at our office, he would say, “We have a sledgehammer in the back. Otherwise you would need to go somewhere else for that.” He also had a very contagious laugh that got him out of trouble if he ever said anything that could be taken the wrong way.
I am a people person, but knowing what to say doesn’t always come so easily to me. After thinking about it, and a few trials and errors, here are a few icebreakers that I think anyone can implement to make their days a little less monotonous.
1. This first list is to be used with new patients only. Once you have a bit of a relationship with someone, it’s usually much easier to jump into things. Also, I do not recommend extending small talk if someone is in obvious pain. In these cases, the patient wants to get to the treatment just as much as you do. But for the nonemergency new patient, here are a few questions to break the ice:
- What kind of work do you do?
- What do you do for fun?
- How long have you been retired?
- Do you live near here?
- What’s your favorite subject in school?
- Do you play any sports?
- How was your trip?
- What are your kids doing this summer?
- How was your golf game last week?
- Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like to discuss?
- Have I answered all of your questions today?
When in doubt, I try to emulate my friend, and smile and laugh as much as possible.
Sarah Meyer, DDS