The Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Communication in Your Office
Even though we are still enduring this pandemic together, some dental offices are beginning to open up and function again. If you are already open or are preparing to open, there are a few things you should know moving forward.
Communication is key when it comes to relationships with patients and staff. Last week, I discussed effective communication in this new world; the next day, I learned that offices were going to start opening up.
At this point, old-school communication will be coming back into play. No more Zoom video chats, no more sending only emails or text messages. What are the DO’S and DON’Ts of communication once you’re in the office? Do you have effective communication with your staff, or do you think things could be improved?
Below are some of what you should and shouldn’t do in order to achieve effective communication in the office:
DO keep everyone on the same page
The most common communication “DON’T” I hear about is communicating with some of your staff but not all. This can become a huge problem, in small offices and big offices. The lack of communication reaching everyone in the office can cause breaks in an otherwise smooth process and can lead to a game of telephone where the information communicated gets skewed more and more as it hops from one person’s ear to the other.
Gossip (which we will talk about later) tends to stem from broken communication chains.
Keep everyone on the same page. To do this and avoid gossip and a possible skewing of the initial message, make sure that the message is communicated to everyone in the office, whether by in-person meetings or by a mass email.
With over 90% of employees saying they value email over any other method, this form of communication is not going anywhere. A mass email will reach everyone in your office with all the information necessary as well as a paper trail to refer back to for verification.
Another form of communication that will reach everyone is the in-person meeting. If you’re like me and prefer receiving important information in an in-person meeting, there is a way to make sure it does not immediately get skewed as soon as the meeting is over: record it. By recording it, you are verifying the information which you can then send to everyone for reference if need be.
Whether by mass email or in-person meetings, it is important that everyone in the office receives the same message and can, therefore, stay on the same page.
DO stay consistent
Having more than one leader in an office can cause some confusion, especially when it comes to communication.
The way to avoid a break in communication from one leader to the other is for those leaders to get together and talk, strategize, figure out a way to collaborate in order to form a message that is consistent.
Unity between leaders is the goal here. A unified front means a unified message to all staff, further solidifying trust and confidence in each of the leaders.
DO practice active listening
If you’ve read my previous blog post regarding communication in the new world, you might have noticed this. Active listening, no matter if you’re working from home or still in your office, is one of the most important aspects of effective communication between you and your staff.
There is a misconception that active listening just means repeating what the person says back to them, but that is not the case and is not helpful. Nobody likes a parrot.
Active listening is listening to what your team member has to say without interrupting, and once you’ve retained the information, paraphrasing what they said so you can confirm that you understand. If you’ve interpreted it correctly, together, you will be able to find a sound solution to the challenge.
We’ve covered just some “DO’s” when it comes to effective communication within the office, but what about what you DON’T do. Here are just some of the DON’T’s you should avoid, whether you’ve already opened your office or are preparing to.
DON’T put up a wall between admin and clinical
This “DON’T” is a common one I’ve heard from many Office Managers. The administration staff and the clinical staff are not two separate entities in the office when it comes to working as a team. So why is there a wall between these two crucial sides?
Keeping information from one side or the other is a huge no-no if you want communication to be smooth and effective in the office. Again, there is a high chance of gossip, a reduction in confidence, and in morale. The staff can’t function at their best if they are missing crucial information, which can then lead to unsatisfied staff and unsatisfied patients.
Basically, DON’T put up a wall between clinical and administrative. It always ends badly. Instead, work as a team and make sure that everyone in the office is fully informed about what’s happening on the clinical as well as the administrative side. These two sides need to be communicating regularly.
Everyone in the office makes up the entire team and the team must be unified in order for an office to run smoothly.
DON’T leave out any information in the message
When communicating an important message to the entire team, don’t leave out information or share that information with only certain people. Just as not keeping everyone in the loop can skew a message, so can not communicating the whole message.
DON’T allow gossip
Gossip might be one of the biggest consequences that comes from ineffective communication. Gossip stems from broken links in the communication chain. It stems from messages that aren’t whole and a team that isn’t unified. Let’s be honest, an office cannot run effectively this way.
If you do keep the entire team on the same page, but you still notice gossip going on in your office, put an end to it immediately. Gossip can be toxic to any business and can very quickly get out of hand, so make sure you have a zero-tolerance policy in place and stop it before it even has a chance to start.
Communication in the office is essential to running the administrative side as well as the clinical side smoothly. And with our world going through this rough change, effective communication is more important than ever.
Active listening will assist you in keeping an eye on staff and patients, whether it’s for details or symptoms. Keeping everyone on the same page while staying consistent will not only reduce gossip in the office but will boost morale and trust in you as a leader.
With the pandemic still upon us, and life nowhere near normal as of yet, it’s always important to remember that whether you’re a dental office manager or a receptionist, a hygienist or a dentist, (or a copywriter for a dental software company), we are not alone, and we will get through this only one way: together.
Thank you to everyone on the frontlines, working hard to keep us all safe in this trying time.
Till my next post: Stay safe and stay healthy.