Each week I share the best job-finding strategies. This week is no different, but it will also help you help your patients.
One of the most powerful persuasion techniques used by expert negotiators and influencers comes down to two simple questions you can ask when confronted with those all-to-common self-defeating statements you hear from patients, friends and family, and even yourself.
Do these statements sound familiar:
- “It’s impossible to find a job, there are too many hygienists,” or
- “There’s no way I am going to get hired because I…,”
Or, from patients:
- “I’ll never be good at flossing because I…,” or
- “I can’t afford that treatment plan.”
The art of talking a patient or yourself into believing doesn’t consist of giving them a bunch of affirming statements – as good as those are. A vote of confidence like, “You can do this,” or “I believe in you,” are nice and good things to say, but they aren’t overly effective at leading a person to change.
Instead, warm them up with a short affirmation and then go right into the first of two simple questions (in this order):
- “Do you believe it would make a difference in your life?”
Wait for the response, which would almost inevitably be, “Yes,” then ask the next question:
- “What would make it possible?”
The word “yes” isn’t just a simple response – it’s actually a very powerful word all professional negotiators seek to get from the person they are influencing early on and often during the conversation. “Yes,” puts them on the same page as you – it gets them on your team. It’s a small, yet powerful commitment from them.
Once you have them on your team, you can begin to unravel the closed thinking that those “impossible” statements reveal. That second question begins to move a person from thinking “there’s no way” to “there’s a chance.” And then can begin a serious discussion about what conditions and actions would or could be taken to change things.
Depending on how hostile or snarky you or your patient are about the question, you should prepare yourself for this kind of response from them (or yourself):
- “If I had a million dollars I could afford postcards – okay, then maybe I could find a job.”
- “If you were standing next to me every night telling me to floss, then I would do it.”
Let me assure you, these are common responses to the second question. Really, they are throwing it out there as a last-ditch response they think you can’t match… except you can.
Here’s what you say:
- “So if I have enough money, then I could afford the postcards and that would help me land a job.”
- “So if I write you a little note to put in your bathroom, it will help you remember to floss?”
Basically, you’re acknowledging their core belief, but not the ridiculous features of that belief so that you can engage with them (or yourself) on a more rational level. This can lead you or them into the next steps, which is to lay out some specific actions that can be taken to reach the desired outcome.
If your concern were that you don’t have enough money for postcards, you could layout a series of steps to further help change that outlook:
- Determine how much postcards cost
- Determine how much I can spend on them now
- Are there shortcuts or alternative methods to keep the cost down?
- Am I able to save up some money and, if so, how much per week or month?
- What is my time frame for doing all of this?
In working with your patients to floss more, create with them this same type of list:
- How much time will flossing take you each night?
- How much time do you have right now each night?
- Would it be better to do it first or last as part of your nighttime routine?
- Will a reminder note from your hygienist or maybe a recurring notice on your phone help?
Again, the whole idea is to replace the word “impossible” with “possible.” Action is still required, and is often the hardest part, but a good plan and commitment to that plan is necessary and will make the difference.
This two-question strategy can work in lots of other things, too. There is simply no end to instances and places where we encounter defeated thinking in ourselves and those around us.
The more you practice it the better you will get at guiding both your patients and yourself into a higher level of achievement (including, landing a great dental hygiene job).