“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”
Our mission — providing quality, compassionate dental care that transforms lives in underserved areas around the world — is simple, but it is not easy! The only way our mission is going to be accomplished is when every member of our team brings their talents to the table, takes ownership of the mission, and invests mind/body/soul to make it happen. There is no other way. The need is too great, our resources are too few, and there are too many moving parts.
Each and every member of our team is a leader. We stress this during our interview process, throughout initial team member training, and daily during our morning huddle. We are all responsible for creating a culture that is transformative and joyful. What we do, how we think, the words we speak, the way we use our time… it all matters. Communication is critical for all effective leaders. Thus the need for each of us to become expert communicators!
These four Cs sum up what we are focusing on in regards to quality communication with our patients and team members:
Clarity: Our messages need to be simple and concise. We are teaching our patients totally new ideas regarding preventative health care. Training new team members is even more complicated as our assistants generally have zero dental experience! So our messages must be simple and clear. We need to focus on 2 or 3 points at a time and communicate them efficiently and effectively. We ask questions to ensure our patients and team members understand what we are saying and why we are saying it. If they don’t, we aren’t being clear enough! Simple. We have to be brutally honest with ourselves here. We need to constantly analyze the clarity of our communication. If my points are not understood, it is NOT the patient or team member’s fault. It is MY fault for not communicating clearly.
Consistency: It’s not enough to simply teach a patient about proper hygiene and dietary habits on their first visit. Unfortunately it’s not enough to talk once about coming to work on time during the interview with our new teammates. If something isn’t up to our standards, we need to consistently communicate why it’s important! Every time we see a patient we need to build on our previous communication. What challenges has our patient faced? What success has he or she experienced? The points we emphasize are going to be what the patient focuses on. Our message needs to be consistent, or it’s going to get lost. The ideas we consistently focus on will cement themselves in our culture. Those we talk about once will get lost in the noise.
Continuity: Communication is happening ALL THE TIME. All day, every day we are continuously communicating what we value. The way we walk, our posture, our tone of voice, eye contact… it all communicates how much we actually value what we are doing. So we focus on developing habits that communicate that our actions matter. Each of us wakes up to the reality that our lives make a difference. Patients need to believe health is possible when all they’ve ever known is pain and suffering — and we need to communicate to them that we believe it’s possible! Life transformation is a result of effective communication.
Conviction: Most of all, the way we do things communicates what we believe about God. If you followed me around all day, would you see someone who is passionate about God’s Kingdom work on earth? The empty tomb means we can work here on earth without fear because Jesus has defeated death. Miraculously He calls us to be a part of His Kingdom building. He doesn’t tell us to just hang out here on earth and wait to be whisked off to some other magical after-life. As a Christian, I believe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus instituted God’s Kingdom here on earth. Somehow, as God’s children in Christ, we are ambassadors of that Kingdom. Jesus tells us, incredibly, to pray that God’s Kingdom be established on earth as it is in heaven. Our lives are meant to be spent loving God, loving others, and colonizing earth with the life of Heaven.
So the most important question we need to ask ourselves is: How are our lives communicating that?