Most of us in the dental world spend our day talking. We’re explaining, motivating, counseling or instructing.

We also function on teams that must interact together smoothly to ensure the best possible experience for our patients. The words we choose have a tremendous impact which is why it’s important they are positive and collaborative. Look at the following list and take a moment to think about how these words and phrases register for you.



Positive Alternative

Contract   Agreement
Problem   Challenge
Objection   Concern
Fee   Total
Mistake   Area for Improvement

Words not only have a definition, but a tone. Small changes in word choice can make a big difference. A recent example from customer care coaches is use of the phrase “no problem” vs. “my pleasure” after a patient expresses thanks. Which feels better?


“Yes, and…”

In an increasingly competitive industry, where the patient experience is key, incorporating some new, easy-to-learn communication techniques can also be powerful. One communication tool that demonstrates the power of your word choice is the improvisation technique called the “Yes, and…” phrase. For example:

Patient: “I only want to do what my insurance covers” or “I can only afford what my insurance covers”.

Response: “Yes, and we will do everything we can to help you maximize your insurance benefits. I understand how you pay for the treatment you need, for your health, is a concern. It would be for me too. Let’s look at some financial options so you can get what you need.”

Patient: “I don’t like flossing. It just takes too much time. I can’t regularly do it”

Response: “Yes, and that is completely within your right to choose. The latest studies however do point to how periodontal disease is linked to various other diseases. I know you care about your health so let’s look at various ways for you to maintain your periodontal health.”

The “Yes, and” technique requires active listening. It positions you to be a collaborator and an active problem-solver. To be successful you have to be present, positive, and responsive.


Word Choice

Word choice can also influence your team morale. Let’s imagine you need to meet with a person on your team. The sentence “I need to talk to you” or “we need to talk” is often met with mild to moderate alarm. The phrase “Are you available to talk soon?” imparts a sense of respect and collaboration. “Yes, and” could also be used in this scenario.

Doctor: “Are you available to talk soon?”

Team member: “Yes, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been wanting to connect about our scheduling flow.”

We encourage you to choose positive language and exercise “Yes, and” whenever possible. Remember, your words have power!

If you’re interested in more information about enhancing communication in your practice, please contact us.


Your success is our success. Please reach out to us anytime.
Learn more, visit the Practice Support Team page, call 1.800.665.5323 or email us at

Burkhart Dental Supply – Practice Support Team


Category: Practice Consulting

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