DISC- IT’S MORE THAN JUST A FRISBEE
A Great Way to Help Your Practice Soar
What is the DISC? DISC is an easy to understand personality assessment system that looks at observable behaviors. For me, it was one of the keys to my successful solo, fee-for-service, dental practice of 28 years. How does the DISC work and what does it measure? The assessment measures how direct or indirect someone may be in their communication. For example, you may ask yourself if the people you are talking with are more open or more reserved in their communication? Does this one person like to talk or are they better at listening? Also, the DISC identifies peoples’ priorities. Are they more oriented towards completing tasks or they a “people person?” What about a person’s pace of life? The DISC assesses that attribute as well. Do they tend to talk, move, or make decisions quickly or do they operate at a slower pace, tend to be quiet, and need more time to think about things? The DISC helps you see and identify these different aspects of behavior. In the DISC system, there are four basic styles of identifiable behavior: The Dominant/Driver or the “D”, The Influencer or the “I”, The Sustainer/Steadiness or the “S”, and The Conscientious/Analytic or the “C”.
Why is knowing this helpful to a dental practice? The answer is clear . . . dentistry is a people business. Here’s the plain truth . . . most people don’t enjoy or look forward to visiting their dentist! With that being understood, the first priority of the dental team, including the dentist, is to provide care in a way that makes the patient feel most comfortable and deeply understood. Building trust with our patients and our team members must always come first. The best way to do that is through excellence not only in our technical skills but also through excellence in our communication. Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Understanding the DISC is a great way to help you first better understand yourself and then second, better connect with your patients and team by taking the time to observe and understand their behavioral styles. Once you know that, you can modify your behavior to match the other person’s. As a result, your patients and your team members will feel heard. You’ll listen better and be equipped to more clearly assess the fears, needs, wants, and desires, of your patients and your team.
Who are the main stakeholders in a dental practice? There are three: the dentist or dentists, the dental team, and the patients. The DISC can be used for the benefit of all three groups. As the dentist and leader of your practice, if you are struggling with communicating with your patients and team, the DISC system can help. Perhaps you are coming across too directly when you speak. Or maybe you are drowning your team and your patients with lots of information. If so, use the DISC. Are you a dentist who always does things quickly? Or maybe you’re very “social” or a “talker” that likes to chit-chat with every patient. Do you have team members whose personalities are clashing? Or maybe you have team members where one works quickly and the other one likes to take their time doing things more slowly, methodically, and carefully. In this situation, you might overhear the frustrated, fast-paced team member say to the slower one, “Could you speed things up? We’ve got a lot of work to do around here.” You then might observe the slower one not responding to that remark or perhaps they might respond a few days later saying something like, “I was just trying to be thorough and do a good job!” If your team is struggling with issues like this, the DISC can help them better understand one another, strengthen their relationships, and help them work together competently and collaboratively rather than critically and antagonistically. Are you looking to hire the right person for the right job? The DISC will help you assess a potential candidate’s strengths so that you can place them in a suitable position, one where they can best use their gifts and talents.
I first learned about the DISC system in 1995 while attending a Dental Boot Kamp seminar in Kerrville Texas. For me, when I look back at my dental practice, understanding the DISC system helped me grow my practice by helping me better understand myself, my team, and my patients. For years, I tried to apply “The Golden Rule” to my behavior. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Through Dental Boot Kamp and studying with Tony Alessandra, I learned “The Platinum Rule” which says, “Treat others the way they would like to be treated.” Learning this was an eye-opener for me. Prior to this knowledge, I was only connecting with others who were like me. Once I really understood my own personality along with the other behavioral styles, I learned to adapt my style to match the style of the person I was with. The result was an instant connection. If they talked fast, I talked fast. If they like only tidbits of information (the “bottom line”), that’s what I gave them, despite the fact I was someone who liked to “water board” everyone with lots of details.
According to the “Cross of Dentistry” espoused by Dr. L.D. Pankey, happiness and success in dentistry occurs when you as the dentist first know yourself, then know patient, thirdly know your work, and then apply your knowledge. In my dental practice, I used a modified version of the “Cross of Dentistry” that says, “Success and happiness in dentistry comes when you first know yourself, secondly, build an awesome team, then really get to know your patients, most importantly be an excellent dentist, and then ‘go and watch the happiness and money flow.’”
In summary, there are many benefits to learning and applying the DISC that include: increased communication and cooperation with your team and your patients, better assignment of jobs that allow each team member to work with their strengths, a more effective practice environment, better rapport, more credibility with everyone, and increased treatment acceptance.
If you’re looking to soar your life and dental practice to a place of more happiness, more joy, more fulfillment, and more financial success, start with learning and applying the DISC. Remember, dentistry is first and foremost a people business and it’s the relationships in our lives that matter the most. Lastly, remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”