Become a World-Class Listener Part 2

August 13, 2018 Bill Gregg DDS

Listening is a skill everyone likes to talk about but very few actually know how to enact. It’s more challenging than we might think to really shut our mouths and pay attention without constantly interrupting or adding our two cents.

In my last blog, I talked about offering an empty presence and letting the person finish their story. Here, I cover other important listening skills. We should all make the effort to speak less and hear more.

Become a Truly Great Listener

Listen for Their Heart

Listen for the feelings behind the words. Can you hear voice fluctuations? Can you read their eyes? Feelings of regret, fear, grief, hope, etc.

Using the balloon symbolism, I picture a red balloon filling with their emotions as I listen for feelings. There is no higher form of communication than heartfelt, empathetic listening. The balloon symbolism may feel silly, but it will help.

You cannot be heard until the patient’s emotional bubble is deflated through your quiet confidence and empathetic understanding.

Ask Permission to Go Forward

When you ask for and receive permission to offer advice, you are much more likely to be heard. This is truly one of the most intuitive questions you can ever ask and does wonders for building rapport: “May I give you some initial thoughts?”  or “May I have permission to consider what you have told me and study possible solutions?” 

Once a person has given you permission, they are more likely to become a partner in solutions. 

There is no greater gift of healing, expression of love and builder of self-esteem we can offer those special people we care about most, including our family, friends, patients, co-workers, and community, than listening. Everyone wants to be heard.

How do you practice listening skills? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Bill Gregg DDS

I attended South Hills High School in Covina, Denison University in Granville, Ohio and the University of Redlands in Redlands, California prior to dental school at UCLA. My post-graduate education has included an intensive residency at UCLA Hospital, completion of a graduate program at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education ; acceptance for Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD); and in 2006 I earned the prestegious Pankey Scholar. Continuing education has always been essential in the preparation to be the best professional I am capable of becoming and to my ongoing commitment to excellence in dental care and personal leadership. I am a member of several dental associations and study groups and am involved in over 100 hours of continuing education each year. The journey to become one of the best dentists in the world often starts at the Pankey Institute. I am thrilled that I am at a point in my professional life that I can give back. I am honored that I can be a mentor to others beginning on their path. As such, I have discovered a new passion; teaching. I am currently on faculty at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education devoting 2-3 weeks each year to teaching post-graduate dental programs. In other presentations my focus is on Leadership and includes lifestyle, balance and motivation as much as dentistry.

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