The Wonder of Relevant Examples – Part 1

March 18, 2022 Richard Green DDS MBA

Doctor L.D. Pankey would often say to me, “Communicate with others by making your examples relevant to the other person’s experience or frame of reference.”

Years ago, I had been asked by a young dentist to come to his office and help him with the implementation of his new learning with occlusion applied to bite splints and equilibration. I suggested he line up a few patients for us to work on together during my visit. When we arrived at his office early in the morning to talk about the patients we were going to see together over the next two days, I asked him to bring me up to speed on where he was in treatment with the patients and the conversations he had had with them. We also looked at full mouth models, models of bite splints, and radiographs. I asked him what he wanted me to do with the first patient who was coming in that morning.

He said, “I want to watch you sell him a bite splint!” A little surprised, I asked him to tell me about the patient. He said he was a new acquaintance. They played golf together and occasionally gambled as they played to keep their interest up in the game. They also gave each other a hard time about handicap ratings. He mentioned he felt a bit embarrassed because he thought he knew what was best for his new friend and had kind of hustled his friend on the golf course to be a patient. Now he was feeling a bit guilty about having his new friend come in as a patient, and he could not bring himself to a have conversation concerning the benefits of a bite splint.

Charlie (the friend) appeared, and the dentist introduced me. Charlie and I stood about the same height. We looked each other in the eye, and we smiled at each other – a good beginning. In my mind, I was repeating slowly to myself, “Find a relevant connection.”

I said, “Thanks for taking the time to come in and meet me on such a beautiful Spring day, as I pointed to a comfortable chair for him to sit in.”

He offered something about how golf could be a bit boring if you played it too much. Still looking for a relevant connection, since my “stated task” was to sell him a bite splint, I asked him about his work, and he said he was retired from directing filmed commercials. I asked him what he did with his new found time aside from golf. He smiled a big smile and said he ran about five to seven miles a day. I smiled as I remembered the years when I ran three to five miles a day during the week and seven to ten miles on weekends. A light bulb went on, in my head, and I knew a question I could ask to engage him and tweak his curiosity.

I asked, “How often do you buy new running shoes?” And without hesitation, he said, “Every four hundred miles.” I then asked, “How did you discover that interval?”

He reached down with his right hand and rubbed the lateral surface of his right leg from the mid-thigh, across the lateral surface of his knee, to the lateral surface of his calf, while telling me of the discomfort he would experience in his muscles when the bottoms of his running shoes became worn.

I made the statement, “You must run with the traffic!” Surprised, he asked, “How do you know that?”

I told him I experienced the same thing when I ran on a road with the traffic, especially when the road had a bit of a “crown” on its surface. I thought I had found a relevant connection, and I let it sink in a bit. Then, I told him his dentist friend wanted to offer him a new pair of shoes for the top of his teeth in the form of a removable bite splint. It would be like getting a new pair of running shoes. It would be professionally custom fitted to the tops of his teeth, which would please your chewing muscles and create greater comfort, just like a new pair of running shoes pleased his leg muscles and knee joint.

Charlie looked at his dentist friend and then at me before standing up. With a big smile he said, “I will make an appointment with the receptionist.” Hmmm… Isn’t that Interesting!

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E3: Restorative Integration of Form & Function

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Understanding that “form follows function” is critical for knowing how to blend what looks good with what predictably functions well. E3 is the phase of your Essentials journey in which…

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Richard Green DDS MBA

Rich Green, D.D.S., M.B.A. is the founder and Director Emeritus of The Pankey Institute Business Systems Development program. He retired from The Pankey Institute in 2004. He has created Evergreen Consulting Group, Inc., to continue his work encouraging and assisting dentists in making the personal choices that will shape their practices according to their personal vision of success to achieve their preferred future in dentistry. Rich Green received his dental degree from Northwestern University in 1966. He was a early colleague and student of Bob Barkley in Illinois. He had frequent contact with Bob Barkley because of his interest in the behavioral aspects of dentistry. Rich Green has been associated with The Pankey Institute since its inception, first as a student, then as a Visiting Faculty member beginning in 1974, and finally joining the Institute full time in 1994. While maintaining his practice in Hinsdale, IL, Rich Green became involved in the management aspects of dentistry and, in 1981, joined Selection Research Corporation (an affiliate of The Gallup Organization) as an associate. This relationship and his interest in management led to his graduation in 1992 with a Masters in Business Administration from the Keller Graduate School in Chicago.

One thought on “The Wonder of Relevant Examples – Part 1

  1. I have often used this and similar stories since you shared it with me! I learn so much from you and thank you for carrying on the reminder to make a relevant connection!

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