Dentists Who Get Results: The Extraordinary Power of Emotional Intelligence
by Bob Frazer, Jr, DDS,
The business literature from Harvard Business Review to MIT’s Sloan
Management has been filled with the revolutionary findings of David
McClelland, Robert Cooper and Daniel Goleman. Research studies on some
2,800 star performers done by Harvard and Rutgers that show that 75% of
high achiever's success comes from Emotional Intelligence (E.I.), while
25% comes from necessary technical competency. The first of a twenty
article series by Dr. Bob Frazer for Dental Economics.
Every major discretionary (dental) purchase is first
and foremost an emotional decision. Effective leadership of a practice
demands emotional competency. Therefore, E.I. is central to our
As a practitioner, speaker, and performance coach to
dentists for over twenty-five years, I have seen a pattern among the
dentists and teams with whom we've worked. Often the most
intellectually gifted (high I.Q.) and technically excellent dentists
seem to be on a never-ending journey to elevate their technical
competency. But, many end up frustrated, sometimes even depressed, as
they encounter countless recurring leadership and staff problems, plus
no matter how much they learn, they can’t get most patients to elect
their finest service.
At the same time, I encounter good dentists,
generally well trained, with half the technical training, who have
happy, prosperous practices with patients wanting the dentistry they
offer. So what is the difference? I am convinced one must have
technical competency, but the difference… particularly among the star
performers is Emotional Intelligence.
"Emotional Intelligence is defined as our capacity
for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating
ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and our
relationships." 1 It involves four key domains with a subset of eighteen
emotional competencies. The four domains are: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Research has
shown with unprecedented precision, that unlike I.Q., E.Q. your
emotional quotient can be raised through emotional competency training
Let me illustrate my point with a recent experience.
During a visit to one of my new performance coaching clients, I sat in
on a case presentation. My client had prepared models, photographs and
a computer generated treatment plan. The patient, “Kathy,” and her
husband, “Ed,” were welcomed and escorted to the consultation room, where
the doctor greeted them warmly and introduced me, the visiting doctor
(who they knew would observe).
They were a healthy looking, casually well dressed
couple in their mid 60s. This was a second consultation for Kathy in
order for Ed to understand his wife's problems and recommended
treatment. My doctor/client had recommended full reconstruction
beginning with the maxillary teeth. Kathy's primary need when she
presented, was the correction of her appearance from upper second
bicuspid to second bicuspid. She had congenitally missing laterals that
some years earlier had been replaced with a Maryland Bridge. There was
moderate wear on the upper and lower anterior teeth, plus a number of
discolored large old composites. Kathy was physically attractive, but
her smile clearly detracted from her appearance, causing her to look 10
years older. She was soft spoken and was most concerned about the
implants that had been recommended.
Ed was quite warm and extroverted. He projected the
charisma of one who was a leader. After too short an initial dialogue,
my client jumped right into Kathy's problems and how they could best be
solved with a combination of implants and crowns. When the word implant
was mentioned both Kathy and Ed's brows wrinkled slightly and they
looked either confused or concerned.
My client was on a roll with her models, photos, plus
pictures of implants and it was about five minutes before she stopped
to ask if they understood or had questions. They were concerned about
the surgery and the appearance of implants. My client fielded that
technically quite nicely, then noted that bridges could be used and
They liked that idea. But, then Ed wanted to know
what just the upper dentistry would cost, since he was a little shocked
by the total fee for upper and lower (~$30,000.) My client answered
about $12,000. But, she did not help him understand the fact that the
upper needed to couple well with the lower, and without restoring the
lower there would be an over contour of the lingual of the uppers. In
turn, this would accelerate the wear on the lowers and within five
years, Kathy would have to have the lower restored and then the upper
would have to be reshaped or remade.
Very quickly a complete reconstruction was
degenerating into segmented treatment for only the most visible. My
client was unwittingly unselling the case. Not because of technical
competence (she has extensive post-graduate training), but because of
lack of Emotional Intelligence. She was not resonating with this
It was obvious to me when Ed and Kathy arrived that
they were people of means, who valued health and wanted to do what was
best. They simply were concerned about surgery and I sensed they did
not want to compromise treatment. How did I know that? Through EQ.
Although, I was not there to enter into the dialogue,
I couldn't resist! I simply asked to see the models and then asked my
doctor/client the implications of not doing the lower teeth at the same
time. As she described the negative implication, I watched Kathy and
Ed's facial expressions. This was not what they wanted. Then, I simply
said, "You two strike me as people who want things done once and done
well." They nodded agreement and I said, "Then it's crucial to do these
together." I added that doing both together would add a youthfulness to
Kathy's smile and face.
My client later thanked me for saving the case. Much
of our coaching work will center on elevating her EQ, so that she can
raise her awareness of her own and other's feelings quickly, responding
gracefully in a resonant and motivating way.
No discussion of Emotional Intelligence would be
complete without visiting its origins. It really began in about 1970
with the work of Harvard's David McClelland. He was exploring the
ingredients of superb job performance. At the beginning of the 20th
Century, Fredrick Taylor had proposed that the best human performance
was the measure of human work against the machine. IQ, the capacity of
the human mind, soon replaced Taylorism. Following that personality
arose as a key ingredient to excellence. But, somehow neither seemed to
adequately predict success. Some of the highest IQ people and some of
the most attractive personalities were dismal underachievers.1
McClelland was hired by the State Department to assess the capabilities
of the most outstanding diplomats. Selection for a diplomatic post was
based largely on tested abilities in things like history, cultural
understanding, language fluency or special knowledge in fields like
economics. However, the tests did not correlate with success in the
field. In fact many of the best foreign-service people had barely
McClelland created radically different tests like
having people watch snippets of videotapes of people talking about
emotional situations or having an argument. He used an electronic
filter to alter sounds. What came through were tones and nuances of
body language that revealed how a person was feeling. He found that the
stars scored much higher than the average diplomat. Daniel Goleman,
whose writings where researched for this series, was a graduate student
of McClelland, and it is his books Emotional Intelligence, Working with
Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership, that have popularized
E.I. into the business literature of today.
McClelland's consulting firm of Hey/McBer pioneered
the research of high performers noted in the first paragraph of this
article. Goleman states, "Paradoxically, IQ has the least power in
predicting success among that pool of people smart enough to handle the
most cognitively demanding fields, and the value of emotional
intelligence grows more powerful the higher the intelligence barriers
for entry into a field. In careers like engineering, law or medicine,
where professional selection focuses on intellectual abilities,
emotional intelligence carries much more weight than IQ in determining
who emerges as a leader." 1
So what are the basics of Emotional Intelligence?
Validated research says they are:
• Knowing your feelings and employing them to make life decisions you
can live with.
• The ability to mange your emotional life without being hijacked by
• Persistence in the face of setbacks while channeling your impulses in
order to pursue your goals.
• Empathy - reading another's emotions without their having to tell you
what they are feeling.
• Managing feelings in a relationship with skill and harmony... for
example being able to express the unspoken pulse of another or a group.
All of these are essential competencies found in the
high achieving dentist, professional. Over the next several months
we'll explore the powerful concepts of E.I. in our patient and team
interactions, plus how to grow you E.Q. so that you and your team can
join the stars of our profession.
To dig deeper into this subject in general, I highly
recommend the work of Daniel Goleman, PhD...Working With Emotional
Intelligence and Primal Leadership. For its application in dental
practice please contact us for more information. Thank you.
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Dentist & Teams That Get Results - Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence
This audio program with printed supplements can help you raise your effectiveness as a leader, fully connect with people, and achieve breakthrough gains in your and your team's performance. Meanwhile, you will learn how to extinguish recurring team problems and increase case acceptance.
Studies at Harvard and Rutgers have shown that 75% of star performers' success stems from Emotional Intelligence (E.I.), while 25% is due to necessary technical competence.
If you want to reduce work-related stress, increase your profits and build better relationships, this program on Emotional Intelligence is for you! Brimming with humor and wisdom, listen as Dr. Bob Frazer and Bill Woodburn apply insights of human psychology to building a successful dental practice.
This six-hour live recording from our nationally acclaimed three-day E.I. workshop, with doctors and their teams, will help you:
• Discover the power of Emotional Intelligence and its applications to dentistry.
• Raise your effectiveness as a leader.
• More fully connect with people.
• Achieve breakthrough gains in your and your team's performance and results.
• Explore the four forms of listening and how to hear the emotions underlying the issues.
• Understand and extinguish recurring staff problems.
• Increase case acceptance by learning how major purchases are laden with emotion.
• Handle the emotions that commonly accompany money and insurance issues.
• Find out how to ensure meaningful change.
• Create an action plan for elevating your own E.Q. (emotional quotient).
What you get: 6 CD set (7+ hours), plus valuable handouts.
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Bill Woodburn is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Marriage & Family Therapist with 20 years’ experience helping people find healing inside family and work groups. He co-leads our Emotional Intelligence workshops with Bob.
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