How changing your words can change your results

focus on communicationBy changing words you can change your results, says Jane Lelean.

The concept of your words changing your results is one of three approaches to overcoming objections taught at my two-day communication and sales training programme: ‘Patient centred sales best choices’.

On occasion, clinicians forget to solve objections before a client raises one. This leaves patients to raise them with us or our front of house team.

Your patient may say:

  • ‘I want my teeth whitened but I don’t have that money in my account’
  • ‘I think visits to the hygienist would help but I work full time’
  • ‘I think I want the root canal instead of an extraction, but I am scared I can’t keep my mouth open for that long’.

When patients raise an objection using the word ‘but’, we use ‘the but flip’.

Before we move on and explain ‘the but flip,’ go back and reread those three sentences and notice where your attention is drawn. Is it to the content before or after the ‘but’?

Most people notice their attention is drawn to the objection after the ‘but’. This sentence construction prohibits the possibility of the treatment completion. Simply by virtue of the presence of the objection and the use of the word ‘but’.

Changing the focus

Fig. 1

Change one word and pay attention to how your focus changes.

  • ‘I want my teeth whitened and I don’t have that money in my account’
  • ‘I think visits to the hygienist would help and I work full time’
  • ‘I think I want the root canal instead of an extraction, and I am scared I can’t keep my mouth open for that long’.

Re-read the three sentences, where is your attention now? The use of the word ‘and’ gives equal focus to what is said before and what is said after. There is now an element of possibility.

Change a word again and pay attention to how your focus changes.

  • ‘I want my teeth whitened even though I don’t have that money in my account’
  • ‘I think visits to the hygienist would help even though I work full time’
  • ‘I think I want the root canal instead of an extraction, even though I am scared I can’t keep my mouth open for that long.’

Have you noticed that your attention is now focused on the outcome in front of the ‘even though’? (Figure 1).

Moving forward

Next time a patient raises an objection using the word ‘but’ experiment with ‘the but flip.’

Patient: ‘I want my teeth whitened but I don’t have that money in my account.’

Dentist: ‘You want your teeth whitened even though you don’t have that money in your account right now. How can we help you make it affordable?’

Patient: ‘I think visits to the hygienist would help but I work full time.’

Dentist: ‘You think visits to the hygienist would help even though work full time. What time of day, or day of the week could you come in? We offer early morning, late evening, and weekend appointments.’

Patient: ‘I think I want the root canal instead of an extraction, but I am scared I can’t keep my mouth open for that long.’

Dentist: ‘’You want the root canal instead of an extraction, even though you are scared you can’t keep my mouth open for that long. What do you think would make it more comfortable for you?’

When you have used ‘the but flip’, let me know what results you have.


To find out more about ‘Patient centred sales best choices’ and other practice development programmes, call Jane on 07989 757 884 or email [email protected].

This article first appeared in Dentistry magazine. You can read the latest issue here. 

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