Connecting with your team – peel back the onion

This month, Jamie Morley discusses why peeling back the layers of a person allows you to understand and connect with your team.

This month, Jamie Morley discusses why peeling back the layers of a person allows you to understand and connect with your team.

To lead your people effectively you have to understand and connect with your people.

Dilts developed the Logical Levels model of rapport which is helpful to consider in the context of connecting with your people.

The overall concept is that the more we understand these different levels of rapport, the greater the rapport we have with that individual.

In addition, the more we move up the pyramid, the deeper the level of connection we have with that person.

It also helps us understand why people are behaving in a specific way, when you could potentially be seeing that the way they are behaving is going against what you have asked them to do.

If we work through the different levels we can understand them further.


What is the environment like for this person currently? What are the specific things going on in that person’s world?

Any member of your team is likely to be experiencing an environment which is very different to yours and to other members of the team.

As an example you could have two kids and live in a spacious four bedroom detached house with your husband. You spend your time looking after the kids and trying to juggle work and family commitments.

On the other hand, one of your team is single and living in a one bedroom apartment in the centre of town. They spend their time enjoying social events with their closest friends and making new friendships.

The environment is very different. Understanding this and then paying attention to this will help build rapport with that person.

The environment can also be very different for any specific moment in time due to something happening in that person’s life.

Understanding the environment of individual people within our team can help us understand how we can motivate this person in a way that fits with their current environment.


What are the behaviours that this person typically demonstrates? This is where personality fits in.

Is this person more of an extravert or an introvert? Is this person more questioning or accepting?

What are we asking this person to do? Does it naturally fit within their personality profile?

Everybody can behave in the way of different personality styles. Indeed it can help to push this person out of their natural comfort zone.

However, repeatedly behaving in line with a different style is likely to be tiring for that person and might not be that enjoyable.

We can ensure the appropriate styles are being used for that situation and find the balance for individuals of what comes natural to them versus challenging and growth.


What specific skills does this person possess? What technical skills is this person good at? And what behavioural skills does this person have?

For example, is this associate particularly good at doing root canals or composite bonding?

Is this staff member particularly good at connecting with patients and making them feel comfortable and relaxed? Are they using their skills to maximum effect in their role?

This month, Jamie Morley discusses why peeling back the layers of a person allows you to understand and connect with your team.

Values and beliefs

What are the core values and beliefs of this person?

Uncovering the person’s core values and exactly how this person defines those core values will help you connect with that person at a deeper level.

Is there anything you are asking of this person that goes against their core values and beliefs?

Is there a belief this person has that is preventing them moving forward on something?

Uncovering these will give you a much deeper understanding of that person.


What does this person stand for? What is part of this person’s identity?

As an example, a person’s work may be a big part of their identity. They could have something outside of work which defines part of this identity.

Perhaps they see themselves as being good at sport. Perhaps they do not see themselves as being academic. Or perhaps they see themselves as being good with people.

What are the things that are a significant part of their identity?


What is this person here to do on this earth? What is their ongoing core purpose in life?

How does this align with the purpose of the dental practice they are a part of?

When we are able to understand an individual at these different levels, it helps us connect more deeply with that person.

It is a bit like uncovering the different layers of the onion. Gradually you are peeling back the layers to understand those things that are most important.

In general when something is touched which is higher up the logical level pyramid, this will trump anything below it.

I think issues around sustainability are a good example of this. We have been talking about sustainability for quite a few years, yet not much has really changed.

Only now are people starting to see it as an important part of their core values and beliefs.

As a result, people are learning new skills and behaviours so as to ensure they are doing things in a more sustainable way, even if this may be additional hassle and cost. So the belief of the importance of sustainability is trumping any challenges on the logical levels below.

When we are looking for an individual to change we have to seek to understand these different levels so as to connect and work out if that change is possible and how it might take place

Jamie Morley is the author of Lead Your Dental Practice available at

Read more from Jamie Morley:

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar