Personality types – the key to patient communication

A personal touch: Justin Leigh explains how an understanding of personality types can help dental professionals engage more effectively with patients.

Understanding and acknowledging the diversity of personality types is essential when dealing with patients. Every individual sees the world from a unique perspective, and their personality reflects this.

In this article, we will explore the importance of recognising different personality types and how tailoring our approach to match their communication styles can lead to more successful patient interactions.

Acknowledging that people have varying communication styles and preferences is crucial in establishing a strong rapport with patients. The adage ‘treat people how you would like to be treated’ assumes a one-size-fits-all approach, which may not resonate with everyone.

Instead, adopting a patient-centric style where we treat people the way they want to be treated fosters a sense of understanding and connection. When patients feel heard and valued, they become more open to discussing their needs and concerns, leading to more fruitful conversations and improved patient relationships.

Introvert or extrovert?

Understanding the fundamental differences between introverted and extroverted individuals helps us tailor our communication style to match theirs.

Introverts tend to be reflective and thoughtful, and often need time to process information before responding. When engaging with introverted patients, it’s essential to give them space to speak, avoid interrupting, and provide opportunities for quiet reflection. Patience is key in building trust with introverts, as they may take longer to make decisions.

On the other hand, extroverts are more outgoing, expressive and comfortable sharing their thoughts openly. When communicating with extroverted patients, active listening and enthusiastic engagement are essential. They appreciate a dynamic, lively conversation and may be more receptive to immediate responses and quick decision making.

Big picture or detail?

People’s decision-making preferences often fall into two categories: focusing on the big picture or delving into the details.

Patients who are big-picture thinkers are goal oriented and more interested in the overall vision and outcomes. To effectively engage with them, present a clear and concise overview of treatment, highlighting its benefits and alignment with their needs. Avoid inundating them with too many details initially, as it may distract or overwhelm them.

Conversely, detail-oriented patients place great emphasis on understanding the intricacies of the product or service. They want to know the specifics, ask detailed questions, and ensure that everything aligns perfectly with their requirements. When interacting with detail-oriented patients, be prepared to provide in-depth information, answer specific questions and address any concerns they may have.

Adapting to personality types

Appreciating that individuals possess diverse personality types is the first step in effectively adapting our approach to accommodate their preferences.

By acknowledging these differences, we can tailor our communication style, discussion methods and engagement techniques to suit each patient’s unique personality. This level of adaptability not only enhances patient satisfaction but also demonstrates a commitment to understanding and meeting their needs.

Becoming a chameleon

In the context of patient interactions, being a chameleon refers to our ability to adjust and adapt to different patient personalities seamlessly. It involves actively observing and understanding the patient’s communication cues, body language and verbal expressions to match their style.

Being a chameleon doesn’t mean being inauthentic. Instead, it’s about being flexible and versatile in our approach while maintaining our core values and message. This adaptability fosters trust and rapport, making patients feel more comfortable and understood and improving the outcomes of our interactions.

When we take the time to understand and adapt to patients’ personality types, we demonstrate empathy and respect for their individuality. This heightened level of understanding builds stronger relationships and fosters a deeper sense of connection with patients.

They will appreciate our efforts to tailor our approach to their preferences, leading to increased loyalty, trust and long-term relationships. By valuing each patient as a unique individual, we create a positive and memorable experience that sets us apart from our competition and creates loyalty.

Team dynamics

Understanding and discussing different personality types within a team can also lead to improved collaboration and patient engagement. Understanding each team member’s strengths and communication styles allows for more effective task delegation and seamless coordination during patient interactions.

By leveraging team members’ diverse strengths and personality traits, the team can collectively create a more engaging and satisfying experience for patients. Adapting our approach to patients’ personality types is an invaluable asset that allows us to foster more successful relationships.

By understanding the factors that vary between personality types and adapting to treat patients how they want to be treated, we can build stronger connections, influence more effectively, and ultimately achieve better results for both our patients and our practice. Embracing this patient-centric mindset and incorporating it into an effective approach to communicating will transform patient interactions, leading to enhanced performance and greater success.

Learn more about understanding patients for better results by reading Justin Leigh’s book, Inspire, Consult, Sell.

If you prefer a more hands-on approach to learning, you can enrol in the Practice Growth Academy.

Contact Justin directly for more information at [email protected].

You can connect with Justin and access some of the Focus4growth resources at

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