Just Say No -Timeless Advice from Bob Newhart


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Some months ago I wrote a guest post on Lee Ann Brady’s blog called Trust is the Killer App. 

It is no great revelation to understand that no matter what business you are in, your success will depend on your ability to build trust and above all to develop trustworthiness.  In that post I described the Trust Equation:  T=C+R+I/S, where T stands for trustworthiness, C for credibility, R for reliability, I for intimacy and most importantly, S stands for self-orientation.

This is a topic I discuss thoroughly in my new book, The Art of Case Presentation...because trust is so germane to case presentation.

By far, the key to building trust is to increase the numerator and diminish the denominator…in other words to lower the degree to which you are self-focused.

But how do you do that?  My last post implied that you just do it (I hate when I get self-righteous), because it’s more difficult than you might imagine.  In fact it’s the essence of good leadership and falls under the categories of knowing oneself, self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social skills.  It requires the uncanny ability of executive attention, or focusing to the degree of shutting off your emotional brain. 

Most of the time we operate from our emotional brains…it’s the default.  When we don’t pay attention our minds wander.  When our minds wander—they wander to the self…increasing self-orientation and raising that denominator.

The key to reducing that number is to practice attention training…I’ll get to how in a second.

Dan Goleman, in his new book Focus, says, “Stopping on cue is the holy grail of cognitive control.”  By that he means that once we realize we have been emotionally hijacked we need to stop and correct.  In other words become more mindful.

After years and years of practicing dentistry, and fighting off my own demons (like an over-awareness of myself), I agree with Goleman that attention training and mindfulness is the key.  But it takes practice.  In my book I write about practicing the soft skills, but mindfulness practice can go a long way in helping you to develop the trustworthiness you will need to become an effective presenter.

What kind of practice?

Meditation, (Goleman suggests twenty minutes per session at least four times per week), and breathing exercises.

For me…I do meditate and I do hot yoga.  Both of these have done wonders for me physically but I can also tell you that the focus needed for both, slows the mind down…so I can become more aware…and just stop it when I am thinking of myself too much.

Simple? Yes. But not easy.

Or…just take the advice that Bob Newhart gives to his patient in the classic comedy skit that you can click on above.

Enjoy the video — it’s hilarious…and there’s a lot of wisdom and business sense in here too.












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Why Trust Prevails

images-3 “A little girl and her father were crossing a bridge.  The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter:
“Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don’t fall into the river.”
The little girl said:
“No, Dad.  You hold my hand.”
“What’s the difference?”  Asked the puzzled father.

“There’s a big difference,” replied the little girl.
“If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go.  But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go.”


In any relationship, the essence of trust is not in the bind, but in its bond.  So hold the hand of the person whom you love rather than expecting them to hold yours…

The bond between a parent and a child or between husband and wife is self evident.  Trust is mandatory.

That trust also exists between a student and a mentor.  I believe a dentist is lucky if he or she can find that relationship in life.  It’s not always available and seems to be more difficult to find in these trying times.

As dentists, we too are mentors to our patients.  Our role is to take our patients by the hand and lead them across a threshold from the world in which they live to a world of health.  In the terminology of Joseph Campbell, the mentor guides the hero from their “ordinary world” to a “special world” by providing the lessons and the tools to make the journey easier.

Think about the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker.  In order for the mentor to affect the hero to move him to another plane, the first threshold is to develop trust.  Without it nothing happens.  The mentor’s role is to push the hero through any resistance.

People really do want to change…as I have said so many times...they are begging to be lead.  They are just looking for someone to trust.

In my new book I write about being a “transparent leader,” one who is all about helping his patients without having an agenda.  Being transparent is the key.

Ultimately trusting your dentist will get the patient through any difficulty.  Patients don’t have to understand how the “Force” works…just to trust it.

In my book I write a lot about persuasion and influence, storytelling and photography, but without trust—nothing matters.

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5 Keys to an Effective Preclinical Examination

In our modern world of social media, face-to-face communication is becoming more ignored. There is no more effective way to get case acceptance than by doing a powerful comprehensive examination, and the most significant component of that examination is the preclinical portion…the time spent before you open the patient’s mouth.

So much is written about strategies and techniques that bring new patients into your dental practice, but without an effective conversion strategy, dentists end up kissing a lot of frogs before they meet the prince.

The preclinical examination technique described below can be the answer to your face-to-face conversion rates.

By breaking down the preclinical examination into its component parts, you can effectively begin to guide your patient toward better dentistry.

Here are 5 rules to follow for every preclinical examination that will lead to a higher level of trust.

1. Use good “improv technique.” Don’t kid yourself, your case presentation begins during the preclinical examination. The effective dentist is continually getting ideas across at all times. One idea that you want to get across is that you are there for the patient…it’s always about them. Remember that. In order to do that, use the rules of improvisational artists like Wayne Brady and Drew Carey, for example, come to the exam without an agenda, never negate your patient, always listen carefully and answer everything with “yes, and.” Future blog posts on this site will include all of the rules of improv and I will apply them specifically to dentistry…for now understand that improv rather than scripting is much more effective.

2. Stay positive. Your preclinical examination should contain positive statements of at least a 3:1 ratio to negative statements. This principle first described by Barbara Frederickson and Mario Losada in the book Positivity is a proven technique in building solid relationships. The “love doctor” John Gottman sites the same studies in his book The Science of Trust.

3. Live in the question. It has been said that that the one who asks the questions controls the conversation. Stay in the “ask” mode. Stop telling and start selling.

4. Be other focused. As written above…it’s always about them and never about you. This comes through very clearly during the preclinical examination…so always focus on your patient.

5. Become a great listener. There is no greater skill to develop than listening. Patients will always tell you what they are looking for in a dentist. Listen carefully.

Follow these five rules and you will build the trust necessary for a great long-term relationship…without that trust your practice will never thrive consistently.