BY Nicky Denegri

DATE: 13 MAR 2015


Not many people can claim that their dentist is one of their best friends. I can, however; she was a friend from University and then became (and remains) the best dentist I’ve ever had.

I was there a couple of weeks ago, and noticed a number of certificates – 13 in total – on the wall of her treatment room. They relate to her original qualification as a dentist, her Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and her recent admission as a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).

I’d never seen these certificates before and said as much. She explained that she’d decided to put them on the wall because, whilst studying for admission to the RCS, she realised her mentor had exactly the same set of certificates as hers. However his were on the wall of his practice rooms and hers were in a drawer. Not for the first time, she was struck by how many of her female peers never publicise their achievements, whereas her male peers do so as a matter of course. She decided it was time to break that pattern. As she said, sometimes you’ve really got to show your patients the range of your expertise in ways that go beyond what they see in front of them.

Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy says that when we meet people for the first time we try to demonstrate that we are warm and trustworthy (because we want to persuade them that our intentions towards them are good). My dentist is incredibly likeable, firstly because that’s genuinely the person she is and secondly because she understands that you’re far less likely to be sued if you have a good bedside manner!

However Cuddy also says that people also need to know that we are strong and competent (because we want to persuade them that we are capable of enacting those intentions). All too often it’s tempting to go into a business development situation and concentrate on our agenda to the detriment of the other person’s, telling them too much up front about us and our experiences.

There comes a time when you need to do this, but you can also subtly semaphore this through – for example – how you display your qualifications; by looking the part (my dentist wears scrubs rather than a pair of shorts and a t-shirt) and even how you sound when you communicate what needs to be done, and why. In my dentist’s case that’s calm, clear and considerate – she knows that you don’t want to be baffled by technological jargon; that you won’t be impressed by it; that you’ll be turned off by it.

So it’s not an either/or situation - you need both to be successful. My dentist is not only a practising dentist, but the owner of a thriving practice with several other dentists and dental nurses in it. She has created a culture – heavily influenced by her own personal style – that means the often dreaded visit becomes something that’s actually very pleasant. Whilst the treatment process might be hard, you know it’s as good as you’ll get anywhere, and the level of service that surrounds it from her and her team is impeccable, as is the eventual outcome.

I’m running a few courses in the next week that have elements of influence in them; we build in the opportunity for people to craft – and practise – their “personal pitches”. Come the moment in “real life” when they have to do one they feel comfortable with talking about their experience, achievements and expertise. It’s not easy, but if you can’t do it for yourself, you can’t expect anyone to do it for you.


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about the author

Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.

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