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4 Steps to Persuasive Communication

Do you find sometimes that you are trying to communicate something important but the message is getting lost?

Perhaps you and a patient are overwhelmed with a large treatment plan and you feel like you’re talking in circles.

Perhaps you’re at a dental society meeting and you realize you tend to ramble on about issues rather than get to the point.

Well then this post is for you.  Let’s take a look at Persuasive Communication, which I’ll define as communication for the purpose of convincing an audience of your point of view on a single topic.

Let me be very clear: persuasion is not the same as manipulation.  Manipulation seeks to trick the audience into adopting your opinions through logical fallacies and lies.

For the purposes of this post, “audience” can be a single patient or several hundred people.

(1) Thank

The first part of great persuasion is recognizing your audience.  I like to publicly acknowledge a member of the audience for something they said or did.  in certain situations, you can also just thank the audience for the opportunity to speak.  Examples of opening lines include:

“That’s a really great question.”

“You really summarized that perfectly.”

“Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to let us chat.”

Thanking and recognizing the audience is more than a pleasant formality; it can also help calm down an agitated person.

“It sounds like you are frustrated with how long this procedure is taking.”

I always start with “It sounds like…” so I can paraphrase what the audience is saying.  Then I can show them that I am hearing what they are expressing.

When you’re upset with someone, there’s nothing more frustrating then feeling like that person won’t listen to you!

(2) State Objective

Plain and simple, present what you are looking to accomplish with your words.  This is the crucial part of the persuasion that helps guide the audience towards your goal.

“I’d like to get your support for this resolution.”

“I’d like to help us find a way to get you back to dental health.”

(3) Present Argument

When I say “argument” I don’t mean you should have a yelling match.  I mean “argument” as a philosophical term.  It’s time to give the person the reason why you believe what you believe.

“If you don’t see the periodontist, you”ll risk losing your teeth in the near future.”

“This membership drive event may be expensive, but we need to secure that our society thrives with new members and this is the way to do it.”

The best persuasion places your agenda in line with the audience’s interests.  If you know what your audience wants, you can link it together with what you want to accomplish.

Be careful to stay away from manipulation!  If your needs are totally unrelated to the audience’s interests, then perhaps you need to find another audience or reconsider what you’re trying to accomplish.

(4) Call to Action

Last but not least, leave your little speech on a high note.  If you can’t rally the audience to act, you may be leaving them to debate ad nauseum.  Inspire confidence!

“I know this treatment is going to look and feel great!

“So let’s vote ‘yes’ to this resolution and start getting our membership back on track!”


“Mrs. Jones, it sounds like you’re concerned about the financial aspect of your care.  I certainly understand, and I’d like to show you that this care is actually quite affordable.  First, delaying your necessary treatment will only lead to more costly and invasive procedures down the road.  Secondly, we have comfortable payment plans available to suit your budget.  So let’s not let finances get in the way of your health!


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