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How behavioral assessments can create a less stressful dental practice

June 10, 2022
Knowing personality and communication styles can make life in the office much easier, and can help staff relate to patients as well. Learn what it means to think DISC.

Effective communication is vital for establishing trust, but what happens when the communication style and needs of team members are not the same as yours? Behavior describes how we do what we do. It’s formed by both natural (inherent) factors and influences from our upbringing and life experiences. It has a tremendous impact on our relationships and our world.

DISC is the universal language of observable behavior, a self-assessment tool that breaks down personality traits into four styles: dominance, influence, compliance, and steadiness. D styles revolve around how someone responds to problems and challenges and how they exercise power. The I style involves people and contacts and how they interact and influence others. S styles mean pace and consistency and how one responds to change variation and pace. Finally, the C style is for procedures and constraints and how one responds to authority and the rules and procedures set by others.

Most people are a blend of these four styles and each style brings strengths and weaknesses. While there is no good or bad or right or wrong, when we understand our own behavioral style blend, we can recognize how others may perceive us in positive and negative ways.

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While our natural DISC style makes us unique, it is also adaptable. Adapting a style takes effort but can be used to your advantage. Becoming versed in the DISC language allows one to identify the four styles in others, providing the opportunity to alter behavior to fit needs and allowing for greater affinity.

Understanding DISC can also help identify an unhealthy environment that is not the right “fit” for a style, which requires a significant amount of adaptation and stress. An example of this may be choosing a career path that requires a very different style to achieve superior performance.  

How DISC assessments can benefit a dental practice

Create a positive team culture: According to the popular job site Indeed, business culture refers to the set of behavioral and procedural norms that can be observed in a company. These include policies, procedures, ethics, values, employee behaviors and attitudes, goals, and code of conduct. Having an outstanding company culture can positively impact your business, leading to lower staff turnover, more applicants, and an improved public image.1

DISC assessments coupled with debriefing help team members better understand their own behaviors and appreciate the unique qualities of those around them. This can identify why conflict occurs and how to adapt to avoid future stress.  

Have the right people in the right positions: All jobs require duties for which certain personality traits are more suited. Recognizing pace and communication requirements for positions in the practice can help guide the assignment of job duties. Are personality strengths being used to assign duties such as OSHA officer, treatment plan coordinator, and calling on past due accounts?

Create better case acceptance: Building a strong rapport with patients is fundamental for a practice to thrive, and good relationships require trust. Simply said, people buy from people they like. This is true whether you’re selling a tangible item or an idea. Recognizing DISC traits in patients allows you to modify your approaches and provide treatment and financial information in a style that fits patients’ needs.

Gain positive patient reviews and referrals: A 2013 study from the Wharton School of Business found that referred customers are on average between 16% to 24% more loyal, making word-of-mouth referrals a crucial aspect of marketing.2 Building authentic and trusted relationships with patients encourages them to share their experiences with others who seek a similar connection. In a world dominated by online information, positive patient reviews and posts on social media provide a very valuable and free advertising source.

Create personal awareness and acceptance: Exploring our own behavioral strengths and weaknesses can seem like a daunting task. It can be difficult to admit that others may form negative opinions due to observable traits that make us who we are. But just as we must extend grace and acceptance of others, we must provide the same for ourselves. We are all beautifully unique, yet we have an immeasurable power to harness our strengths and position ourselves on a trajectory toward success.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the June 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.


1. Guide to company culture. Indeed. September 15, 2021. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/guide-to-company-culture

2. Schmitt P, Skierra B, Van den Bulte C. Do referral programs increase profits? Faculty Wharton. 2013. https://faculty.wharton.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Schmitt_Skiera_VandenBulte_2013_Referrral_Programs_2.pdf

About the Author

Jill Meyer-Lippert, RDH

The dental career of Jill Meyer-Lippert, RDH, spans nearly 30 years in administrative and clinical roles. She is a 2014 Sunstar-Butler Award of Distinction recipient and provides communication and educational services for Custom Dental Solutions as their community relations manager. Meyer-Lippert holds certifications in TTI Success Insights, TTI Success Insights 12 Driving Forces, and TTI Success Insights Emotional Quotient. For more information about implementing DISC assessments into your practice with team debriefing, contact her at [email protected].

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