As a chiropractor for 20 years I can tell you that chiropractic will never cease to amaze you and it will never get old.
Nevertheless, many new doctors sell themselves, their service and the profession short because of one simple mistake that most will make.
That mistake is becoming friends with patients.
Now don’t get me wrong. You need to be friendly… just not besties.
My 6 year old son will often say “dad you are my best friend.” I gently remind him that I am his dad and as his dad my responsibilities are much greater than that of his ‘best friend’ he will hopefully someday find.
My job is to be the authority figure he looks to for guidance so he learns how to make good decisions in school, career, health, solving problems, etc.
Your job with patients is to be the authority figure they look to – and trust – for guidance in improving the health and function of their spine.
The key term I want you to take from that sentence is ‘Authority Figure.’
By becoming friends with patients you gain acceptance but lose much of your authority.
This is an innocent but costly mistake that chiropractors make more than any other doctor. Why? I believe it is simply because of the frequency of visits. Seeing someone often breeds familiarity. Which is great as long as you don’t allow that to progress into friendship.
What you need to understand is that patients (whether they, or you, realize it or not) want you to advise them about their health… not tell them about you.
By transitioning from doctor to friend you will naturally begin to share more about yourself which is where it all goes wrong.
Some negative side effects are:
1. Longer visit times creating a growth barrier
2. Loss of authority in the eyes of the patient as they get too familiar with you
3. Accidental ‘oversharing’
4. The wrong focus resulting in lost ‘education opportunities’
The people you take care will naturally grow to like you just as you will them. However, make sure to keep the focus of all conversation on and about the patient.
I teach my staff that if you are starting a sentence with “I…” or any variation (“Well, I…” “One time I…” “Did you know I….”) then you are about to make the conversation about you. That is an easy mistake to make as you want to be courteous and friendly.
The good news is people would rather talk about themselves so follow these rules for a more successful visit and practice growth:
• Always keep it about the patient
• Always be educating
If a patient mentions the ballgame, be nice and courteous but truthfully that is wasted time spent. The vast majority don’t truly understand what we do. Every time your conversation focuses on something other than helping them better understand chiropractic and their spine and health, it was a less than perfect visit.
Strive for the perfect visit every time. Your practice growth depends on it.