Is The Language Being Used In Your Practice Driving Your Customers Away From Doing Business With You?

The language we use in our dental practice can often be “familiar” to us, but may be considered OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE by clients, customers or patients, who either do not know us, or do not speak THAT WAY, or are expecting something better or more professional.

Years ago, when I was in my own practice, I had reason to need to “borrow” some sundry dental supply material from a neighbouring dental practice that for some reason or other [don’t ask me HOW that happened] had we run out of in my dental office.

Anyway, I walked in my neighbour’s front door [his dental office was two doors down the road from my practice] and his dental receptionist was at standing their front desk but with her back facing me and the front door, investigating the contents of a drawer or cupboard below her eyeline .

When she finally turned around and stood up to face me and greet me, she did so, and enquired simply, using one word:


Yes. That was it.

That was her greeting.

That was the way she greeted me, and I assume, that is how she greeted anybody arriving at that practice who she did not know.


To be frank, it sounded like a noise you would expect a donkey to utter.

It was, to me, one of THE MOST offensive greetings I had ever heard or experienced, to this day.

It reminded me, back in the day, in the 1980s, when I was working as an associate dentist in Western Sydney, that a neighbouring medical practice used to answer their phones:


Or if you were lucky, you might get:

“Hello, surgery?”

with my use of the word “get” being [sadly] the exact way a caller was made to feel.

You see, even the word “get” is an offensive word that to me conjures up images of superiority and of submission.

“You’ll GET what you’re given”

was a phrase I knew only too well as a child [with the implication that the receiver should be grateful to have received anything at all].

In that example, the word “get” could easily be replaced by a more polite word, like:


In a similar vein, I’m hearing dental receptionists now say to patients, on the phone:

“I’ll just GRAB some details…”


“I just need to grab a few details from you…”

You see, in real life, the action of “grabbing” is an action of taking something forcibly when a gentler means would be more appropriate.

Sometimes things are “grabbed” when they shouldn’t be taken at all.

So the use of the word “grab” in our spoken communication is at best lazy, and at worst, offensive, when a gentler word could be used:

“Betty, I just need to ask you a few questions…”


“Betty, can I ask you a few questions please…”

are far more appropriate ways of saying the same thing in a more polite manner.

Think closely about the things that are being said to your valued clients, when they call or visit your dental practice.

The LAZY use of language by people employed in your practice to provide service could be affecting your practice profitability in a very negative way.

We’ve all heard someone describe an employee at a business they have visited as:

“She was SO RUDE!!”

Don’t let that be your dental practice that they are talking about.

Analyse every phrase and sentence used in your conversations and ask each other this:

Is what I just said THE VERY BEST USE of the English language, or could I have said the same thing in a nicer way?

Only complete this exercise if you want to improve YOUR dental practice [pun intended].


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