Coaching Corner

Using "The Four Agreements" To Strengthen Your Practice

In his best selling book, "The Four Agreements", Don Miguel Ruiz explains that many of the personal agreements we make to ourselves each day, such as making assumptions and self-criticizing, often diminish our self- worth and hinder our growth. However, he provides four simple yet effective agreements we can adopt to overcome these destructive thoughts and actions. These can certainly be applied in dentistry! Each day dentists face challenges that test their expertise and resolve. Accepting these four agreements as guiding principles in your practice will help you maintain a positive mind-set.

Samson Liu, DDS, MAGD

Vice President of Clinical Affairs at Heartland Dental Care and full-time practicing dentist at in Wildwood, Missouri

Since graduating dental school and the start of his career at Heartland Dental Care, Dr. Liu's practice has grown to a 12-chair office that averages $3 million in annual revenues.

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.

    Instead of speaking negatively about yourself or others, speak with truth, integrity and optimism. Say only what you truly mean and believe in what you're saying. When communicating with patients, being authentic and genuine with your caring message is far more effective than any sales pitch. It all starts with your personal belief. Do you truly embrace lifetime care for your patients? If you do, then let this passion come through in your voice and words. Patients will listen and they will respond.

  2. Don't Take Things Personally.

    Your actions rarely determine the actions of everyone else. What others do stems from their own mind-set and way of thinking; therefore, it's pointless to become personally distressed over the viewpoints of others. Make yourself invulnerable to the actions and opinions of those around you. Many times, patients are scared or simply don't understand certain aspects of their treatment, causing them to react negatively. As dentists, we tend to take this to heart and blame ourselves. However, you shouldn't take this negativity personally; if a patient is aggravated at the situation they are in, that doesn't mean you are the cause of their unhappiness. Provide your patients with proficient care in a considerate, understanding manner without taking their opinions and actions personally and you'll have nothing to worry about.

  3. Don't Make Assumptions.

    Ask detailed, thorough questions and communicate in a clear manner to avoid complications, misunderstandings and inaccuracies. Many common problems you face everyday in your practice can be avoided with this one simple agreement. When you are open, positive and mentally flexible, you're able to understand and relate to our patients better. The more you understand your patients, the easier it is to communicate with them. First, don't make financial assumptions about a patient's inability to pay for necessary treatment. Second, routinely use written consent forms before major procedures to avoid miscommunications and assumptions between your patient and your team.

  4. Always Do Your Best.

    This agreement sounds very simple, but it's quite effective nonetheless. If you stay at the top of your game no matter what the situation, you'll have no reason to feel regret, disappointment or unhappiness about your performance. It all starts the moment you walk in the door. Are you doing your best to be a leader at Morning Huddle? Are you on time? Are you staying positive for your team the entire day? Are you setting clear expectations for your team members to do their best every day? The answer should always be yes to these questions. It's never easy to be at the top of your game daily, but what helps me the most is staying focused in the moment and remembering WIN, "What's Important Now."

Although committing to these agreements each day sounds easy, it's a challenging task. Throughout your life, you've developed damaging beliefs and habits that can be tough to overcome. By employing Don Miguel Ruiz's four agreements, you can eliminate most of your mental obstacles and maximize your success personally and professionally.