There are so many benefits gained for dental practices from good soft skills, Alun Rees says.

‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’ – Theodore Roosevelt.

Research shows that soft skills are a far greater predictor of success in life than standard achievement tests, yet we continue to emphasise cognitive test results in choosing and training team members.

Collins Dictionary defines soft skills as: ‘Desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge; they include common sense, the ability to deal with people and a positive flexible attitude.’

I think we can include having social and communication abilities, and emotional intelligence in the dental team’s required abilities.

Hard skills

One problem of 21st century life is the preoccupation with counting everything and valuing little that cannot be measured.

One consequence is that it is easier to recruit on hard skills alone.

Take the potential associate who arrives with a portfolio of beautiful cases and plausible reasons explaining why they have worked in five practices in three years.

All too soon you discover they are excellent technically but lack that empathy essential for a successful practitioner.

Hard skills get you hired; poor soft skills can get you fired.

Soft skills keep the wheels of every organisation and business running smoothly.

They are vital for building team commitment and morale.

Selling treatments

Of course soft skills are anything but soft to acquire, develop and maintain.

This requires personal reflection, a desire to improve and frequently the help and support of others.

This presumes that the need for improvement is perceived by the individual, sadly not always the case.

Unfortunately, where success is measured in cases completed or turnover generated, the only emphasis that is placed by many on gaining soft skills is in order to be able to better ‘sell’ treatment to patients.

There are so many more benefits from soft skills for you, your team and your patients.


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