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Improving soft skills as the leader of your practice

Successfully running a dental practice requires you to be a skilled practitioner, savvy businessperson and an effective leader.

Some business management skills are technical, measurable, and learned using formulaic methodology. But what about soft skills? How can someone get better at communication, empathy or relationship building? In this post, we’ll provide some simple tips.

Be open to feedback

When improving soft skills, it’s not always clear whether you’re getting better or not, especially when you’re the boss and employees might not feel comfortable pushing back. If you want to find out how your team really feels about the way you interact with them, you need to ask, and keep an open mind regarding constructive criticism. If your staff is large, anonymous surveys can work, or you can ask more senior employees to answer on behalf of the office.

Communicate often

Becoming an effective communicator starts with doing it all the time. Most complaints about poor communicators aren’t talking about their communication style or technique, but instead that they don’t communicate enough. If you’re not great at communicating, start by doing it more often, using all media, including one-on-one conversations, presentations to the group, phone, email, and text.

Take genuine interest in your employees

Building positive professional relationships isn’t that different from forming personal friendships. You should engage in genuine conversations with your staff about their hobbies, family and interests and connect over shared experiences. If you’re struggling to achieve this in the work environment, consider hosting more after-work events where you feel more comfortable.

Empathy starts with listening

If you know you want to work on your empathy, start by letting others talk. Sometimes, simply listening is sufficient, as it shows you care enough about their situation to hear the other person out.

Observe others

One of the most effective strategies for improving any soft skill is to learn from your team. Whether it be problem solving, conflict resolution, creativity, motivation or mentoring, every day you come to work represents an opportunity to learn from your staff.