Build Patient Trust by Practicing With Authenticity
By Kelley Mulhern, DC
"Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet - thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing - consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust." – Lance Secretan
To extrapolate from the above quote, patients love health care providers they can trust. One way to earn the trust of your patients is by practicing with authenticity. What does that mean, exactly? An authentic person is one who is genuine and truthful in every interaction; one whose words and actions are congruent. Build your practice with authenticity and watch it flourish!
The concept of authenticity is critical in every aspect of practice including new-patient acquisition, daily visits, marketing and retention. Practicing with authenticity requires a clear understanding of who you are, what drives you and what you want your practice to be like. It also necessitates a clear understanding of who you are not, what kills your passion and what you don't want in your practice.
Who Are You? Understanding Your Authentic Self
In order to have alignment, consistency and congruency, you must understand some key elements of yourself – personally and professionally. Let's look at some questions you can use to gain a deeper understanding of your authentic self.
What are you most passionate about? Are you an avid golfer? A proud parent? Do you live to educate people about their health? Take some time to consider the top two or three things you feel life wouldn't be worth living without.
What values do you hold most dear? Values are the ethical and moral compasses that guide our actions and behaviors: honesty, freedom, integrity, responsibility, compassion, etc. Most people have a sense of what a specific value means to them, but it can be notoriously hard to articulate.
One Google search produced a document that had almost 400 value words listed! Find a smaller list to give you a place to start. Next, take the value words and put them into one of three categories: Extremely important to you, moderately important to you, rarely important to you. Once you have your three lists, go through the words in each to see if they have similar meanings (to you) and can be further condensed. When you're finished, you should have a list of 3-5 words that are your top guiding values.
What image and reputation do you want to present? How do you want to be perceived by your community? Do your values and actions support that image and reputation? If you want to be respected as a professional in your community, dress the part. Don't show up for a meeting or a day at the office in a tank top and cut-off shorts unless you want to be perceived as informal and relaxed. If you want to be known as the nutrition-guru in your area, but you constantly eat fast food, do you see how you may not live up to your reputation? If you want to focus on pediatric patients, make sure your office is childproof and kid-friendly.
What do you want out of your practice and your life? Do you want to make millions? Make a difference? Educate the masses about health and nutrition? Do you want one practice or multiple offices? Do you want to focus on a niche patient base or have a general practice? Do you love what you do and want to work seven days a week, or do you want to work less and travel more? Figure out what you want, and then takes steps toward it each day.
Bringing Authenticity to Your Practice: Three Suggestions
We've looked at a few simple questions you can ask to better understand yourself – and there are dozens more! Now we're going to shift gears and look at a few ways you can practice with authenticity:
Hopefully the above questions and strategies help you to be more authentic in your practice and your life. Remember that self-awareness isn't a one-time event, but rather a continuous journey of reflection and understanding. Infuse your practice with your genuine self and watch your satisfaction (and that of your patients) increase.
Dr. Kelley Mulhern (formerly Kelley Pendleton) is a chiropractor, healthcare marketing consultant, professional speaker, and the author of Community Connections! Relationship Marketing for Healthcare Professionals. For more information or to download free materials, please visit www.dr-kelley.com.