My very first post on The Curious Dentist was back in November of 2010 and was called, “How to Critique Your Employees (and Still Have Them Like You).” I introduced my version of a technique called the Compliment Sandwich. It’s the best way I know to tell someone that they did a bad job and need to do better.
Below is a short video interview I did for the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) about the Compliment Sandwich technique. I think it will be helpful to see how I do this in practice rather than just read about it.
I begin the example at 1:23. Note that the scenario I provide is for a dental student in an ASDA chapter who isn’t completing a task that was assigned to him. The lessons I discuss can easily apply to your front desk staff, assistant, hygienist, or any other member of your team.
When evaluating someone speaking live, you can pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues, that is, mannerisms and gestures that help the listener understand the meaning of my words. While watching my example, look for the following three verbal and non-verbal cues.
(1) Tone (verbal) : I speak in a calm and friendly tone. I vary my tones to convey a conversational demeanor. A common mistake is to be monotone, almost robot-like. If you sound like you’re reprimanding the person, you will be reprimanding the person.
(2) Facial Expressions (non-verbal): I smile. My eyes are relaxed. If you look too serious or even sad you will cast an awkward feeling over the encounter. Again, talk to this employee as if you were telling your friend a story.
(3) Eye Contact (non-verbal) : This can be a tough one. You have to strike a balance of looking at someone in the eyes and looking away. Too much eye contact and you seem intimidating. Too little and you seem distant and distracted.