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  • Writer's pictureSarah Beth Herman

Dental Leadership: Emotional Intelligence and Why it Matters.

Imagine you're a dentist (Maybe you are, lol), ready to provide top-notch care to your patients. But wait, your assistant just called in sick and the waiting room is packed with anxious patients. Emotions are running high, and it's up to you to bring the office back together and deliver excellent dental care. That's where emotional intelligence comes in! By developing your emotional intelligence skills, you can become the ultimate leader of emotional regulation, keeping your cool under pressure and bringing out the best in your team. In this free training, we're going to show you how to apply the principles of emotional intelligence to your dental office, so you can lead your team to provide compassionate care and ease anxiety for your patients. So, grab your dental tools, and let's get ready to apply some emotional intelligence to your practice!

"Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the "success" in our lives." - Dr. Travis Bradberry and Dr. Jean Greaves, "Emotional Intelligence 2.0"

As a leader in your dental office, you're not only responsible for providing the best employee experience and growing a business but also for leading your team to provide compassionate care and create a positive experience for your patients. Developing your emotional intelligence skills is key to achieving this goal, and here are three ways you can display emotional intelligence in your dental office:

  1. Practice Self-Awareness: Before you can effectively manage your own emotions and those of others, it's important to be aware of your own emotions and triggers. Take time to reflect on how you feel in certain situations and identify what helps you stay calm and focused. This could involve taking deep breaths, going for a quick walk, or using positive self-talk. It might sound odd to identify what helps you stay calm and focused but the reality is if you do not know this, you won't be able to regulate intense situations.

  2. Build Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. In a dental office, patients may experience anxiety or fear, your staff may experience an overload of requests and it becomes stressful. It's important to put yourself in their shoes and show empathy toward their concerns. You can accomplish this by actively listening to your patients, and team members acknowledging their feelings, and offering reassurance and support. If your personality type is less on the feeling side of things I would encourage you to step out of your comfort zone for one day and challenge yourself to try this approach and see how your team responds. This is definitely a servant leadership mindset.

  3. Communicate Effectively: Effective communication is crucial to creating a positive workplace culture and providing exceptional patient care. Practice clear and concise communication with your team, and make sure everyone is on the same page. When interacting with patients, use simple and jargon-free language, and provide clear explanations of any procedures or treatments. Your patients will appreciate you articulating treatment in a way they can understand.

"It is not the smartest people who are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. There are many very bright, intellectually gifted people who are hapless and unsuccessful. What differentiates them is emotional intelligence." - Daniel Goleman, "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ"

But how can you ensure you're consistently practicing emotional intelligence and improving your skills? Here are a few actionable ways you can check in on your own emotional intelligence:

1.Conduct Regular Self-Reflection: Take time at the end of each day to reflect on how you handled various situations and interactions with your team and patients. Ask yourself if there were any moments where you could have been more self-aware, empathetic, or communicated more effectively.

2.Seek Feedback: Ask your team members for feedback on how you're doing as a leader. Encourage open and honest communication, and be receptive to constructive criticism. Use this feedback to identify areas where you can improve and continue to develop your emotional intelligence skills.

3.Attend Training or Workshops: There are a variety of workshops and training opportunities available to help you develop your emotional intelligence skills. Consider attending one of these events to learn new strategies and techniques for practicing emotional intelligence in the workplace.

By consistently practicing self-reflection, seeking feedback, and attending training or workshops, you can continue to develop and improve your emotional intelligence skills as a dental leader. With time and practice, you'll be able to create a more positive and caring environment for your team and patients, ultimately leading to greater success and fulfillment in your role as a dental leader.

"The emotional competencies that distinguish star performers from the rest of the pack are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill." - Daniel Goleman, "Working with Emotional Intelligence"

I encourage you to utilize some of the resources listed as a point of reference while you learn more about your emotional intelligence and techniques to help you continue to gain confidence in this area of your life.


Dentistry Support ® provides remote support for dental offices nationwide. We serve the needs of any size dental office including those with Spanish-speaking needs on both the east and west coasts of the United States of America. Learn more.


To learn more about Sarah Beth Herman, the author of all free training content you can read her bio here. These materials are intended to provide helpful information to dentists and dental team members. They are in no way a substitute for actual professional advice based on your unique facts and circumstances. This content is not intended or offered, nor should it be taken, as legal or other professional advice. You should always consult with your own professional advisors (e.g. attorney, accountant, or insurance carrier). To the extent, Dentistry Support ®has included links to any third-party website (s), Dentistry Support ® intends no endorsement of their content and implies no affiliation with the organizations that provide their content. Further, Dentistry Support ® makes no representations or warranties about the information provided on those sites. You can view our privacy policy and terms and conditions by clicking those pages in the footer of our website.

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