How to Win at Life and Succeed in Dentistry – Emotional Intelligence – PDP034

If there is one piece of content I produce in my LIFE which I think MAY have a massive impact on your life – it might not get much bigger than this one right here!

I will put the video up shortly, but you can catch it on Facebook premiere tonight at 8pm on Protrusive Dental Podcast Facebook Page. Video:

Do your grades at dental school influence your success as a Dentist?
Is your IQ important?

I would be surprised if any of you answered ‘yes’ for these questions.

So what do Richard Porter and I believe is the most important predictor of success in your life, relationships and work?

Two words: Emotional Intelligence.

Find a quiet place, close your eyes* and take a dive in to the world of Emotional Intelligence as applied to Dentistry:

*not while driving!!

Need to Read it? Check out the Full Episode Transcript below!

We discuss:

  • How important is luck in your life and career
  • What is emotional intelligence and what tangible examples can Richard provide relevant to Dentistry?
  • Why does high emotional intelligence mean more ‘successful’ and even higher earning Dentists?
  • Are you born with Emotional Intelligence, or can you improve your EQ?
  • Why is Emotional Intelligence important for Dentists, Dental Therapists and the entire dental team?
  • How can you find out your level of EI? Richard suggested The Big 5 Ocean Assessment – such as understandmyself.com

Resources as promised:

Harvard Happiness Study
Dunedin study

Learn with Richard Porter and Aspire

If you liked this episode, you will love 12 Rules for Dentistry

Click below for full episode transcript:

Episode Teaser: Obviously, the nirvana. Is if you have high EQ and you can use your hands and you can use your brain, your cognitive part of your brain, and you can deploy all three. And that really is like the triple threat weapon of the truly successful dentist.

Jaz’s Introduction:
Throughout my career so far, I’ve really tried to stand on the shoulders of giants. And I’ve tried to learn from my mentors, learn from people who’ve got significantly more experience and people and dentists who are successful, quote unquote successful. Now. What does it actually mean? And what did it actually say?

Well, we’ll get to what that means a bit later, but all these dentists, when I asked what makes a great dentist, they all say the following things. They say empathy. They say communication skills. They say soft skills. They say the ability to explain to patients in a way that they can understand it.

And the ability to build fantastic rapport with your patients and all these sorts of things, basically. So it’s very much the soft skills. Now, if I was to summarize all these things in two words, It would be emotional intelligence. And that’s what this episode is all about. We’re going to talk about how to be successful, not only in dentistry, but in life.

Because I think what I truly believe from reading more and more and more and listening to people is that it’s emotional intelligence, which is actually far more important than your IQ. So I’ve got someone awesome to talk on this topic with me today is Dr. Richard Porter, who so many of you asked to come on the podcast back when there’s some episodes.

I asked who you guys wanted to come on the podcast. And so many of you had messaged me on Instagram to say you wanted Dr. Richard Porter. So we’ve got Dr. Richard Porter on today and I won’t take too much of your time.

Protrusive Dental Pearl
I’m going to give you the Protrusive Dental Pearl and we’ll go straight to what hopefully will be a really impactful and dare I say life changing episode for you. The Protrusive Dental Pearl I have for you is a lesson that I learned as a dental student and recently speaking to someone who’s recently qualified has resurfaced as like a lesson that I’ve sort of almost rekindled with in a way. So, it’s a lesson I learned as a dental student.

I was there. Treating a lower premolar as a DEM student and that you know how every stage you you get it checked by your tutor. Now my tutor was Dr. Abz El Mougi who’s now I think he’s a restorative specialist by now. Actually his story is quite cool. He did 11 years as a GDP I’m hope I’m getting this right Abs.

He did 11 years at GDP and then he applied for his specialist registrar training in restorative dentistry and you got the place and while I was doing my DCT in Sheffield, he was then a registrar in restorative dentistry. But anyway in his days as a tutor on the restorative dentistry sort of floor as we’re like fourth year students I was treating this heavily carious lower premolar and typically students and young dentists, the mistake that we’d make is that we spend too much in caries removal.

Like, it should be a fast thing. We should be very precise. We should know where our foot pedal is. We should know where we should have good hand piece control. And we should be able to remove caries quite quickly now. But as a student, definitely at that point, it was like you remove a bit.

And then you reflect and you think, oh, should I remove some more? should I do a little bit more here? Should I stop and show my tutor? And then of course you got away about half an hour until the tutor comes around. Right. Anyway. So I have this tooth, which is heavily carious and there I am removing caries and every sort of few minutes I’d show Dr. Omugi, like Dr. Omugi, have I removed enough caries? Have I done enough here? And really at the end of that session, once I placed my restoration and it turns out that tooth needed a root canal and it needs to be done by a specialist because it had a split inside. So some lower premolars, they have a split inside the canal.

So really it’s in the realm of specialists, especially at that point. So, it was referred to the specialist unit, but the feedback that I got was amazing. The feedback that I got from Dr. El Mugui, which I’ll never forget is don’t be shy with a tooth of poor prognosis. So that’s don’t be shy with a tooth of poor prognosis.

And it’s exactly the conversation I was having with a colleague who listens to podcasts, Neil. Hi, Neil. I hope you’re listening. And I hope you don’t mind me mentioning. I won’t mention your surname. And Neil will send me a case of an upper central incisor, which was pretty much kaput. Like it was a trauma case.

The palatal fragment was loose. It was completely unrestorable, right? And he was telling me like, what should I do? Should I refer it for a specialist? Should I try and do the endo while we sort of bury it? As we sort of came to conclusion and I borrowed some knowledge from Dr. Robertetti, implant dentist, about how we should handle this situation.

And what we went for was to do a root canal. Bury the tooth because she’s 20, she’s a little bit on the young side for an implant and get five years or so from a Resin Bonded Bridge. So we talked about doing an immediate Resin Bonded Bridge, right? But that tooth was a tooth of poor prognosis, hopeless prognosis.

And the lesson I wanted to pass on to him was exactly what I learned from Dr. Abzel Mugi. And that is, don’t be shy with a tooth of poor prognosis. I mean, what can go wrong? The tooth is kaput already. So, I told him, look, do the root canal, explain to the patient that The tooth is hopeless. And the secondary lesson from that is something I’ve mentioned before on many episodes.

Never make the patient’s problem your problem, right? Sometimes we stress more. And we take that sort of burden and anxiety on us. But really, the problem is very unfortunately due to trauma, the patient’s problem, and you can dissociate yourself from it and become someone who’s there to help them. So the main pearl here is don’t be shy with a tooth of poor prognosis.

Tell your patient if a tooth is very poor or hopeless prognosis and just go for it. Don’t be shy with a tooth of poor prognosis. So I hope you enjoy that and really excited to sort of present this episode to you about emotional intelligence, how to succeed. I’ve given it quite an ambitious title because really I do believe this is the most important thing in your career and in your life. So let’s join Dr. Richard Porter to learn all about emotional intelligence.

Richard Porter, thank you so much for coming on the Protrusive Dental Podcast. It’s an absolute honor to have you on.

[Richard] That’s very kind of you, my man. An honor I don’t deserve, but it’s great.

[Jaz] No, no, 100 percent do. In my journey so far, I don’t, like I said, I don’t know how much of the podcast you’ve tuned into before in terms of my story and my background, but certainly you were a huge, and you still are of course, a massive inspiration to me in my journey.

From about third BDS, when I started reading some of your literature, then your blogs, then I used to follow your Twitter account and I saw you set up a spire and I was so close to actually joining a spire. But because at the time in my journey, I was doing other things. Like I was doing a dental core training post in restorative. So I wasn’t in the right place for that, but certainly it’s absolutely amazing that I have you on today.

[Richard] Well, it’s very kind of you, mate. That’s very kind. And everyone comes to their learning stage when it’s the right time for them. So, yeah, well, that’s very, very kind. And I’m glad I’ve played some small role in the great things you’re doing.

[Jaz] Massive role. And I’m not just saying that it’s been great. And a lot of people when I ran about episode seven or eight, I started to say to the listeners, who do you want on the podcast next? Literally, I can, I have to stroll through all my messages and a number of people that said, we want Richard Porter. We want Richard Porter. So it’s all these people.

[Richard] All my extended family for pretending to be dentists and putting those numbers.

[Jaz] That’s no word of lie. Honestly, lots of people wanted you on and I can see why. I mean, the first time I saw you speak live was you were doing and you won’t remember this at all. I think you were just starting up aspire at the time and you were doing a lecture about occlusion. And I don’t know where it was. I feel like it was Watford or something like that. It was somewhere in London. It was one of those section 63 type BVA.

[Richard] You remember up in North London?

[Jaz] Yeah, I think it might have been. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[Richard] It was in a hotel.

[Jaz] Yeah. Okay. There we are. Then that was many years ago now. And I remember you seeing you speak first time there and your charisma was just amazing. Your energy as a speaker, as an educator was amazing. So the topic we’re going to speak about today goes very much hand in hand in that.

And that’s emotional intelligence applied to dentistry. So before we get into that, I’ve done a little mini intro about how much of an inspiration you’ve been to me, but just tell the people out there watching, listening a little bit about yourself.

[Richard] Okay well, I sort of fell into dentistry as like a, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. And like a lot of people, I was influenced by my parents and it’s a bit cliche, but you’re given the choice by your parents of whatever you could be. And it was dentistry or medicine, and maybe pharmacy or something like that. And so I rebelled as much as you could. I fell into dentistry.

I found it interesting academically at first. And then I got really despondent through dental school. I found it, it was almost like a hazing initiation, and that it was, I didn’t find it inspiring. I didn’t find my teachers inspiring and I didn’t have a sense of purpose. I recognized I was good to patients.

And I say that with, I say all of this with due humility. I really do mean that, but I recognize it’s good with patients. But I was at guys and when you’re at guys at the time you were told, you’re a guy’s boy. Don’t worry about it. The world’s your oyster now. And I got into practice and I had not a Tory time, but I felt like a fraud, total fraud.

So I went back and just thought, well, why would anyone ever come and see me for dentistry if I’m not the best person in that town or wherever I was? So I did a lot of additional training and I was blessed. I genuinely. Luck played a big role in it that I met the right people at the right time, where I got loads and loads of hands on training, and I became a consultant at Restorative Dentistry and I was lucky that I got on a few specialist lists.

And then I wanted to start plugging some of the gaps I saw, perhaps the ones I experienced and started doing lots and lots and lots of teaching. And that’s what I spent a lot of my time now doing. And I find the more we can understand each other’s minds, the more productive I can make that teaching.

[Jaz] Amazing.

[Richard] So that’s what we are.

[Jaz] Yeah. Brilliant. Well, two things I want to pick on your journey, on your story, on your background. One is that I’d read on a blog post you wrote once, very vividly, and it just shows how much I look up to you. I was reading about this judo champion or thereabouts that used to treat or karate champion, and then you did a molarendo or something like that, and then he had to pay it and how bad you felt. And that was a spark in your career.

[Richard] It was a massive spark actually. He was a really nice guy. And I mean, this is a genuine story and this is Jaz. I’m a bit older than you. So, if you look at the UFC now, it’s weight regulated and there’s lots of safety. And when it first started it was far less so.

So someone who weighs 50 kilos might be fighting someone who’s 120 kilos. And these guys were just getting the octagon and do whatever the hell they wanted to each other. And nobody knew what the best form of martial arts was, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with some striking seems to win it now. But at the time, nobody, and this guy was the British champion.

And I exposed on his lower right six carious exposure cause he had decay. And he was a lovely gentle man, thank God. And I started doing endo on it and you’re a guy’s boy. You’ll be able to do endo and I was, but by any definition, I hope it against trouble for saying this. I was incompetent.

I was incompetent. And a week later he was in the John Radcliffe hospital with a big fat face and he had to pull out of the tournament, the UFC tournament that he qualified as the only British contestant. And that was his big chance. He was at the top of his game and my lack of competence led to his perhaps stifling of his career even, I don’t know.

And that for me is, is something I’ll never forget. So why would someone come see me for dentistry if that’s what I’ve got to offer and that was, I was either going to get good or get out. It was, you know, there was nothing in the middle. So that’s really sparked me on.

[Jaz] Well, I hope you don’t mind that I mentioned this because that story, just reading that story as I don’t know if I was a student or in DF at the time, just reading that story was really a breath of fresh air, that someone is so kind to share a failure in that way.

And to from that failure, something good came out of it. It became a driving force in your career. So just for those young dentists out there who weren’t familiar with that aspect of your story, that’s why I wanted to mention it ’cause it inspired me so much and I’m sure people out there will, will think wow, one adverse event and how it led to something good.

[Richard] Which, you know, Jaz and I think it’s a little legacy, which I hadn’t thought about till you bring it up. But the most, we do try and assess our educational delivery. Like, you know, there’s all well and good us. Me and Raheel, who I work with, thinking when we teach that it’s all going well, but you have to assess it, or get someone to objectively assess it. And the videos we show of clinical procedures, the best ones that people get the most out of is when we cock it all up.

So, me putting on some veneers years ago and the etch goes everywhere and you’re struggling with the rubber dam control and you’d split the teeth together, I’d actually seeing those mistakes and talking them through and how you overcome them is more educationally valid than anything else.

If you just watch a perfect procedure, you don’t see where the flaws are. There’s this famous quote, which no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. So if you learn a procedure, A, B, C, all the way up to Z, as soon as you deploy on a patient there are subsets, there’s nuance and things you haven’t thought of.

And so seeing those things that other people haven’t thought of, I think is educationally valid. So we’ll probably remain eternal students for the rest of our lives, hopefully.

[Jaz] Absolutely. And the other thing I want to pick from your story was you mentioned luck in being a factor. Now let’s just touch on that. How much of that do you actually believe? Cause I’ve got two belief systems when it comes to luck. So, because when you look at like Malcolm Gladwell’s work on circumstances and that sort of stuff, but then also there’s the harder I work, the luckier I get. So tell us about, because people who listen to this podcast are very much into where do I go next in my career?

And same to people who, listen, read your fantastic blogs that you write. They’re very much thinking in that where to take the, how to get a fulfillment from my career. So you, when you mentioned luck, can you just tell us what you believe? The role of luck is.

[Richard] Yeah. Yeah, I can. I mean, it’s quite a big subject. We could talk all day just about that. So I broadly speaking from a neuroscience point of view and an emotional intelligence point of view and a sort of life goal point you luck probably about a third of everything that happens to you. Now you talk about the harder I work, the more luck I have, the harder you work is a choice.

So choices you make are another third. So we have natural abilities and things like that and our emotional intelligence, but then you have choices and you have love and you’re lucky to be born. For example, if you’re born in the UK, you’re incredibly lucky. If you’re born in the UK with good health and with parents who demonstrate that you are loved.

If you look at the longest running scientific study in the history of humanity is the Harvard Happiness Study, which is now, coming up for its centenary. It’s just unbelievably important study that started in the States and cross matched different groups of guys and follow them up for years and years and watch what happened to them.

And for them, the, one of the biggest rate determining steps was that they believed they were loved by their parents. So if you were born with parents who demonstrate they love you. It’s unbelievably lucky. That’s unbelievably good news for you. And so I had that, you know, I had a wonderful childhood.

We also know now that you and I sitting here, maybe we’ll squeeze into each other’s frame here, but you’re the sum total of the five people who influence you the most and you spend the most time with. And when I was coming to the latter part of my undergraduate career, had some people around me, two or three people in particular who I hadn’t anticipated. would be so inspirational, but they were. And these are dentists who are now GDPs. They’re still friends of mine. But no one’s ever heard of them, but they have got it going on and they’re just super smart and were courageous enough to say, Rich, look, you’ve got some abilities here.

Why the hell are you doing that? Correct my flaws. Hopefully I could do the same back to them. And I was lucky. And I look back at that and I think that’s just luck. You know, they weren’t there. They’d be born two months later in a different year or something. I wouldn’t have come across them. Who knows? So I think that that’s a big part of it. And I’m grateful.

[Jaz] Yeah, and I love these sort of stories and I’m very much subscribed and I agree with you that I did a webinar for for the deanery in, I forget which, it was a Wessex deanery and I called it the butterfly effect because I do believe when you were born and to whom you’re born with and then the small decisions you make early on and how it can have vast changes in your career trajectory later on, but none more so and none as big as the whole theme of emotional intelligence.

[Richard] Yeah. Well but that does start before you’re four years old, so a lot of your social networking as an adult is influenced by years not to fall. And so parents have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. But you’re right in emotional intelligence is, it’s a relatively new area of science.

I guess we’d call it science with a rapidly evolving body of work. It really is huge. It’s, you almost get a bit of FOMO cause it’s almost impossible to keep up with stuff as it comes out. But nevertheless, it’s fascinating. We introduced that into our syllabus, just because as you already know, I believe it is as important as anything else in dentistry. And I think dentists are frontline.

[Jaz] Brilliant. Well, before we just touch on, I’m going to ask you very straight up, what is emotional intelligence? Before I do that, you just touched on something that’s, again, very interesting about how between age four and how it is so important in our development to have emotional intelligence.

And we can see evidence of that from an early age. I don’t know. I can’t quote which study it was, but from a lot, a lot of stuff that I read in this sort of flavor, your personality at age three, and then your personality, it was either age 18 or 21. Like, it’s amazing. The correlation that you, that those two have.

[Richard] Well, particularly, particularly I mean, this will make a lot more sense when we get into talk about EI, but it’s particularly your social network. So, my area of interest now, and probably will be the rest of my career is, is the neuroscience, like which bits of your brain give you what, and how can we influence our own brains and what can we do with it?

And we know we can do that. But if you think of a a two year old, the terrible twos is called the terrible twos for a reason. Two year olds behave almost psychotically, my two year old kids would hit their mum without fear of consequence. And they’re just testing everything because they haven’t learned, they haven’t had any neuroplasticity, but at four they hopefully don’t because they’ve had that nurturing experience and learn where their barriers are.

And that will often, that really does translate through your teenage years. And we’re really still neuroplastic at that stage. That said, when you get to adulthood, you can develop, you can develop your personality. And it’s really important. And if we’re going to mention that at this stage, that we’re clear that this isn’t a threat.

It is not a threat to who you are. It’s not a threat to your sense of being or your sense of identity. It is just you upgrading the version of you that you are. And I guess when you’re an adult, it becomes the responsibility of you because your parents probably can’t help you anymore. Maybe they can, but it’s certainly the crown is on your shoulder, the weight is on your shoulders.

[Jaz] Brilliant. Well, I couldn’t help just mentioned some of the studies I had read about that. So if you just dive in now, what is emotional intelligence, Richard, and why is it so important?

[Richard] I don’t want to go on all day and bore you too much, Jaz, on what it is. But there’s, so, you know, there’s a scientific way of describing it.

And then there is probably a more nuanced and almost dental way of describing it. So, if you were to look at what the scientists say, it starts with self awareness. So I’m feeling perhaps slightly anxious and coming onto a podcast, having a chat with someone. I don’t know how many people are watching me, but I experienced those emotions and I’m aware of it.

And I’m aware of kind of what I’m like, and I think about that. And then I have self regulation. So let’s say you would say something that upsets me, I can experience those emotions. So that’s absolutely fine, but it’s then what I do with those emotions. So that’s self regulation. And the third part to it is social awareness.

So that means if I upset you, have I recognized that? Am I aware of it? And then the fourth part, the final part is social relationships. So those are the four sort of scientific bits to it. I tend to think of it in dental terms, and perhaps more social terms in that we now know there’s a great researcher in this area, a guy called Daniel Goldman who wrote one of the first books on this.

It’s quite heavy reading, but the bottom line is when two people, even like right now, buddy, when two people interact, so you and your patient, you and your nurse, you with a group of 10, your teaching, whatever, when you interact, there is an exchange of energy and that exchange of energy. you could call one Jaz.

So you’re teaching 10 people and you give them one unit of Jaz and that to them, depending on your emotional intelligence would feel, let’s say I’m one of those delegates, like one and a half Richard Porter. So I’ve walked in with plateau Richard Porter sitting at baseline zero. And now, because of the way you taught me, because of the way you interact with me, I’ve got one and a half.

You could have been teaching me about potatoes. I love you for that energy. I have more energy than I have. And if you have high emotional intelligence, which you do by the way, then you will find it easy to deploy. that energy into me. Now, if you change that situation, so let’s say you wanted to take my energy, you’d also have that agency, you’d have enough utility to do that as well.

And so whenever you have that situation, if two people have a high energy exchange rate, so let’s say I talk to you. And when I talk with one Richard Porter, you’re going to love me because we give net positive. And for the people out there listening, when you look forward to seeing someone, when you think, Oh, I’m seeing Jaz at the weekend, I can’t wait because you’re just going to be yourself authentically and give each other energy.

So when you leave and you just like each other and you try and reschedule appointments, when you and I go through our day list, I hope we’re allowed to be unprofessional slightly. And you look at that name of that patient and you think, Oh my God, it’s really about the dentistry.

It is normally that you think I have to put so much emotional energy into this patient. They give me nothing back. So they leave positive. They just suck it all out. And your exchange rate might be awful. Like you give them a hundred And they act like you’ve given them one and a half and they give you nothing back and you’re exhausted.

So emotional energy is a real thing. It’s like physical energy or mental energy. It’s a real thing. And we exchange it all the time with people we meet and having high emotional intelligence gives you power to give a tiny bit if you need to, but it feels like a lot to other people. And that’s what’s important for dentists.

That’s what we train them to do is that they can have, see a really difficult patient and you have to give energy because as dentists, we have to give energy to every single patient. But when we do that, it doesn’t cost us too much and they leave feeling positive.

[Jaz] I’ve never heard of it in terms of this numbers exchange and I can really, it’s a great analogy. It’s a great way to explain it. I think it’s fantastic. The other way I like to think of it, this area of emotional intelligence is knowing, and maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ve crossed my wires here and you can tell me, I think, I feel like you are definitely more read up on this than I am, but it’s knowing what to say, when to say it, to whom to say it, how to say it and making sure it comes all out effectively. Is that a suitable definition?

[Richard] Yeah, you’re a long way down the line there. But you’re 100 percent correct. That’s definitely part of the process. So if you can develop enough emotional intelligence, that means that almost no matter what comes at you, because we do face hostility and the dental environment is a crucible.

It’s a real crucible for emotional intelligence. but that means that if you have high emotional intelligence, when positives or negatives come at you, you can contextually, contextually respond authentically. And that means that you do know what to say in the right tone of voice. And you almost know what to say before the patient’s even said anything.

So emotional intelligence is a spectrum and there is a condition for people who have almost absolutely none. And I will try and pronounce it, it’s Alexia and those people have have almost none. So they are unaware of other people’s emotions. And you know, I have colleagues who I work with and they say, how did you know to say that?

This isn’t trying to be irritating. It might sound irritating, but I expect you’ll get where I come from. If you have a great deal of social awareness, you can feel other people’s emotions, like I can feel the sun on my skin. It’s just there. And that means you can contextualize your response and you know how to respond.

So that’s one end of the spectrum, right at the very end of the spectrum is, well, we don’t know, we don’t know where it ends because that path of self development is never ending, but we know the guy that took it furthest. And it’s again, if people ever want to look this guy up, a guy called Milton Erickson, who was bedridden with polio as a teenager and expected to not survive, many, many years ago.

And he was essentially, cast into unbidden seven years of bedridden study. And his family had a big family, a loving mom and dad and seven sisters. And they just socially interacted with every magical, beautiful facet of their lives in front of him as if he wasn’t there. And all he did was watch and study and watch and study.

And he never fully recovered from his polio. But when he did recover enough to become a teacher and was, he always walked with an aid, but what his emotional intelligence was like, no one, no stories about what he was capable of. Which you can look up there that scientifically published are staggering. And I don’t think any of us to get there because we can’t do seven year study in a bed.

[Jaz] Yeah, I definitely will look that up. Absolutely. That’s great. And so why is emotional intelligence more important than so emotional intelligence, if you were to give it a measure to an individual, a bit like IQ, I believe they call it EQ, emotional quotient. So, how important is IQ to you and how important is EQ?

[Richard] So I mean IQ, IQ is obviously vitally important and you don’t get into to you know STEM fields and and the type of studies that we all have to do without a reasonable working IQ. And IQ has been shown again, typically to be one of the biggest mobilizing factors if you come from any disadvantaged background, your IQ is a huge feather in your boat, you definitely want high IQ.

EQ goes almost hand in hand with it, so I’m not convinced it’s more important. I think we probably all know anecdotally, particularly dentists who are really, really good at talking with patients. Patients adore them and they get away with doing, if I’m allowed to say it, if they wish, poor quality dentistry.

And certainly I know many situations like that. Obviously the nirvana is you have high EQ and you can use your hands and you can use your brain, your cognitive part of your brain, and you can deploy all three. And that really is like the triple threat weapon of a truly successful dentist. The converse of it is I know dentists who super, super bright, PhD level bright, can think through any problem, analyze problems absolutely beautifully, but just really struggle with face to face relationships.

If you don’t mind me expanding Jaz, just for a second, just because there’s a great example in that, in the middle of COVID, I was looking at one of the Royal college webinars and they had a hero of mine, Henry Marsh, who’s a St. George’s hospital, like me, a St. George’s hospital, retired neurosurgeon, very famous guy and a couple of great books.

And he was talking about consent and he said, how can I consent someone to on the nuance of neurosurgically resecting a glioblastoma from a part of their brain. He said, you can’t, you need to have his knowledge.

He said. So it took him perhaps 30 or 40 years, but consent came down to the person sitting opposite him, saying, do I trust this guy? Do I trust him? And trust comes from your emotional intelligence. Particularly for dentists. We now know that you are judged within the first 15 seconds. And actually those first impressions of how you behave there are two things we know patients are looking for.

Warmth and competence. It’s just those two. Those are the two things. Warmth and competence, and that comes from great research in Harvard. And as dentists, that, you know, the warmth side of it, certainly your competence might be your certificates on the wall, or it might be pictures of your stained composites all over social media or whatever it is, or your Instagram feed, but your warmth is your emotional intelligence.

And so it’s at least 50 percent is at least 50% and it gives you ability to succeed with people and by succeeding with people. I don’t mean coercing them or influencing them into anything that you want, not following your own desires. But if you think of how people interact as a relationship, so you and I a few weeks ago were relative strangers, and there’s no doubt that relationship has upgraded, and perhaps it will even more.

And then you get into the point where I would describe the Nirvana of that as a relationship. Now, ideally, that takes a little while to do, and you spend more time with people. Dentists, you’ve got to get that trust on board sharp and the patient’s already anxious when they walk in, and they’re already judging you.

So getting that across, we know for dentists, higher emotional intelligence equals higher income. Less stress, less litigation, that’s overwhelmingly demonstrable. Patients don’t sue dentists they like, they just don’t do it. Even if you muck things up, they don’t sue dentists they like. They sue dentists they feel emotionally betrayed by or emotionally let down by. So I can’t give it enough emphasis.

[Jaz] Well, then leading on from that, the people who are listening and watching right now, they’re thinking, okay, so emotional intelligence is incredibly important in what we do day in, day out. Can we, so for example, to improve one’s IQ, there’s theories about that, but let’s talk about the EQ or the emotional intelligence.

Are you, is this something that you’re born with and that’s it? Or can you actually work to improve it? And if so, if I’m a dentist listening to this right now, and I’ve, and I’m listening, I think actually, you know what, I could probably be a better communicator. I could probably come across as showing more warmth to my patients. How do I improve my emotional intelligence?

[Richard] Yeah. It’s such a good question. I love that question. I don’t have a simple answer, but I will try and get into as much facet of that as I possibly can. So you are born the way you’re born, but then we have the nature versus nurture argument, and you become the person you become and you are then set with your personality, and that’s who you are.

And your personality may well lend itself, let’s say you have very no emotional intelligence, then sitting and working in a silent library might be perfectly good for you. And there’s nothing wrong with that, if you’re allowed to not interact with people. And if you feel comfortable doing that you can, if you’re required, or you’ve been silly enough to go into dentistry, you are almost required for your own well being to enhance your emotional intelligence.

So to get it better, first of all, everyone can get it better. And no matter how good people think you are or not, there’s room for improvement on everyone. So we’re all on that, that pathway, and we can all have joint humility with that. The difficulty with it that I’ve experienced which is pretty well documented by other people involved in the area, is it is just like physical training.

So if you sitting there now said, right, I have to put on 20 kilos of lean muscle mass, you’re going to feel some pain. And with emotional intelligence, you’re going to feel pain as well. The difference is, well, it’s not a difference, I suppose it’s the same. You choose to go to the gym and inflict the pain on yourself.

You choose to do the reps with emotion intelligence, you have to invite it in as well. It can’t be taught to you unbidden. So this is the thing that blows my mind every time I say it. So it’s going to blow my mind again there. But if you can choose to stress yourself with something emotional intelligence, so let’s use an example.

Let’s say we have someone who says, I really don’t like public speaking, even to the point that practice meetings, I’m not getting my message across and I’m scared of speaking. And I have a quiet word with a principal when there are no witnesses or anyone around you’re less effective. So to choose to stress yourself, if you choose to do it, you have to make that choice and you go into it because you chose to stress yourself.

It actually codes for new DNA in your brain, and it codes for new proteins, and you grow new synapses in your brain. So this has, again, been proven with loads of different functional MRI studies. But literally, if you choose to stress yourself with emotional intelligence, training, you grow new dormant, but they’re there in everyone dormant synaptic connections in your brain.

Those circuits grow and they get better and better and better and better. So you can enhance genuinely the anatomy in your brain. You grow new protein structures in your brain and you can then just deploy them because they stay. If you don’t use them, they atrophy. So if people are too scared of the pain or too unwilling to embrace that, that self induced stress, then they don’t get that opportunity.

So we can run courses on emotional intelligence, but that doesn’t mean someone is inviting the stress. And we have occasionally, or when we’ve done training like this said to people. Perhaps people can’t even hold eye contact, particularly holding eye contact if I lean in and shake your hand and we have a two minute conversation with no looking away.

People can’t do it. But if they choose to keep going, keep going, keep going, literally you watch these structures grow as it’s happening. Sweat’s pouring. And then it grows. And then an hour later they come to do the same and they can look me in the eye and say, hi, Rich, how are you? And you know, I love that. I love that.

[Jaz] That’s amazing.

[Richard] Because there’s your warmth. It is. The neuroplasticity is fast. I mean, your brain is so adaptive. I love it.

[Jaz] I really like the way that you liken everything to actually what’s happening inside the biology, inside the anatomy of the brain. I once read a book called Quiet. It’s about introverts. Have you read Quiet?

[Richard] Yeah.

[Jaz] So the introverts have a larger amygdala and that’s why they’re so good at sensing everything. And I believe it was that book, maybe another book where it talked about how we all have these synaptic connections, obviously, but then if we liken, for example, your public speaking synapse to be a narrow country lane versus a large motorway, it depends on how much you nourish.

Nourish it, how much you practice, you have how much, like, just like you said, how much you open and welcome yourself to it. So what are the, I mean, you’ve given a great idea of how one can go about improving their emotional intelligence, but before one can do that, they actually need to have a act of self discovery to know, okay, someone may not know exactly where they might lie.

So I believe there are some helpful aids out there to maybe, a questionnaire or something more complex than that to find out exactly where you lie in the scale of motion intelligence. What can we do for that?

[Richard] Do you know that I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently, actually, it’s almost like we scripted this interview just, but we haven’t, tell the speakers we haven’t, but that is, you really are hitting the questions on point.

So what we’re talking about there is like an immediate personality assessment of where I am. So if we started with the first scientific bit that’s my self awareness, who are we? And there’s lots of personality tests. So if you look in business, you’ve got to go home and say, they’re all doing DISC.

People may have heard of DISC, D I S C, for their personality assesments. Those Myers Briggs, this type assessments, they tend to come with a little bit of a label. So they are a label can then stick with you and limit your growth. So we don’t really use those in a scientific way. They’re good and they’re popular because it gives you a sense of self identity.

So on my Myers Briggs, I’m an ENTJ, but the flaws with that are the E is extrovert. That’s not a dichotomous situation. No one is 100 percent extrovert. In fact, if you are, you’re probably in prison. And if you’re 100 percent introvert, then so everybody is an ambivert, but you might just lean one way or the other.

So the more scientific tests that I encourage our delegates to do is it’s something called the big five, the big five ocean assessment. And that is the one that all scientific psychological literature is based on. So you have five big components to it, to your openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

And then there are subsets within those. And it’s very interesting when people do that with us because they will come back and do a scientific test. But then say I agree with this bit, but I don’t agree with that bit and you think, well, you inside you don’t get to agree with that bit and then you just don’t like that.

So for example, on my ocean score, my neuroticism is 9%. So I’m hyper low neurotic, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a thing, but it means that if I got to run a business, I really need to work with someone who’s really highly neurotic because I’ll just turn up and wing it. And they will be much more structured to it.

And actually, it’s not a weakness in me. It’s just the thing of me. You can work out where you are. So we encourage people, if you’re going to start to do your ocean assessment. The best ocean assessment online, I’m not advertising this. This is not, it’s nothing that I have any financial interest in, but the best one I use is something called understand myself, understand myself. com.

And you pay a few dollars and you get a full report and be ready because the stress is coming. None of us are perfect and I’m happy to list all my scores. I did it on a webinar not long ago, it makes for interesting reading.

[Jaz] It’s great. And I like how you mentioned about the your 9 percent neuroticism. And you mentioned about running a business there, which I want to just lead on to the next question quite nicely, actually. So running a business and you want to team up with someone who maybe has a higher score to get reach some sort of balance, but dentists and dental practices. They work with people, they work with teams.

So one of the things I’ve learned through attending these dental sales type courses, you know, that sort of stuff. And what they say is, the most important thing is the person who answers your phone, the reception team are the sort of gateway for revenue into your practice.

And so I think the most important thing to do is that if you’re going to train yourself and you’re going to improve as part of having a more successful business is that it will be silly to just focus on your own emotion intelligence. It would be a great thing to introduce the team to this concept and get your receptionist, your practice manager, the decision makers in your practice to also learn about and improve their motion intelligence. Cause surely that will mean so much more for a business, for a practice. Is that something that you talk about?

[Richard] Yeah, absolutely. And you’re quite right. You’re quite right. So we know that when someone walks into any sort of business, any sort of a hotel lobby or a dental practice or wherever it may be, when they meet you and they meet the first person there, it really is the first 15 seconds.

And that study has been taken to the point where they taken medics. And medics interacting with patients on video with video and audio, and then they’ve been watched by a group of lay people judging the medic and then subtracting the time so they have less chance to observe this interaction.

And what they’re doing is making a judgment call on whether this dentist, this doctor is going to be sued, going to be successful, going to be liked. And audiences are incredibly perceptive over this. They just feel it. That’s all emotional intelligence. We have no idea about this guy’s IQ. It’s just his warmth and competence.

And then they cut the sound down, and the time down, and it ended up with silent 15 minute videos, and the audience still got it always right. So that moment now in your receptionist answering the phone, they haven’t got body language, they haven’t got eye to eye contact, they haven’t got that boom.

So everything then comes to the phone. But interestingly, if you look at lectures delivered through an audio device. If the speaker is standing up and moving around as they do it, and when they say hello to the audience, actually put the hand out. They can’t be seen, but they do it. The audience rates that performance much, much higher.

So even though your reception staff are limited by audio, I’m not saying they need to walk around the practice and shake hands with people, but having them skilled up in just presenting a warm, kind, immediate point of contact is important. We know what patients want from that. Patients want to feel wanted.

They want to feel liked and they want to feel known. Now they’re probably not going to go through the known bit, until they meet you or your nurse and get into the clinical environment. But certainly when they come to your reception staff they need to feel wanted and they wanted to feel like they need to feel those two things. So it’s wanted, liked, and known. Those are the big ones.

[Jaz] So how can we get our teams to also, because it’s one of those things where if you’re, if you own a practice and then you tell your team, we need to be hot on emotional intelligence. Let’s all improve our emotional intelligence. Then they might listen.

They might not. But if someone external sometimes comes, then they’re, even though they’re saying the same message. They might resonate with them more. It’s one of those things. So do we need to be getting some emotional intelligent consultants to the practice to help improve, or is this something that we can start to introduce to our practices?

[Richard] Yeah, I mean, I think the training can come from anywhere and I don’t mind if it comes to external sources or internal, and if you’ve got enough structure to do it for people yourself. But I mean, I think that’s a great thing as well. Learning is learning and it’s valid, wherever it comes from.

So I have no issue with who does that, but definitely skilling up your team. One of the key things through anecdote and science is that our patients judge your relationship with you and your nurse massively. How you interact with people is something their subconscious mind observes.

If you think of all humans have a conscious and a subconscious mind and communication like you and I are doing now, we’re just giving each other access to our minds. That’s all we’re doing. You’re giving me access to your mind. I’ll give you access to mine and in your listeners will be doing the same.

And all we’re doing is judging each other’s minds. But it’s your mind and how it relates with other people. So if you have a good, friendly, enjoyable, positive, mutually positive relationship with your nurse, patients feel that energy and they like it and judge you positively because of it as well.

Same with your reception staff, it’s a whole team training, I think is a vital part of it. You know, if I have a delegate in trouble and or not in trouble, but just saying I’m finding work difficult, we will always say to them, what’s your relationship like with your nurse. Like, oh, you know, it’s really difficult.

They don’t want to be there and they’re bitter and twisted or it’s very, very hard. And that means you’re walking into the room every single day, having to pour positive energy, not just into your patient, but into the staff around you as well. Very, very difficult to do.

[Jaz] Extremely draining.

[Richard] Yeah. It really is.

[Jaz] So the last question I had was, I know we sort of, picked off from where you’re talking and some tangents to get where we are. One question I sort of missed out was, can you just make the emotional intelligence for anyone who hasn’t quite got it yet? Extremely tangible in the sense that let’s say dentists listening to this, and we have an unhappy patient, someone who complains, how might someone demonstrate or someone who has low emotional intelligence behave and what might they feel versus someone who has high EQ.

Can you just explain maybe how that scenario may be handled and why the role of emotional intelligence may actually have a bearing on the outcome or how it’s actually perceived and the emotions?

[Richard] I think it’s a really good question. Again, Jaz, one that warrants quite sort of expansive, explanation. So if you were to look at like dental protection society, and they say, this is how you handle complaints. If you have low EI, you will just naturally look at that and think, well, I’ve got the formula to follow. I just follow the recipe. All I have to do is ABC. It’s a very linear process. If you have high EI, one, you probably haven’t had the complaint in the first place, but two, when it comes in or you feel it, you would have felt it coming on before it’s even coming on.

So we all have difficult patients, but firstly, you can spot them. If you have low EI, you can high EI, you can anticipate where they’re coming from. Because difficult people are often full of explanations over why they’re difficult. They don’t know they’re difficult. They might tell you that a lot about themselves if you ask and you just have the ability to unpack their mind and understand their mind, and then empathize with their mind.

Give their mind somewhere to land and make them feel wanted, even if they’re not, make them feel wanted and certainly make them feel known. And if that happens, then you really do just reduce the risk of a complaint massively. So in terms of a tangible example. I spent a lot of my time in the hospital and we have a patient, this is a real life example, who’s somebody who came in and checked in and the computer system tells us that they’re here and for whatever reason it didn’t work.

So this patient arrives and sees another patient arrive and going before them and another one going before them and another one going before them. And they go up to reception desk after an hour of waiting there very patiently. And I’ve now finished my clinic and I’ve got to go to a meeting and the receptionist says, well, you didn’t turn up for your appointment on time.

New reception staff, different one now, says you didn’t turn up for your appointment on time and, and Dr. Porter’s gone and you’ll be discharged. So the patient is now really, really angry. I get wind of it and then I see the patient. And so before you see the patient, if you are able, which even look at you, Jaz, I think you’ll be naturally just able to do it.

You’ve got to be able to put yourself in that person’s shoes, but not put their shoes in 60 minutes waiting, saw three patients, put your shoes into how they are feeling. And as they walk in the room, act appropriately, contextually, to someone that is feeling anger, but has justified anger, is probably feeling a little let down, is probably feeling they had some concerns they needed to discuss with a consultant.

And now has been told they can’t have it. Maybe feeling betrayed by the system. Maybe they had a bad day yesterday as well. They might be feeling sad and they might be, and if you could do all of that when they come in and you hit them with your warmth and your competence and you look them in the eye and say, I found out what happened to you.

I’m just so sorry that happened to you. And we can talk about that. But once we’ve talked about that, now or later, I can do everything I can to make it right for you and help you as much as I can with a problem you want to talk to me about. Immediately, the situation is improved. Now, we have delegates who say that.

How did you know how to say that? And I say, because if you don’t know, if it’s not given to you, you’re going to practice. So say it back to me now. I’m not asking you just now, but we will say, I say, say it back to me now and we role play and people say, I can’t role play. I can’t, I’m not going to role play.

I say, well, you are, I’m your angry patient. The rest of you 20, you’re watching. I’m the angry patient role play with me. And they get really uncomfortable. And then they do it and then it comes along and the feedback we get is, is from people who go through that process is the one that this changed my career.

You literally neuroplasticize people then and there or through a more structured program and then they can handle those complaints better. I hope that answers the question.

[Jaz] It does fantastic. It really, it really does. So I love these real life examples that we face, you know, very similar sort of circumstances day in day in our role.

So I really appreciate that. So those are the main questions I wanted to cover today. ’cause obviously we can talk about this for days and days and days. So to give those listening a flavor, those who may be unfamiliar with ei, now they know what it is and how they can improve it.

The fact that, it’s something that you can work on, but it requires you to come out your comfort zone. We touched on a few interesting things about your personality and luck at the beginning, which I quite enjoyed. And actually one thing I was going to save to now, should we have enough time?

And we just got a couple of minutes there is, have you heard of the, I’m probably saying this name wrong in New Zealand, Dunedin? Dunedin?

[Richard] Yeah.

[Jaz] Have you heard of the Dunedin studies?

[Richard] I don’t know them. No.

[Jaz] Oh, okay. I’m going to send you something. I’m going to send you an email, so I’m going to send you a very special email that you give you some access, some exclusive content, but it’s sort of like the study that you mentioned. I believe you said it was in London where they follow people up from birth to-

[Richard] Harvard happiness, Harvard happiness study.

[Jaz] Right. Okay. So Harvard. Okay. Well, from what I’ve read and what I’ve seen, the Dunedin study is the world leader of all those types. So when, as soon as a child is born in the hospital in Dunedin, then they are followed up every so months and they look at every facet of their development.

Every part of what makes them who they are, the relationship with their mother, their temperature when they’re born, like various different things. Then they measure them and they measure them and they measure them. And then they see who turns up in the prison, who becomes successful, quote unquote, who has a thriving relationships.

And I just. I just, one of my favorite studies and things to learn about is that, and I think it was just sort of touched on that. So for those, every episode, I like to put some resources for people to look onto. So I’m going to send that to you, but I’m also open up to everyone. I’ll find something and put it on about the Harvard study that you said as well.

[Richard] Yeah. And I can say plenty more to you to put up. Well, we’re now quality of life and lifespan based on personalities. And there’s a difference.

[Jaz] That’d be great. Any last points you want to leave us with, Richard, at all?

[Richard] Just in terms of everyone’s going back to work now. This is a time to rebuild. This is the best, this is a transitional time. This is the time to build on this. And one of the things we help people do or willing to help anyone do not just aspire delegates, anyone at all is become that version of themselves in the future.

So to do that, we know how to do that about setting goals about enjoying the process along those goals and how you actually structure that into place. That’s something we would encourage anyone to do. Don’t just become a dentist who follows a label. Goes in, fix his teeth, goes home, does a different role at home, next day, same.

That routine cycle is, for many of us, a dead end. We know dentists are struggling with stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression. This is the way, it’s future authoring. You author who you want to be. And go along that process. And ei is the fundamental engine of that.

[Jaz] Brilliant. Well, thank you so much, Richard. Please do send me some links, resources. I want to know about anything that you guys are putting on for this as well as the ocean sort of everything on, I want to put it on a link so people can find out more about this ’cause it’s such an important topic.

[Richard] Yeah. Well, that’s great. I’ll do all that. Thank you.

Jaz’s Outro:
Thank you so much, Richard. Cheers. So I hope you enjoyed listening to that as much as I enjoyed chatting to Richard Porter. Thank you so much, everyone, for voting for this episode. So I sort of presented, I wanted you to have the choice, which episode you want to listen to next.

So the choices between emotional intelligence or case acceptance and smile design. So the next episode will be case acceptance in smile design. And I’m not going to tell you who the guest is, but I’ve got someone who literally does the most big cases, smile design cases that I know, like personally, I know them, and the amount of cases, the volume of smart design cases they do.

They can obviously speak to patients about this kind of dentistry and so many amazing gems you pick up. So really excited for the next episode. Join us in around about a couple of weeks time. A lot of you have forgotten that a lot of the content that is here on audio to listen to is actually available by video as well on the YouTube channel.

Or eventually on Dental Tubules if you want it enhanced CPD. So thanks so much for sticking all the way to the end. I really appreciate it. I’ll catch you in the next episode guys. Goodbye.

Hosted by
Jaz Gulati

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