And, Then, Be Quiet (Issue 1132)

In which we are reminded to ‘zip our lips” after we’ve made our pitch or recommendation.

My dentist did a good job this week.

I got hit in the mouth when I was 10 years old. I was playing basketball on the playground during recess. Leslie Anderson had the ball and she was planning to shoot. I attempted an “over the back” shot block. [Poor technique, I now know.] As she rose up to take her shot, I came down and our heads collided. Her head healed well. My mouth… not so much.

Through the years there have been a couple of more incidents involving my mouth and, from time to time, things go a little haywire in there. When the most recent flare-up began a couple of weeks ago, my dentist took some X-rays, my endodontist had a look, and he sent me back to see my dentist. I like my dentist. I was not excited about this visit.

She smiled when I stepped into her operatory. “How are you?”, she asked.

“Fine, thank you, and I’d rather be somewhere else just now.”

“I understand,” she said, nodding. Pointing to the dental chair, she suggested, “Please… sit down.”

Her face about three feet from mine as I sat in the dental chair, her eyes looking at mine, she said, “I see three options for you at this point.” She outlined the options, none of them happy outcomes as far as I was concerned, and she presented her conclusion.

And, then she stopped and sat quietly, half-smiling, her eyes looking at mine.

I’d guess thirty seconds passed in silence. At some point, I looked away, through the window, to the trees outside.

“This is not what I was hoping for,” I said, quietly.

“I know,” she replied. More silence. Longer. Maybe another minute or two.

One of my college floor mates, Kim, had come back to college after a few years off, some of which included selling cars. During one or another late-night dorm discussion about something, he turned to me and said, “Nick, you talk too much. Say your piece, make your pitch, and stop talking… be quiet…let them sit with it….. see what happens.”

My dentist did a good job this week. She said her piece without adding to it or explaining it or qualifying it or diminishing it or backing away from it or reassuring me. She just said her piece and let me sit with it.

She did a good job.

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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