Ask Me To Think (Issue 1134)

In which we are encouraged to lead with questions that prompt client thought.

After mulling over my dentist’s recommendation, I took a friend’s advice and booked an appointment with another dentist, someone with a few more years’ experience than mine. After we said our “hellos”, she confirmed, “You’re here for a second opinion.”

“Yes, I am,” I replied, “thank you.”

“Tell me what’s been happening,” she said. I shared the history. She turned to her computer screen and reviewed my X-rays.

“OK, let me have a look,” she said moving to my side.

After she completed her exam she said, “I think you’re getting good advice from your dentist. If you were my patient, I’d recommend the same strategy.”

I sighed and grunted softly.

“You’re not happy with this,” she said.

“Right, not happy. I understand why we’re here, I understand the recommendation, and I wish it were another way. I don’t really want this procedure.”

We looked at each other in silence for a moment.

“I understand,” she said, and….”

And I thought, “this is the moment at which this deeply experienced dentist she tells me why I should have this procedure, what will happen if I don’t have the procedure, how great things will be after the procedure, the benefits of doing it sooner rather than later, how competent my dentist is, the success rates with the procedure, the shorter-than-it-used-to-be recovery time from the procedure…”

But, instead, she asked me a question: “What’s been your experience with things like this?”

I had to think about that for a moment.

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