Personality test - communication

I have previously advised against implementing personality profiling as part of patient communication in the dental practice. Not because it doesn't work. It can actually work quite brilliantly and support patient communication super well. Provided that the theories are put into practice appropriately and incorporated into the other systems of patient communication in the practice.

This post is about how to implement personality testing in your dental practice.

  • What you will get out of it

  • What it requires

  • Recommendations for implementation

  • Different systems you can use

Pencil lies on multiple choice test

If patient communication systems are not implemented in the dental practice, I would advise the practice to look at this first and then at the patient personality profiles.

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Personality test

When effective patient communication frameworks are implemented and proven to create deeper relationships with patients, leading to greater acceptance of complex treatment proposals. Then you can start working with more complex systems of patient communication. Including person profiling.

Please note that I call these complex systems. Because it is not easy to work with person profiling in the context of patient communication. It requires a sustained focus that typically takes many months - sometimes years - to implement so that they work as intended.

The Communication Triangle

Hatt Consulting - the communication triangle

Person profiling belongs to the communication triangle levels 4 and 5. Level 4 is what we can handle as individuals and level 5 is when all patient communication has become a streamlined process that everyone in the team works on systematically.

I think you have to take that into consideration when you start working with such a sophisticated form of communication. My recommendation is often to wait until you have mastered all the other disciplines of patient communication. You can read about them here on my blog, or you can join the next course: "Get to yes - patient communication 2.0", which I am organising in collaboration with Straumann Group.


If you feel tempted to start working with personality profiles, I would recommend you to approach it in a certain order:

  1. Test yourself. Study how others perceive you and how you can adjust your own way of communicating so that your message is perceived as you want it to be perceived by others.

  2. Invite your staff to be tested. When you know each other's personality profiles, a number of past conflicts begin to make more sense. You will become better at playing together as a team if you apply internally what you learn about yourself and each other. As a personnel tool, personality testing can be a really valuable tool - if you work with it properly.

  3. When everyone in the team knows about personality profiles and is able to work with that knowledge internally in the team. Then you are ready to work more with it in terms of patient communication.


Once everyone in the team has a good grasp of the basic framework and knows their own and their colleagues' personality profiles, you can start to work with this knowledge in patient communication. Here I recommend outsourcing part of the task of identifying patients' personality profiles to the team.

Some of the ways I have worked with personality profiles is by looking at all the interactions patients have with the team of the dental practice. In this way, it is possible to delegate the task of identification to others in the team.

Example of delegation

Magazine next to coffee cup

An easy place to start, for example, is to have the practice subscribe to different kinds of magazines. Each magazine should appeal to its own kind of personality.

If you use the DISA method, which you can find described in the book: Surrounded by Idiots.

You will find, for example, that it is typically blue types who read illustrated science. Whereas the red ones typically don't pick up a magazine, but rather look at their watch and get irritable if they have to sit and wait.

The receptionist can be trained to record the type of magazine patients are reading. Over time, as the team trains skills in person profiling, this observation can be combined with observations about clothing and behaviour. Taken together, the observations can lead to an initial indexing of the patient.

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Patient Indexing

If you're starting to get a little nervous twitching as you read this, it's not abnormal. Because indexing patients and putting them in boxes and cubicles the way I describe doesn't sound quite right. Here I think we need to do 2 things:

  1. We need to look at the overall purpose of our action. None of us wants to manipulate our patients. Rather, we want to communicate in a way that they hear and understand our message, so that they can make better decisions about their own health. We can do this better if we know how to communicate better with our patients.

  2. It doesn't seem right to assess and index patients in this way when we split the task and delegate it to others in our team in a systematic way. The truth is that all humans do it automatically. We index and categorise all the people around us all the time, to keep track of all the data we collect.

Frankly, I think it's better that we get a more informed view of the patient's personality by having several different people gather knowledge and thereby reach some kind of consensus, rather than relying on our own flawed, subjective assessments. What do you think?

Please leave a comment about what you think at the bottom of the comment box.

Different methods

Question? painted on a wall. Black and white image

There are several really good methods for indexing personal profiles. The most accurate ones operate with up to 256 different person profiles while acknowledging that it is still only guidelines to the right person profile.

The challenge with this model is that the team has difficulty grasping the model.