Persuasion vs Manipulation

Uncategorized Oct 29, 2018

The subject of persuasion has been around for a long, long time.


As far back as 333 BC, Aristotle wrote about Ethos, Pathos and Logos as his 3 modes of persuasion – the 3 main factors that influence and compel people to buy something.


Usually, we read of this in business or the marketing area.


But increasingly, we are seeing more and more of this being integrating into the “sales and business of dentistry”.


Very often, you hear about “ethical sales” in dentistry, or “ethical persuasion”.


I get it.


And I do agree that all we do must be ethical in our dentistry.


As dentists, you and I know, there isn’t really any need to include the word “ethical”.


Surely that’s a given, yeah?


For example, do you sometimes feel that offering private options is perceived as manipulative?


Or can be seen that way in the eyes of your patients?


Or colleagues?


Is this a ‘mental block’ of yours to overcome?


With this in mind, I want to share my thoughts on ethical persuasion vs manipulation. 


So… what’s the difference between persuasion and manipulation.


In one word?




What is the intent behind the ‘sale’ aiming to be achieved?


With persuasion in dentistry – the intention behind the discussion and proposed treatment cannot be questioned.


It focuses on our patients.


As dentists, it goes without saying – everything we do must be honest, ethical and with integrity.


Compare this with manipulation.


With manipulation, the intent is focused on benefiting the ‘seller’. 


Now, putting my dento-legal hat on for a moment…


More and more, dentists need to take care when discussing treatment options with their patients. 


We must be giving all relevant and appropriate options with our patients.


And be careful not to make any assumptions – based on previous case acceptance, what we think they can afford


Remember how important the informed consenting process is with your patient.


This involves providing all relevant and appropriate treatment options.


And it is an ongoing process, not a one-off event.


As well as the risks and benefits associated – managing expectations along the way (sometimes easier said than done!).


We really shouldn’t let conversations around money get in the way – and leave us, as dentists, vulnerable in any way.


I recently read some of the thoughts of a Medical School Dean in America, at the induction ceremony of his newest year of first year medical students.


He said knowing the technical aspects of medicine, while vital, doesn’t make someone a great physician.


Rather, listening, empathizing, and treating each patient as an individual are the hallmarks of excellence.


“Be the doctor your patient needs you to be,” he said more than once.


It struck me – just how true are these words?


And just so, so relevant to us dentists too.


Our ability to listen, understand, empathize, and genuinely care about patients is one of the cornerstones of our success. 


Yes, we do need to have the ‘hands-on skills’ and the ability to ‘close the sale’…


But developing the above traits will make a much greater impact than being a ‘killer sales closer’.


Here’s a real important tip…


You must get your patients to like you, trust you and feel comfortable with you so that they will open up and truthfully tell you what they want need and desire.


The thing you need to remember is that persuasion and influence in selling is nothing more than transference of emotion.


It’s bringing patients around to your way of thinking.


In order to do that, you have to make sure that your thinking is that your mindset is correct.


The first part of your mindset is this:


You want to believe with your whole being, that you offer the finest service that’s available in the marketplace.


Have some confidence in your ability!


The second important belief that you must adopt is that you provide a product/service that really fulfils a want, need or desire.


Remember that people buy based totally on emotion and then defend the sale with logic.


A key success secret/strategy is to really connect to what you are doing and fully understand the positive long range of effect of what you are selling has on your patient.


And the negative result it will have on them if you don’t close the ‘sale’.


Be patient focused.


Let the ‘sale’ take care of itself.


To Your Ongoing Success, 



Dr Leonard J Maguire


General Dental Surgeon

Co-Founder of The Dentists Academy

- “The Complete Business Toolkit for Dentists in General Practice”


Stay connected with us 

Join our growing network of fellow Dentists to receive the latest ideas and updates from our team.

Yes, I'd like to stay connected.

50% Complete

Simply enter your details below and you will receive and email with your login details.