The four human personality types in the dental practice

The degree to which others see a person's behaviors as being forceful or directive.

The degree to which a person's behaviors are seen by others as being emotionally responsive or expressive, or emotionally controlled.

These are things that may not be considered on a day-to-day basis in the dental practice, but it could be beneficial to dentists and the rest of the staff to begin to analyze such personality traits.

The ability to understand and recognize different personalities can be something that helps with patient treatment acceptance and relationship issues with co-workers said Michael Perry, DDS, CDA director of practice management. Perry has identified the main personality types that can be present in the dental practice based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which was created from science developed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.

Specifically, Perry says there are four types of personalities in the dental practice: Driver, Intuitive, Stabilizer and Calculator (DiSC). Below is a breakdown of what each personality type includes.

Driver — Blends a high level of emotional self-control with a high degree of assertiveness. Task-oriented people who know where they are going and what they want. They get to the point quickly and express themselves succinctly. They are typically pragmatic, decisive, results-oriented, objective and competitive. They are usually independent, willing to take sound risks and valued for their ability to get things done.

Intuitive — Tends to integrate a high level of assertiveness with much emotional expression. Looks at the big picture, and often takes fresh, novel approaches to problems. Generally willing to take risks in order to seize opportunities and realize dreams. Their ability to charm, persuade, excite and inspire people with a vision of the future can be a strong motivating force. They tend to decide and act quickly.

Stabilizer — Combines higher-than-average responsiveness with a comparatively low level of assertiveness. Tends to be sympathetic to the needs of others and are quite sensitive to what lies below the surface behavior of another person. Of all the styles, they are most likely to use empathy and understanding in interpersonal problem solving. Their trust in others often brings out the best in their customers, friends and coworkers.

Calculator — Combines a high level of emotional self-control with a low level of assertiveness. Tends to take a precise, deliberate and systematic approach to work. Usually gathers and evaluates much data before acting. Generally industrious, objective and well organized.

Perry said most dentists are a mix of the calculator and stabilizer personality types. This, according to Perry, can sometimes become a problem if describing treatment to patients too technically. The same goes for other members of the dental staff such as dental assistants and hygienists who are also often oriented toward technical detail.

"Most dentists are great at microsurgery, but communication can be a challenge," Perry said. "No personality type is better than another personality type, but if you own a practice and fall under the calculator personality type and you have a dental assistant or hygienist that has a calculator or stabilizer personality type, you will have to understand and adapt to their characteristics for the betterment of the practice — I like to say dentistry is 80 percent treatment and 20 percent psychology."

Perry encourages entire dental teams, not just dentists, to study and understand the various personality types. When a patient calls for an appointment, for example, the staff member who received the call can attempt to understand what category that patient falls under. By the time the patient comes in for his or her appointment, the staff member will be able to inform the rest of the team what to expect out of that patient's personality.

Perry warns not to rely on the system too much, however, because it isn't a be-all and end-all.

"Some people are easier to judge than others, some will fall into a specific category and some will be in the middle. It's just a tool. Personalities are not always a measurable thing," Perry said.

For more practice management and support information, visit cda.org/practicesupport.