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Explaining the Obvious: 3 Curses of Knowledge

clinical communication

Have you ever wondered why your patients and customers just don’t “get it”? You are explaining the obvious. Why don’t they get it!?! Could something else be in play? There is. You are victim to the “Curse of Knowledge”. (A great book about this is Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.) Let me explain.

To you, it is obvious because it is such common knowledge and you use it multiple times every working day. But to your patients, it is brand new and unfamiliar. I don’t want you “dumbing it down”, rather you need to explain it with universal language and examples that make sense to them.


3 Curses of Knowlege


Let’s start with pokes.

Pokes happen. Use the winding rope example. Let the client know that this is not unusual, and it’s temporary. Remind the client that as the wire moves the uneven teeth into place, it might poke out of the back of the braces. You will provide wax for comfort and we can see them and clip a wire if it’s uncomfortable.



Sometimes, as we are moving teeth in the mouth, they do not all move at the same time as a unit. And, that can create spaces and gaps between some teeth. Use the cars at a stoplight example to illustrate the phenomenon. Remind them that this is a temporary and common situation. The teeth are not going to stay that way. It is all part of the process to a beautiful smile.



Our final example is about bites. When explaining buildups to a parent you can use the sticky-candy-in-molars example. This is annoying but serves a vital function. The changes in the bite will occur. Once the purpose of the buildup is complete they will be removed.



All in all, remember that what is obvious to you is new to them. Explain, explain, and explain again. Use concrete everyday life examples to illustrate what is going on to alleviate concerns and frustrations. All this will lead to fewer panicked calls to the practice and calmer and more satisfied patients and families.

For more information on how you and your team can become masters of communication with your customers, contact Communicate Excellence at [email protected].