Know Your Patient's Behavior Styles

Understanding your patients' behavioral styles can help you customize their practice experience and boost satisfaction. Here's how.

Lauren King, director of customer service at DoctorsManagement, a medical and healthcare consulting firm based in Knoxville, Tenn., recommends that her clients use a behavioral-style approach to customer service training. Staff members are trained to pick up on cues that signal a patient's particular behavioral style so they can better respond to their needs. For example, one patient might appreciate getting a lot of personal attention while another might value efficiency over bedside manner.

"You can customize patients' experiences based on their behavioral styles," says King. "It also helps with teamwork because you can assign people to jobs that are more suited to their personalities."

The behavioral styles fall into two broad categories - task-oriented and people-oriented - each of which has two subtypes. Here are some of the traits associated with each of the four types:

Task-oriented styles:


• Self-reliant

• Outspoken

• Competitive with self and others

• Impatient

• Likes making the rules and being in charge

• Action-oriented

• Sticks to decisions


• Analytical

• Avoids attention

• Works well independently

• Pays attention to detail

• Wants to do things well

• Plans ahead

• Appreciates order

People-oriented styles


• Starts conversations easily

• Jokes around

• Likes meeting people

• Thinks positively

• Persuasive

• Makes friends easily

• Likable


• Avoids attracting attention

• Careful about making decisions

• Enjoys helping others

• Understands others' feelings

• Willing to compromise

• Avoids conflict

• Slow to anger