most important aspect of communication is listening and it is the
one aspect that everyone, including yours truly, fails to practice.
Most of us in the credit and collection business believe we are good
Listening, especially in collections, is vital if one expects to be
successful in their endeavors. A breakdown of the communication
process tells us that verbal communication is less then 45% of the
communication process while visual exceeds 55%. Unfortunately, the
majority of collecting is done over the telephone where we do not have
the advantage of seeing who we are speaking to.
Listening not only involves what is spoken but more importantly
what is not said. In order to listen skillfully it is necessary for
the person being addressed to remove all distractions that would
prevent them from hearing what is being said.
Anyone who has spoken before an audience and allowed questions to
be asked will reveal that it is not unusual for a participant ask a
question and shortly thereafter, within 10 minutes, another
participant sitting directly in front, behind or next to the previous
questioner will ask the same identical question. Why? The audience is
not actively listening. Often it is the most experienced who miss out
on important information. They anticipate where the conversation is
headed and wait for the speaker to catch up with them often times
missing important points.
Attorneys, who practice in court, are often questioned as to why
they will ask the same question repeatedly of a witness. Mr. Jones
can you tell us why …. Do you mean to tell this court Mr. Jones that
…. Mr. Jones do you expect this jury to believe that …….
Attorneys do this because they know that the court or jury is
not listening completely and that by asking the same question several
different times in a different manner the odds are the court or jury
will eventually hear the testimony. Of course sometimes they do it to
see if the witness will change their answer but the majority of the
time it is based on the lack of listening skills.
As collection professionals it is necessary that we not only
develop but also practice, daily, the listening skills necessary to be
successful in our endeavors. Interestingly, many people will readily
admit that they are not good speakers, but who ever admits to not
being a good listener?
Some of the most successful people are those that never speak out
unless their opinion is sought
and often it is because their expertise is based on the information
they have acquired through practiced listening.
Below are listed six points that every collection professional
should be aware of and practice to become a better listener:
- Always take notes. Documentation is important for follow-up but
one who documents is also listening.
- Avoid daydreaming. Make a conscious decision to listen.
- Control your emotions. Often is the case when we call for money
the customer wants to first inform us of why they are dissatisfied
with our company’s product or service. As professionals it is
our responsibility to remain in control and not allow emotions to
get in the way of our responsibility.
- Control distractions. Radios, fellow employees, gazing out the
window. All of these take away from effective listening.
- Ask questions for clarification. Questions clarify not only what
the speaker has said but also what they mean.
- Practice patience. Some people need to tell a story to get to
their point. A patient listener is rewarded with getting the
information required the first time.
Listening is an art and a good listener is successful.
I wish you well.
information is provided as information only and not legal advice.
Legal advice should be obtained from a competent, licensed attorney,
in good standing with the state bar association.