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Published Articles by David Balovich

Title: How Well Do You Listen?
Published in: Creditworthy News
Date: 2/19/03
The 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 listeners.

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:

  1. Always take notes. Documentation is important for follow-up but one who documents is also listening. 
  2. Avoid daydreaming. Make a conscious decision to listen.
  3. 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.
  4. Control distractions. Radios, fellow employees, gazing out the window. All of these take away from effective listening.
  5. Ask questions for clarification. Questions clarify not only what the speaker has said but also what they mean.
  6. 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.

This 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.

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