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Feb 01 2015
The Power of Listening
Shane Inglesby, CCE, Geneva Rock Products, Inc.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs and social media in general - offer forums for communication. The sharing of information, ideas, experiences, thoughts and commentary are helpful and needed. Much can be learned but learning can only take place if you stop, take a breath and . . . listen.


How often have you been in a conversation when the individual you are conversing with seems more interested in getting the next word or thought inserted rather than truly listening to what you have to say? If you are like me, such experiences can be frustrating because two-way communication is not being achieved. Your comments are nothing more than a springboard for someone else to add his or her commentary. Such exchanges demonstrate that no effort is being made to truly understand what you have to say. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "There is a difference between truly listening and waiting for your turn to talk." Conversation in today's day and age often feels more like surfing social media rather than effective and meaningful two-way communication. Listening is almost an afterthought because individuals become so invested in sharing their "post." The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply. 


How can we expect to make sense of the world around us if we are only interested in getting our own point across? True understanding can only occur when an effort is made to listen. We all have something to share that will give value to those around us. The same applies to everyone around us. They, too, have knowledge and insight that can be beneficial. The key is simply taking the time to acknowledge this potential by . . . listening.

Stephen R. Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote that to be understood we must first seek to understand. We need to put ourselves in a place where we can appreciate the needs and desires of those with whom we interact. The only way to achieve this appreciation is if we take time to understand without constantly striving to make our point heard. Listening provides the data for us to make better decisions.


As credit managers, we make important decisions on a daily basis. We determine to what companies or individuals we will extend credit terms. We determine what accounts will be placed on hold and what accounts, if necessary, will be closed. Such decisions are vital to the success of the companies we represent.  


Credit managers are expected to use good judgment. Good judgment can only be achieved if we first seek to understand. Quick judgment without full understanding will lead to rash decisions based on partial and perhaps, even sometimes, incorrect information or assumptions.

The old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" applies so appropriately to the world of credit. The ounce of prevention is effective communication which, by definition, includes a heavy dose of listening. Better informed decisions will be made and improved performance will be the result of better understanding. The "skill" of listening avoids the adverse effects of bad judgment.