Listen for a change

Not too long ago I had a query with the bank. In fact, my accountant needed some bank statements from the beginning of the year, which I didn’t have. So what do I do?

  1. I call the bank

  2. Give my name, account number, dates for the statements in question

  3. Tell the lady on the line when I need them by

After I have this conversation with her, she tells me that I am going to have to give her the query and details in writing, explaining it as the ‘banks rules.’ Having worked at banks before, I didn’t argue, took down the e-mail address and got to writing.

Imagine my surprise and delight when in just a matter of a few hours my inbox chimed with a reply from the bank. I told myself never to complaint again about the banking system or the bankers in India. Unfortunately, I spoke/thought too soon.

The statements dates were all correct, I received the reply within the requested time, but to my sheer annoyance, which turned to horror, the statements weren’t mine. They belonged to some random guy living in my city. I mean I had his home address, name, bank account information and balance.

Being a responsible and over cautious individual, I immediately called the bank and let them know what had happened. They told me to notify the main office via e-mail. I do so and again the same girl has answered my call and apologizes profusely. She sends me my statements, even the correct months, but the wrong year. Idiot! What’s my point?

  1. Don’t have incompetent people sitting to answer phone calls.

  2. Train those in these positions or any for that matter and teach them to listen and take notes.

  3. Learn to read and understand them.

Communications (mainly listening) is the foundation of all day-to-day activities, then why is this basic need the one most people ignore?

Anyway, I call back for the third or fourth time and pray someone else answers. Fortunately, another individual got on the call and took over the matter at hand and resolved the issues. What did he do differently? He paid attention! He listened, probably took notes, then read them back to me and asked me if he got everything right. I said, ‘yes,’ and he told me that I would have everything in my e-mail by the end of the day.

Sure enough there it all was, just as I needed it. Listening is probably one of the easiest things to do, but we are so self absorbed that we don’t stop talking or thinking when someone else is talking and miss some very valuable information.

Here are few ways to listen better:

  • Don’t talk; let the other person do it.

  • Don’t’ interrupt, what’s the difference between the first one and this? Interrupting doesn’t just mean stopping the other person with your own verbal diarrhea, it means, not thinking of something or someone else, not looking at your phone or e-mail and definitely no planning your next hot date.

  • Make eye contact.

  • Nod to let the speaker know you are listening.

  • When in doubt, ask!

  • Pay attention to body language.

  • Provide feedback.

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