Communication skills to further financial conversations

Article written by Mary Metten, Health and Well-being Extension Educator. 
Originally published in the Kenosha News.

Think about the people you encounter related to housing.

People and places like landlords, property managers, realtors, banks, utility companies, plumber, roofer; there is an abundance of options.

For the best success it isn’t only the transfer of service, but also how you’re able to communicate needs, questions, or even expression of thoughts and feelings. The importance of deploying different communication skills throughout these encounters cannot be understated.

Things related to your home can be emotional to deal with and often money comes into play, which can add to tension that may already be there.

In teaching different financial related topics, communication often comes up. While an automatic connection may not be apparent, the link of money and communication skills should be thought of.

Business relationships

Business relationships are connections we have with people in a professional scope. These business relationships usually have different communication priorities; more direct, courteous, and typically for specific needs.

Take time to:

Plan ahead: Think about who you’ll be communicating with, why you’re making contact, how you’re going to facilitate the conversation, and when you’re going to make contact.

Determine the topic: Be prepared to clearly state your purpose and remain focused on the matter at hand.

Be specific: Make sure you ask for or explain your specific needs/requests. Let the other person know full information you can supply about the situation.

Use written communication: You may want to start a ‘paper trail’ of notes to refer to, next steps, and to keep organized. Written communication may also be a favored method of communicating with someone, depending on the situation.

Active listening

Another aspect of communication is remembering both sides of a conversation play a key role; being on the receiving end is an important component to good communication and requires taking an active role.

When using active listening:

Give the person your undivided and focused attention. This can take practice in our multitasking world.

Allow the other person to completely finish speaking before asking questions or responding.

At the point they are finished, restate what you heard in your own words and allow for clarification, ‘So, what I hear you saying is…, is that correct?’

When it’s understood you’ve interpreted them correctly, respond to further the conversation.

Try to practice when you are not in an emergency situation or timeframe. When under a lot of stress your brain often flips into survival mode and it’s harder to reach for new skills or take time to remember different ideas. Repetition helps develop habits and integration into regular communication.

I shared the importance of some of these communication skills during United Way of Kenosha County’s virtual resource fair series. April’s theme highlighted Healthy Financial Habits; the presenting group also covered subjects like the eviction moratorium, credit reports, and benefits of a checking account.
Visit United Way of Kenosha’s Facebook page to watch the recording and find previous resource fair events at https://www.facebook.com/UnitedWayKenosha/ and navigate to videos.
University of Wisconsin-Madison      |        Explore Extension: Agriculture Community Development Families & Finances Health Natural Resources Youth