Listening As Art – The Unspoken Role Of Funeral Directors

EarAs a funeral director, you may be well-practiced in knowing what to say to clients. But have you considered that speaking is half of the equation of most conversations? How practiced are you at listening?

Your clients may often need a sounding board, someone objective, yet compassionate to their grief and needs. In some instances, you may be the first person with whom they have spoken to about their recent loss. Perhaps they have no other family members to share their burden, to make final arrangements, or simply listen to them.

Keep in mind that to hear and understand what your client says is not gleaned exclusively through their words. What can be equally, or even more important, is how words are spoken. Pay attention to tone, inflection and body language that accompanies each word.

Emotions are often closely woven in physical expression. Think how flat and meaningless the words I love you would sound if there were no smile and warmth to accompany them. Would you believe them, feel any amount of sincerity?

Practicing your skills of listening helps to smooth out the burrs of dis-use, so that the exchanges between you and your clients will flow more naturally. Listening can truly become an art, one that clients can appreciate and regard as kindness.

Let’s look at a few guidelines:

  • Eye contact. Have you ever talked to someone who couldn’t take their eyes off their watch, their shoes, the dog scratching its fleas? Did you feel ignored and unimportant? Perhaps that person was only distracted with financial or personal difficulties? Even if you do not intend to be disrespectful, how will you clients know otherwise if you appear distracted?

Eyes are often what threads people together. Eyes can convey commitment, that each moment is meaningful enough to give a part of your time someone else.

  • Practice patience.Nearly everyone wants to get their two cents in, be heard, express their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, however, conversation escalates into nothing more than a rapid-fire exchange of words rifling holes through each others sentences. After a while, all that’s left of talk is a few pocked syllables scattered on the floor.

It may help to remember that conversation is an exchange that does not always require you to speak. Your clients come to you because you are available to meet them. They will likely stay if you are available to hear them.

As people get older, sometimes their ability to hear begins to fail. But this doesn’t mean that a funeral director’s ability to provide excellent customer service should fail as well. Visit Lloyds for a great selection of hearing aids. This site even offers a free hearing test.

  • The great imposture. If your mama nagged you to sit up straight, it probably wasn’t just to torment you. Not only is bad posture unhealthy for your spine and breathing, it can send a message to your clients that you are inattentive.

Imagine that you are applying for a bank loan and the agent sits crossed-legged and slouched behind his desk, looking like a suit frumped over the back of a chair. Would you feel like you were dealing with a professional, someone who was interested in dealing with your needs? Would you be likely to leave and do business with someone else, someone who appeared crisp and attentive?

What if your bad posture was due to a physical ailment, such as a misaligned spine? A simple chiropractic adjustment may be all that you need to prevent miscommunication between you and your clients. To get good tips for choosing a chiropractor, Quackwatch. And for a national online directory, look to

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