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Finish this sentence: “My job as a claims professional would be much easier if the customer would just ____.”

Invariably, workshop attendees most often fill in that blank with “listen.” One of the claims maxims we have stressed over the years is, “People will listen to you to the exact degree you show them you understand their point of view.” The interaction below, which we overheard while monitoring phone calls, provides a lesson in listening. How would you have handled the situation?

The insurance company representative dials the phone number listed for the claimant. The phone rings, and Mr. Swope picks up.

Mr. Swope: “Hello.”

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