4 mistakes to avoid when speaking with 'elders' - HECMWorld.com Skip to content

4 mistakes to avoid when speaking with ‘elders’


4 mistakes to avoid when speaking with ‘elders’

We know we should approach each individual in a unique way. However, we can run into trouble when we slip into generalizing our communication style with older homeowners.

Several years ago I came across an excellent article in LifeHacker which I will summarize for the purposes of reflection and consideration. Can you improve your communication style? Let’s review the most common communication faux pas we can easily make.

#1. We treat them differently because they’re older

We don’t mean to, but sometimes we can unknowingly patronize our potential borrowers with childish phrases and intonation. “For example, we might use “sweetie” or “dear” or talk in a high-pitched voice. Such “elderspeak” is usually taken as an insult. It seems obvious, but you might not even realize you do it”, writes Mihir Patkar. Instead, speak in a normal down and avoid dumbing things down using an overly-simplified vocabulary. And whatever you do, don’t shout at them speaking loudly for no reason. 

#2. We overlook their challenges

There’s patronizing and then there’s accommodating. If someone is hearing impaired be sure to sit directly in front of them. Though we don’t think about it, much of our verbal communication is reinforced by the movement of our lips and the shape of our mouths.

#3. We forget they have something to offer us

Many, if not most, of my older borrowers, were smarter than me and possessed skills I had never acquired. Remember the person sitting in front of you is likely a young mind in an older body. Each year I’m reminded of this when I look in the mirror.  People are people with dreams, hopes, heartaches, successes, and failures- just like you.

Without patronizing we can show respect for their lifetime of experience and wisdom. This is a great opportunity to get to know their outlook on life and their personal finances. That insight can help you better determine how a reverse mortgage could fit into their long-term plan for retirement security.

Respect, understanding, and affirmation. Three things that we all want and should be mindful of when interacting with our elders. After all, you’ll be one before you know it.

#4. We don’t actively listen

There’s almost always a subtext to every conversation or meeting with a homeowner. If you’re alert and mindful you’ll hear it throughout your conversation. Homeowners often telegraph their true underlying motives of why they’re considering a reverse mortgage. If you aren’t actively listening you’ll likely miss the opportunity to solve one of their biggest concerns and potentially the sale.

Read the original Lifehack article here.


Editor in Chief: HECMWorld.com
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at HECMWorld.com, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at: info@hecmworld.com.

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