What communication skills help an agent serve callers many of whom have little understanding of tax regulations and some of whom have limited English proficiency?

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cawells1 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Communicating with people who have limited English speaking skills can definitely be quite challenging. Keep in mind that the caller may be experiencing the same frustration as you. With the few suggestions listed below, the call can be easy for both parties in the communication process.

As the communicator:

  • Do your best to listen carefully to your caller. Hearing the caller is one thing, but listening is a higher level. Effective listening skills will help isolate key points of the caller's conversation on which you may have to focus more detail in your explanation(s).
  • Speak slowly and precisely in a professional and reassuring manner to your caller. Refrain from interrupting the caller. Wait until he or she has finished with their question or statement.
  • Keep your responses simple, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification to verify what you think you heard the caller asking (e.g. “I want to clarify with you that you want to know how to answer tax question #15…”).
  • Think of yourself as a collaborator or partner in the communication process. Simply, you want to avoid ending the call with dissatisfaction that you did not do your best.

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