Don’t get defensive

Instead of responding defensively, ask these questions

A defensive response is a sure way to lose. Lose a political debate, a public presentation, or even worse your credibility.

Much of what has been presented in the media at large regarding reverse mortgages can easily put any HECM professional in a defensive position. Hysteria, fear, one-sided stories, and intentional omission all in the effort to emotionally trigger the reader. But don’t let yourself fall into their trap.

Reading Plato’s The Republic with a philosophy group has revealed some fantastic techniques how we can respond when challenged, accused or misunderstood. In The Republic Plato uses Socrates as his fictitious narrator. When pressed on a point of disagreement Socrates doesn’t become defensive but rather responds with a question- a technique that bears his name to this day, the Socratic method.

The same can be said of the wild accusations that the media have heaped upon the federally-insured reverse mortgage. Delinquent property taxes, unpaid homeowner’s insurance premiums, a spouse being forced to vacate who was not on the loan, and unsafe property conditions- each of these can trigger a ‘foreclosure’ with a traditional 15 or 30-year mortgage. That fact has been largely ignored by the media or buried 14 paragraphs into an article. Even worse, many who put themselves forth as a mortgage or financial ‘expert’ give the impression that such problems only plague reverse mortgage borrowers.

So the next time a financial advisor, banker, or potential borrower confronts you with a negative media story instead of becoming defensive instead try to ask one of these questions. Responding with a question instead of reacting shows strength and shifts the power back to the person asking the question.

  1. Do you know how delinquent property taxes are handled in a traditional mortgage?
  2. What do you think happens when the sole borrower dies and a person who is not named on a 30-year  mortgage loan lives in the home?
  3. What do you think a mortgage lender would do if a borrower lets the home fall into serious disrepair or fails to fix major safety issues?
  4. What do you think may happen if a homeowner chooses not to respond to several notices from their lender, county tax authority, or insurance company?

These are just a few ways how the use of questions can help a critic or fearful homeowner separate unfounded fears from fact in reverse mortgages. Remember, if you say it they will doubt you- if they say it, it’s true. Ask the question and let them say it instead.


Edward Frankel July 30, 2019 at 7:35 am

Shannon, excellent responses to debug the “Fake News”. Best.Ed

Shannon Hicks July 30, 2019 at 7:38 am

Thank you Ed. Too many journalists and media outlets continue to damage their own profession.

Owen Coyle July 30, 2019 at 8:34 am

Thanks for this information Shannon, it’s EXCELLENT. I will keep this in my briefcase, and also work on commiting them to memory.



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