The image demonstrates poor and outdated communication tactics

Yes, there are GOOD debt collectors! 

“Debt Collector”: The name conjures up visions of an agressive, rude and obnoxious caller who harasses and threatens you relentlessly at all hours of the day and night. 

Well, that’s only the dark side of the moon. There’s a brighter side. 

I just came back from Collector.Live! 2020 in Atlanta, a national educational forum for professionals in the collection industry. As one of the many featured speakers at this event, I had been asked to give a short talk on the voice and its importance in communication. And let me tell you, there is a whole different kind of debt collector out there. These are actually good people who are motivated to make debt collection an honorable profession. 

You heard me – an honorable profession. I know, you might be rolling a cynical eye, but hear me out. 

These collectors have made it their vocation not only to collect debt, but to help consumers resolve it. Of course, we won’t deny that monetary gain is involved, but it’s the approach and mindset around it that were interesting to me.

To give you an idea, several of the talks at the forum revolved around the main tenets of effective communication, such as:

  • Active listening
  • Asking questions
  • Showing empathy and compassion
  • Being assertive, yet respectful
  • Presenting options

It was evident that the collectors who presented at the forum were passionate not only about helping consumers, but also about sharing tools with each other.  Other presentation topics that stood out were respectful negotiation skills, self-awareness and how to avoid being drawn into negativity. Useful information for any industry, really. 

What’s more, the most successful collectors go out into the community and share their experience, such as teaching financial literacy in colleges to prevent the pernicious rise of personal debt in the first place. 

Granted, there are infamous collectors who spoil the collection industry’s reputation with their reprehensible communication tactics. But there also exists the honest collector who’s just trying to do the best they can. ( And did you know there are some equally shady consumers out there who use the system to bait callers and sue collection agencies for their own benefit? That was an eye-opener for me).

So, the next time a debt collector calls, give them the benefit of the doubt, as well as a chance to negotiate with you the best possible outcome for all. Set the mistrust aside and leverage the potential of a productive conversation.

Great communication skills are essential in today’s multi-faceted business world. And as the need for them spills over into seemingly unrelated fields, we all become mutually grateful beneficiaries. If debt collectors are willing to take their communication skills to the next level, so can we.

February 2, 2020

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