Dear Crabby, 

I’m the credit and collection manager at a mid-sized fragrance manufacturer and like many managers, beyond the usual credit and collections challenges, I also deal with a myriad of human relations issues. 

So, it’s that time of year again when our team is getting ready to dress up and enjoy being children for a few hours at our company Halloween party. Over the years, I’ve been pretty much hands off on what members dress up as but last year I was a bit uncomfortable when a few of them dressed up as “debtors.” One person in fact had put a sign around his neck that said, “My name is Delinquent Account, what’s yours”? And another person put together a costume as a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy notification. 

Albeit these costumes might be considered creative, fun, and humorous, I personally feel they have become inappropriate. Some of our good customers have fallen on hard times due to the pandemic and their financial plight is no fault of their own. 

Subsequent to sending out an email to my team asking them to refrain from wearing costumes and bringing accessories that depict financial distress of our customers, I was surprised at the blowback in which a couple of them felt I was way too serious and taking the fun out of our Halloween party. 

In my view, I just don’t like the idea that our fun should be at the expense of those who may have considerable difficulties.

Your thoughts would be much appreciated. 

Signed: Mocking Is Unacceptable

Dear Mocking,

Times have changed and they will keep on changing. What was funny many years ago towards several kinds of people and situations, is no longer acceptable. Although some people will always view certain decisions as being too serious, you clearly understand that there’s a sensitivity that should respected.

One thing you may want to address to your team members, especially those who have vocalized their disappointment, is that mocking or parodying those who are in any kind of difficulty is a value that is unacceptable in your workplace. In addition, a climate of mocking might lead to abusive communication between them and your past due customers. 

With all of the costume possibilities out there that are creative, fun, and safe, just stick to your policy. I’m sure that for a few hours your team members will still have a great time at being a Disney character. 

Dear Crabby is a credit, collection, and human resources advice column by Nancy Seiverd President CMI Credit Mediators Inc. Your thoughts and comments (nseiverd@cmiweb.com) are most welcome!

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