You may not know this about me but I’m generally the type of person who loves a good joke and enjoys gently teasing people. I especially try to cheer people up in the office when they’re feeling a little blue by making a funny face (you have to see it to appreciate it). Generally, my jokes and teasing go over well but depending on the person and situation, I do get that “Oh brother!” response.
A couple of weeks ago when I was on a call with a debtor, who sounded very positive while making a promise to pay in full by the end of the month, I quipped, “Wonderful. It’s so nice when I don’t have to send my Rottweiler over to collect.” Well, unfortunately that bit of humor fell completely flat and the debtor called my manager to say that she felt a little intimidated by my joke. I was only trying to have a little fun with a situation that is normally not considered to be light and fantastic.
The problem is that I suppose I misunderstood the debtor’s upbeat and cooperative disposition during the call. Since my nature is to be a little bit of joker, I thought I could also be flexible with our communication.
As my attempt at humor didn’t work out, my manager gave me some things to think about for my future calls.
- Although there may be an occasion when humor could lighten up a tense situation, it’s better to reduce the tension by remaining very polite and maintaining a professional tone.
- Sometimes humor, even if it is well received, could give the impression or send the message that the debt is not a serious matter.
- A debtor may even respond with humor of their own, taking advantage of the situation to derail the collection communication and delay payment.
- Even with all good intentions, the humor might turn into a legal matter which no one needs to deal with these days.
So, I’ve learned that I better put my joking and teasing aside when I’m doing collections and leave it for my future stand-up comedy routine.
Hector the Collector is a credit and collection advice column by Nancy Seiverd President CMI Credit Mediators Inc. Your thoughts and comments (firstname.lastname@example.org) are most welcome!
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