When you are dealing with a delinquent owner it is often helpful to understand the psychology behind the owner’s emotional behavior. There are four general behavioral categories:
The Grizzly Bear – the delinquent owner will be offended and on guard or unnecessarily aggressive during conversation about the unpaid assessments
The Chicken – the delinquent owner is either extremely cooperative or needy and submissive when discussing the unpaid assessments.
The Mole – the delinquent owner goes underground and exploits the system and uses it to undermine efforts to collect the unpaid assessments.
The Rabbit – the delinquent owner is chaotic & confused or may be passive & paralyzed, but is “incapable” of making any commitment to pay delinquent assessments.
To determine what type of behavior your delinquent owner may be exhibiting, you need to get the owner talking. There are three types of questions that will get them talking:
- Ask a behavior question, designed to give you a view of the owner’s attitude about being in debt. Make sure it allows for an open response. For example, “Has this obligation been weighing on you?” is a better question than “Do you know you are 9 months behind in your assessments?” Ideally you want the delinquent owner to access his or her subconscious and feel obligated to explain the situation which has caused them not to pay their assessments.
- Ask an environmental question, which will give you an idea about who else knows about or is involved in the financial difficulties being faced by the debtor. An example might be, “What caused you to fall behind in your assessments?” or “Help Me Understand How We Got Here?”
- Ask a skills question, designed to get you information regarding the owner’s job, qualifications, or ambitions, and follow up by telling them what you want (to resolve the debt). An example, you could ask “Will your job allow you to work overtime?” or “What type of work are you looking for?” in response to being told the owner has been unemployed the last 10 months.
At this point you should be able to identify certain behavior traits from the owner’s responses to your questions. Now, you just need to give them what they need. You have developed a good rapport with the owner by allowing them to talk and just listening. It is likely that they will be receptive to your ideas about how to help “manage” their situation with regard to their past due assessments.