How Collectors Keep Their Mental Balance

The business of collections can be intense and stressful. But there are several simple ways to help you keep your mental balance, while still providing optimum service to both debtors and client creditors. Let’s explore a few of them:

How Do I Look?

Many of the most successful customer service reps keep a mirror on their desk, and it’s not to admire their own beauty.

Rather, it’s to remind themselves to smile. When you smile, the other party can hear it in your voice, especially at the beginning of the phone call. The reason for this is both psychological and physiological.

On the one hand, the very act of smiling changes your disposition for the better. It also changes the tone of your voice. Smiling raises the soft palate at the back of your mouth, resulting in more fluid sound waves, and a warm, friendly, receptive voice.

So be sure to periodically check your reflection during the course of a collections call. Do you look angry or tired? That will be conveyed in your voice! And while you’re at it, check your posture. Are you slouching? If so, you’ll be less attentive and alert.

Give It a Rest!

Taking frequent short (e.g. five-minute) breaks can increase your productivity and improve your ability to make decisions. [See box, “What Is Decision Fatigue?”] So stand up, stretch, walk around, grab a cup of coffee, or—even better—a bottle of water. Changing your environment, even briefly, helps your brain rest and switch gears.

You can also literally “take a breather” by deliberately inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply. Try focusing on just your breathing for 30 seconds.

Knowledge is Power

Nothing weakens your standing with a customer or debtor like having incorrect or insufficient information. So make sure your ducks are all in a row before you place a collections call. That way, you’ll be able to answer any questions they might have, as well as minimize the risk of misunderstandings.

What is Decision Fatigue?

At its basic level, “decision fatigue” is the deterioration of one’s ability to make good decisions after a long session of decision making.
In other words, the more decisions you make within a limited amount of time, the worse you’ll be at making them.
Taking short breaks throughout the day resets your capacity to make better decisions.

Source: Rescue Time

Obtain proper documentation from the creditor client before you place the collection call. When you and the debtor can review a bill together over the phone, it’s much easier to clear up any confusion the debtor may have. Simply explaining the details of an invoice often helps to resolve a debt.

And be sure to really listen to the other party with the intent of finding a solution. You can acquire a lot of valuable information just by being a good listener.

Keep a Cool Head

If the other party is angry and hot-tempered, it’s important to stay calm. To do otherwise would only reduce the chances of collecting on the account. Let the debtor vent and be sure to validate their feelings. (It also doesn’t hurt to apologize for anything you may have said that upset them.)

Then show them how devising a plan for repayment will help them feel better right away. Once the debtor realizes that the creditor and collector are not their enemies, they’ll be more receptive to paying off the debt.

If you do have a tense conversation with a debtor, be sure to take a short break and regroup before placing your next call.

A Few More Tips:

  • Eat light, well-balanced meals to avoid sluggishness, and maintain energy with healthful snacks.
  • Use a headset to keep both hands free and improve your efficiency.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing to maintain proper blood circulation to your brain.


Lou Figueroa, “Ten Tips for Keeping Your Mental Balance During Collections,” CreditBytes™ Newsletter.
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