My Proven Cleanse or Clog Method to Avoid Conflict and Enhance Connections



If you are like me, I love pizza. It is probably the best food on the planet. I wasn't surprised recently when a friend told me Americans eat 3 billion pizzas a year, spending a whopping $38 billion on this popular food.


I’ve been known to host a pizza night with family and friends to celebrate just about anything: a birthday, a graduation, an anniversary of some sort, and really any type of win. In addition, I’ve also been known to occasionally end a long, hard week with a mushroom, green olive, and peppercini pizza.


Life is a series of choices.


If you are indulging in your favorite foods too often at home, then are you also letting the habit of indulgence cross over into the workplace and how you work? Are you letting your team indulge in conversations that lead to conflict?


Conflict can occur in conversations when team members do the following:

  • Imply wrongdoing

  • Lecture and cite policies or

  • Are in attack mode that may trigger unwanted emotions

It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was much easier to bridge a connection by actively keeping the customer’s situation and experience in perspective. Instead of using words that may have been threatening with a consequence, I found using words with an empathetic approach was more soothing for both parties.


I trained my staff to imagine themselves in the shoes of the customer; provide solutions; and understand the emotions associated with the consumers’ anxieties and fears.


Well, I have some great news. You can do the same.


80/20 Rule:


I live by a concept I’ve coined “cleanse or clog.” It’s applicable at home, work and at play.


Every decision I make is either a “cleansing” decision or a “clogging” decision. When I make a small decision—such as what I’ll have for dinner—I’ll ask myself, “Will this meal cleanse or clog me?” If the answer is “clog,” I will decide whether or not I want to indulge at that moment or not.


And the way I navigate this technique is by using the 80/20 rule—80 percent of my decisions are “cleansing,” and 20 percent are “clogging.” The 80/20 rule goes beyond food. We can use it in our everyday consumer conversations as well. Let me explain what I mean.


I teach collectors a 3-step Communication Code, and I tell them to use the 3 steps on every call with every consumer. This is essential to promote consistency. We run into trouble when we keep using our strategy (even if it usually works) when the consumer isn’t responding well, and we need to pivot.


When this happens, your team can remember the 80/20 rule.


In other words, when the consumer isn’t responding well to your collector’s strategy, and they’ve run out of options, they can pivot and try something new. They have room for exceptions to their usual strategies 20 percent of the time.


Typically, a good pivot is to ask a question, such as:


“Are you intending to take care of this today?”


This question is effective because it allows a collector to determine what a consumer’s intentions are so they can either end the call or reverse engineer toward a solution.


When your team makes these pivots without worrying about sticking to their strategy 100 percent of the time, they’ll feel more equipped to handle challenges as they come up. Having a strategy is great because it can help you tackle most challenges; that said, having room for pivots is a necessary backup plan.


Pro Tip: Following company policy is a must. Make sure that when your team pivots, they still follow company policy and compliance rules.


Remember: If collectors fail to pivot when it’s necessary to move the conversation forward, the consumer could feel unheard, which could lead to the collector and the consumer entering the Conflict Zone.


Once the call is in the Conflict Zone, it’s extremely difficult to move toward a solution. So, try to focus on prevention by using critical thinking rather than focusing on de-escalation.

Imagine a Strategy that Teaches Collectors How to Make Pivots…


Well, this strategy already exists.


In The Collection Advantage, I teach collectors a 3-step communication strategy. I also teach other skill sets, including the critical thinking skills needed to turn around conversations as challenges come up.


I even have a lesson all about the steps to creating a roadmap during a collection call so collectors know what tools to use to think on their feet and address pain points in real-time to make sure consumers feel listened to and supported.


Does this sound like something you’d love to implement at your agency? We can make that happen. Book a free strategic planning session with me today, and we can brainstorm the best way to support your team through The Collection Advantage.




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