A Thinking Man

What Men May Want to Know

Demand For Payment

By Don Wright

I screwed up. I wasn’t paying attention to my business account and funds became short. Many of us have had that happen. No big deal.

But while my attention is elsewhere, a debit goes through my account for the Florida Department of Revenue, Unemployment Tax. It’s automatic, my accountant initiates the transaction. The amount due is rejected which I find out a few days later when I check the account. Crap. A quick note to the accountant about how to make it right results in me firing off a check. Problem solved.

The astute readers among you are thinking, there’s going to be penalties of some kind – and you’re right. A couple of days later I receive a letter. At the top of the page it reads;


In further reading, there’s a returned check fee (of course there was no check, it’s all electronic debit) of $15.00 in addition to the original amount due, which is already on its way.

But the silly thing about it is this. The language used throughout the document is brutal and intimidating. Threats of turning it over to a collection agency, filing a tax warrant, referring your account for criminal prosecution. And the angry and authoritative words chosen; notified, immediately, evidence, activity, jeopardy, monies, dishonored, timely, just to pick out a few.

Really? Is this type of literary browbeating justified?

I get it. There’s the argument that some will not respond to kind language. They might not get the response they’re looking for if the letter was a plea to please send in the money when or if you get a chance – we sure could use it. But what is that percentage of people who would ignore it otherwise? It can’t be that high because if it were, the system simply wouldn’t have enough funds to function. Of course many “authorities” don’t have enough funds to function now, but that’s not because people owe but don’t pay. It’s because of over-spending.

But at the root of this exercise is the underlying issue. I feel that the controls we impose upon each other are self-fulfilling. We use authoritative language and measures on the populace because we think they’ll resist conforming otherwise. There’s no realization that the resistance comes from the methods and language used to begin with. We’ve all seen it. We’ve all endured it.

We see it at the DMV. We see it in any city, state or federal office. We see it at our banks. In any contact with the IRS. The list is almost endless. All using the same belittling authoritative language, rules and measures. We’ve seen it in business too.

It’s all about control.

But, there’s a shift coming. Businesses that are successful are now catching on to the power of presenting a different face outward and inward. Passion and compassion.

We are going to see these methods and tactics fall out of favor in the coming decades. There won’t be a need for it. People will wake up to the fact that they don’t want to be treated poorly and that will mean a self-realization that they must treat others with compassion and respect.

The take away is this. If you’re in a position where you are making policy, consider alternative tactics and language. We all know that if you can win over someone’s heart and mind, the results are greater than any results that are begrudgingly given. Instead of belittling and forcing people down, encourage and lift up. The results will be more in tune with universal values and more often than not, amazing.

Be the solution you seek.

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