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Come to an Agreement with Debt Negotiation
Debt negotiation is a two sided theme. It can be viewed from the debtors and the creditors side, essentially both want the same thing, money. The debtor wants to owe less money, the creditor wants to get more money. Let's take a look at both sides of the coin.
What people fail to realize is, that if it comes to collecting debt (ie, something has gone wrong), creditors are prepared to get less money back. They want to make a profit, but they are willing to sacrifice some of it, in the hope that a judge doesn't have to be involved. The first and foremost thing is to communicate with the debt collector. He is a man doing his job and is probably looking to wrap it all up as quickly as possible. If you owe $4000 and you want to pay $2500, something like $3000 - $3500 is realistic enough. You don't have to show yourself as an overly honest man. Don't lie, just don't let on to everything, he's not going around telling you the minimum his company is willing to go for is he?
Most debt collectors, when meeting debtors adjust their style according to client. I don't mean that if he sees you're a shy guy he'll threaten you with a gun. If you are nice and willing to make the road less bumpy they will definitely be in a better mood and perhaps try to help you get a better deal. If you are aggressive and and all-round idiot they will not like you, in many cases debtors have more to loose, so I wouldn't suggest this tactic. Being nice and willing does not mean you have to lower your expectations of the deal though. You can still be firm, just be fair.
If you are working for a firm and have to go out to a debtor, how do you go about your business? Well, the same applies to you as above, but you have to be more tactical than that. It is probable that many people owe your firm money, and you are going to go out to more people than one. You can try and look at a global picture also to ease your work, if you know you are in for a few easy deals than you can go lower for the hard bargain. Always adjust your style to the situation and be firm, don't let the debtor think you are going to rub shoulders with him just because you're a nice guy.
Never look down on people just because they owe you (or your company) money. Who hasn't been there? I bet Bill Gates owed someone money once, imagine how a bad tempered debt collector might feel now? I grant you that not all debtors are good-natures, but many are honest people who are just trying to get by in life, you can at least give them the benefit of a doubt.