C-19 negotiations – ACCEPT the need to negotiate, with Debtors

Part 1 Negotiating during C-19 – ACCEPT the need to negotiate, with Debtors

This is an adapted transcript from a series of videos I created to help people with practical advice to negotiate during the challenging times we’re currently facing due to COVID-19 – the VLOG can be viewed on LinkedIn HERE


In this crazy world that we’re living in, I am struggling just like a lot of other people to work out how do I actually practically help people. So, what I’ve decided to do is take what I know from a strategic perspective and deliver that in a series of short videos that can help you with practical implementation for immediate impact.

It’s very sad and trying times, and if you overlay that with the fact that most people hate negotiating, I can’t imagine the trauma that some people are going through at the moment on that front. To that end, I’m also open to having zoom calls discussions with anybody if there’s something specific that I can help you with. Please do reach out.

I’m sure you’ve had to have a lot of discussions that have made you feel very uncomfortable at the moment and well done if you’ve actually delivered those, because it is such challenging experience and one that we don’t relish at all, particularly if it’s about having to let people go.

For those not comfortable with negotiating I wanted to start with a focus on what’s the first step – that is simply to ACCEPT that you will make a [series of] phone or video calls to start the negotiation ball rolling.

How do we actually get to a place before we can go and have the negotiations that we need to have at the moment. To be in a position to ACCEPT you have to do this, it helps to know the actual position you are in.


A focus on debtors

I’m going to focus on debtors – take out a big piece of paper or whiteboard and lay out the actual current position.

  • who are all the people that you owe money to, and
  • who have to pay you,

This is the reality, the current position.

So for the people that have to pay you, called each of them and see where are we at. Ask them,

  • “Where are you at? What are you experiencing right now?”

Now making those phone calls can be terrifying because the outcome can mean that you can pay your bills or not pay your bills. But, knowing is better than guessing. So I think one of the things for you to take away from this is – please accept that you are going to have to make some of these phone calls that are not comfortable, but if we’re open to them then people can actually solve problems together which is really the fundamental on how we’ll all get through this.

By talking and working together there might be a hybrid solution – rather than ‘yes or no’. There might be a way to keep working together on a lesser amount, or working on something else (skills transfer), rather than winding things down altogether.

So, just know that, yes, you have to have these conversations, but it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it feels from the outset, particularly if you hate negotiating. It is likely that you’re not going to have to do a lot of negotiating at the moment, we just need to have the gumption and back ourselves that we can make the phone calls, the rest is about working together to find a solution (as we’re all in this together).


How much can you deal with each day

On that point, we really need to take care of our mental health and capabilities so please make sure that once you have a picture of what the actual position is, that you prioritise the discussions you have to have. Check in with yourself and talk to your network of people who can help you, or reach out to me and my team for support.

Determine how much you can handle, if you have to have three conversations today. How can you be ready to make those calls or have those discussions or can you just do one of them first and check in with yourself then go from there.

Before you make those calls or have those conversations, know that if it’s with big institution most of them are in a position now where they’ve got information on their website to help you know what to expect from the discussion.

So, if it’s a bank, telco, electricity company, etc, etc, then it’s likely that they already have it laid out for you. Now if you have to make the phone call that follows that up, then it’s about. Yes, you need to ACCEPT that you will make that call but once you get there, whilst it’s a bit clunky because people don’t have their systems and processes and training done, so it’s not as neat and tidy scripting as we have become used to, BUT it won’t be a hard and heavy negotiation.

For example, with my bank they’ve laid out on their website that this is the interest rate that they’re going to drop to, these are the terms of business loans, etc, etc. And then the information I’ve been able to get from my accountant, as an extra overlay, that has given me the confidence to make them phone calls and say “right, I’ve read everything, now what do I actually have do to, to make that change happen”.



Ensuring you give yourself some time to think and accept the task you have ahead of you, will give you greater confidence, and help keep you calm when taking the first step.


Good luck!


About Sam Trattles – Sam has built a career around negotiation – through marketing, brand, and sponsorship roles over 20 years. She builds capability and confidence in your people by creating strategies that deliver positive business results. Unlocking the value in all your deals. Sam is a straight shooter, she is practical and likes to share her knowledge to help others learn to love negotiating (or to at least, not to hate it). Because it’s worth a great deal.

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