As a competent and experienced attorney in the industry, you know all too well that bankruptcy is an interesting concept – lasting an indeterminate amount of time based on each individual case and their variants. Sometimes it sneaks up on people without them realizing it; other times they feel themselves standing frozen in its headlights as it moves towards them in slow motion, clear for all to see. Yet despite these differences, every bankruptcy filer experiences the same emotions: fear, panic, stress, anger, sadness, and then…relief.
Yes, the cycle of bankruptcy is all too common. To the bankruptcy attorneys out there, paying particular attention to this could put you one step ahead of your competitors. Being aware of the emotions your clients are experiencing enables you to most effectively cater to their needs. This makes happy customers, which means a good reputation for your bankruptcy law firm, leading to a successful business = smiles all round!
So, let’s get cycling!
Step 1: Fear– “What am I going to do? I can’t file for bankruptcy; everyone will think I am a failure and it’s going to be so stressful, it’s going to be on my record forever and stop me from ever moving forward. Everyone will look at me differently.” The regular readers of this blog will know our sentiments on this: a bankruptcy is not a failure! It also does not define your successes in the future. Many rich and famous celebrities have even filed for bankruptcy, and went on to experience great success after their filing. Remind them that bankruptcy is not the end; it is the beginning of their new stress-free financial future.
Step 2: Panic– “I am struggling; I have NO choice but to file. This is really happening to me! What am I going to do?!” We wrote several posts on authors to inspire your clients through bankruptcy, featuring Roald Dahl, George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, A. A. Milne, Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson, Jane Austen and Stephen King. These posts were written with your clients in mind, to ease the panic involved in the bankruptcy process and the discharging of their debts. Advise them to take a look, and see if they are put at easy by any of the sentiments mentioned in our writing.
Step 3: Stress – “How am I going to get through this? There is so much to think about and prepare, I don’t know how I can manage all of this on my own.” Now is a great time to let your clients know that they can do this. Inform them that they have already taken the most important step in the right direction, and that their bravery has not gone unnoticed. Remind them that they are not alone, and you are there to help guide them through every step of the bankruptcy process.
Step 4: Anger– “I can’t believe I got myself into this mess, I’m so angry at myself.” Dear bankruptcy filer…despite feeling overwhelmed at this point, all is not lost. Remind them that, and emphasize that they should never regret anything they once did, because it felt right at the time. Concentrating on their regrets and being angry with themselves is only wasted energy, and they need to be made aware of this. It is time to look forward and think about the changes they want to make, going forward.
Step 5: Sadness– “I’ve never felt so low; this is really bringing me down.” It can be tempting for clients to partake in a moment of self-pity after being bitten by the bankruptcy bug; and it is up to you to help pull them out of it. Remind them of the importance of taking care of themselves, and to not let their emotions take over at this point.
Step 6: Relief– “It’s over. I did it. Thank goodness.” Prepare for tears of relief, and congratulate them on their strength. Perhaps recommend they send a letter to their former self – such a method of self-recognition is great for stress relief, and is a reminder of how strong they proved themselves to be, in proactively trying to right their financial wrongs during such a difficult time. And as the whole process is over, perhaps offer them some advice on budgeting and how to repair and rebuild after filing.
Of course, taking individual differences into account, there will be many cases where your clients experience these emotions in different orders, often repeatedly and for varying durations of time. But so long as you are equipped with the knowledge of the how’s and why’s when dealing with them, you are still giving yourself the best possible chance to succeed. Remember our blog post on the superheroes of bankruptcy? That’s you! You can further enhance your superhuman powers by giving your clients a head-start in the race against bankruptcy – refer them to an EOUST-approved provider of Credit Counseling and Debtor Education, to enable them to get on the right path to discharging their debts.
That way, they can get through their financial distress with minimal upset – and you can hang your bankruptcy attorney superhero cape up at night with satisfaction, knowing you did the best job you possibly could in helping your clients through an incredibly trying time in their lives.