How to Talk to People Who Don’t Understand the Foreclosure Crisis… if You Absolutely Have to.
And you do… absolutely have to, I mean. It’s important because until more Americans come to understand what’s really going on in this country today, we’re not going to be able to stop it. And until we stop it, we’re going to continue our race to the bottom. And it’s going to be increasingly painful… for everyone. Eventually, everyone will understand what’s happened, but sooner would be better than later.
So… it falls to we that do understand the gravity of the situation to bring the others along.
With that in mind, and because I spend a couple of hours each day in some form of this chess game, I thought I could possibly help by identifying the types of people that are out there.
This is the guy who’s well meaning enough, and he’s tried to understand some of what’s going on, but he’s just not bright enough to wrap his head around the many moving parts. Every time you talk with him, and think you’re making progress, he opens his mouth and shows you that when you mentioned “Bonds,” he was thinking “Barry”.
How to Deal With Him: What this guy knows about accounting wouldn’t allow him to balance a Christmas Club account, so you want to give information slowly to a guy like this. Make sure he’s making connections before you try to introduce anything new. He’s got no formal educational background specific to economics or accounting, so he’s going to struggle with even the most basic concepts. Plus, he’s not entirely sure that a committee of rich Jews doesn’t actually run the world.
Q. Why are people losing their homes? A. Who?
The Liar’s Liar
This guy lies. All the time. He doesn’t know whether he believes what he says, and really doesn’t care one way or the other. He’s going to say whatever he’s paid to say… or feels like saying… that’s it and that’s all. Did I mislead you? Oh well. I never said that. He’ll lie about anything too. Make up numbers… whatever it takes. Almost nothing he says has value, and he can poison a well in a nanosecond.
How to Deal With Him: Listen to see what he’s telling others, but that’s about it. He’s not someone you’re going to change… he’ll come around once everyone else has, and then claim to have been on board the whole time. In fact, he may end up saying that he was on board before you were… and that his uncle invented Credit Default Swaps.
Q. What’s the cause of the current crisis? A. Greed.
The Hopelessly Misled
This guy has allowed his mind to absorb too much information from too many sources, without adequate filtering or without verifying whether any new thinking was accurate and true. The result is that he’s trying to follow the story of what’s happening today, but he’s got some positively goofy misperceptions that continually derail him from getting it right once and for all.
How to Deal With Him: Try pressing this guys re-set button. You’re going to have to shock him up front in order to get his attention, but after that he’ll at least try to act like he’s picking up kernels of truth. The problem is, the next time you run into him, he’ll be reciting whatever he heard on talk radio that morning.
Q. When will the economy turn around?
A. They were saying on the news that it already has.
The Just Doing My Job
This guy may or may not believe what he says, but he says things convincingly. He sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, but truth be told, he’s just reciting and recycling the lines he’s written in his head. Get to know him a bit, and you’ll see a much broader individual.
How to Deal With Him: He may want to know the truth of the situation, so give him a chance. It’s unlikely that he reads much; it’s just too much work. But, send him a YouTube link and he’ll memorize it word for word. Stay on him and he just might get it someday.
Q. How’s the economy doing? A. Hyper-inflation is right around the corner.
The No Choice But to Believe
This guy has a lot of money in the market, or rather he used to, and he never sold out of his positions. He’s got shares that are down by 50% or more, but he’s holding on and waiting for them to “come back”. He simply has no choice but to adopt his chosen point of view… if he’s wrong, he’s totally screwed… and who wants to think that?
How to Deal With Him: This guy watches CNBC way too much. He buys stocks based on what Jim Cramer has to say, so he’s still not sure whether to unload Bear Stearns warrants. He’s seven payments behind on the triplex he bought at the peak of the housing market, but he’ll talk about it… because it’s going to come back… soon.
Q. Are you worried about markets going forward?
A. Heck no. This is just an opportunity to buy.
This is the guy who, while maintaining a straight face, sees the crisis as being largely exaggerated and mostly over. Yeah, some people are still losing homes, but that’s only because they should be. This guy doesn’t see the problem, which means he doesn’t want to. If you want to move him, you better make it personal, because if it’s not affecting him directly, he’s not paying attention.
How to Deal With Him: Start bringing up the companies that are laying off professionals, and then bring up an example of how low home prices have already dropped in a neighborhood just like his… better yet, in his neighborhood.
Q. Is this a recession or a depression?
A. Neither… it’s just a normal market correction.
The Politics Only
This guy knows a reasonable amount the subject matter, but he only cares about the political implications. He knows how many people are losing their homes and how much that number has grown… but only because he sees a direct link to a future political success. Will it help Obama win or lose in the future is all he’s interested in, so nothing is ever happening now.
How to Deal With Him: If this guy is pro-Obama, and he is, start talking about how bad things will be getting next year… then bring up the commercial real estate numbers… and finally throw in the devaluation of the dollar that will soon push gas prices over the $5 mark.
Q. Aren’t you worried about the foreclosure crisis?
A. Once Obama fixes health care, it’ll be fine.
The Willing Student
In some situations, the guy who’s ready and willing to go to school is always someone you can work with, but there’s a lot of catch up to do at this point, so he’d better get on with it. The situation related to this country’s meltdown is bizarre at best, so it’s not like reading an article or two will do it.
How to Deal With Him: Don’t give this guy any slack. Hit him with both barrels every time you interact. Email him links to article after article… although nothing too long or complicated. Just don’t expect him to be afraid of anything in the future, because he’s so busy trying to understand the past that he’s never going to catch up.
Q. What are you doing to plan for the future? A. I’m not sure what to do.
The Completely Uninformed
This guy, one would have thought, has largely become extinct by now, but no. Once in a while, maybe one out of 20 or something like that, there’s a guy who’s new to our national meltdown. He’s been busy and doesn’t watch much television or use a computer regularly, unless he’s booking your ticket at the JetBlue counter. If you hook his interest, he’ll learn quickly and perhaps become a real asset.
How to Deal With Him: Give this guy something to grab onto and he’ll ride it all the way to the beach. One thing at a time though, and make the early tidbits unforgettable and easy to digest. Layoffs are a good place to start, especially if they’ve occurred in his industry. Then remind him of what happened the last time things went wrong.
Q. Can you believe 3.6 million foreclosures this year?
A. No, really? How many in this country?
The Brains of the Operation
This is the guy who’s got a handle on the technical aspects of the crisis, a really solid handle. He uses the numbers and the textbook rules to come on strong, like there’s nothing he doesn’t know… but he’s missing many of the behavioral components that so often rounds things out. Regardless, technicians are always useful to have around.
How to Deal With Him: Start talking about the numbers and you’re dead so hit him with the personal tragedies first. He’s comfortable with numbers, but he’ll tear up over the 76 year-old grandmother who was given two days to move out of her house.
Q. How does next year look?
A. Not that bad. The fundamentals are solid.
The Perspective Challenged
This is the guy with the decent understanding of the situation, but only from a single perspective. He doesn’t realize it, but he’s close to really getting it, but in order to get there he has open his mind to how the same set of facts can lead to different conclusions when seen by different people. He’s got his own perspective down pat, but he’s missing the rest of the 360-degree view. Open his mind, however, and he’ll soon see.
How to Deal With Him: Draw out examples of people who did nothing wrong, but were devastated by the meltdown. Then cover the amounts shoveled into banks to keep them afloat. Round it all out with the story of a rich guy who’s now parking cars at the Anaheim Marriott.
Q. What should government do to stop foreclosures?
A. There’s nothing they can do.
The Practical to a Fault
This guy wants to know the actionable information so he can make use of it immediately. This is a guy with nothing in his in-box most of the time, because he gets things done. You want to keep this guy up to speed at all times, or at least when there’s important information that’s come out recently.
How to Deal With Him: Whenever you give this guy a fact to chew on, make it unsolvable… he hates unsolvable things. Talk about Japan, or the Bear Market that lasted from 1966 to 1982.
Q. What should we do about the banks?
A. Take them over, well… I guess we can’t… um
The Arrogance of Certainty
This guy has known what’s up as related to our economic meltdown all along. In fact, anything he has bothered to listen to to-date has only confirmed what he already knew. He saw the visual evidence of the big homes and jet skis in the garages and he knew all he needed to know. All you can hope here is that you like this guy for other reasons. Try to talk about other subjects.
How to Deal With Him: Ask this guy questions about complex subjects and don’t talk… give him plenty of time to answer. And when he does, ask him to drill down further, and further still. When he tries to hand the ball to you, ask him another question he has to struggle to answer.
Q. What should we do about the economy?
A. Let the failures fail. We’re prolonging it now.
The Conspiracy Theorist
We all know this guy, right? He’s got it all figured out, the only problem is that when you put it all together not only does it make no sense, but it would require that cats and mice learn to love each other and every member of the media agrees to keep things quiet. Other than that, this guy’s ideas are solid.
How to Deal With Him: Whatever you do, if you have to engage this kind of person, at least make sure it’s not over drinks stronger than ice tea. And have an exit plan. You know… like maybe you left your full-grown Rottweiler, Magnum, locked in your bedroom with a five-pound box of chocolates on the dresser. The kind of thing that’s hard to argue with, if you know what I mean.
Q. What’s going on in this country today?
A. It’s all part of the master plan, you know that.
The Paranoid Prognosticator
We’re doomed no matter what. Even if things get better economically, there will probably be nuclear war in the Middle East… and if that doesn’t happen, then Global Warming will melt the icebergs thus turning Tennessee into the eastern seaboard. Absent any of that… there’s always cancer. For this guy, things are never looking up.
How to Deal With Him: Okay, so people like this are sometimes good for a laugh, I’ll admit. They watch espionage on television and wonder if a satellite is watching them whenever they use their cell phones. Always remember though… just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean everyone’s NOT after you.
Q. How do you feel about people losing their homes?
A. Probably the best thing that could happen.
The Monetarily Myopic
This guy is expert in all things money. Everything is money. Money is everything. He also assumes that everyone in the world also thinks pretty much like he does. When he sees a nice car he says, “Nice, I wonder what that baby cost?” The Lakers won the championship game? “Wow, I wonder how much Kobi Bryant makes per second?”
How to Deal With Him: The problem with telling this guy anything is that he makes all of his decisions based on the dollars today or next week. Work towards something is working for free, and then you’ll probably get screwed for your money… then you’ll have to hire a lawyer and that’ll cost a pretty penny. It can get pretty boring after a while.
Q. What should we do about foreclosures?
A. Sell them. Short sale. Cash-for-Keys.
That’s All Folks…
Well then… I hope that helps. It’s an important job we all have to do. And time is of the essence. Next year we’ll hold the most important mid-term election in my lifetime. Everyone in the House of Representatives is at risk of NOT being reelected next year. We have to send a message. And it’s going to take everyone’s help.
Perhaps you’ve bumped into other types of people out there, and if so… please write in and I’ll add them to the list under your name.
Be careful out there.