In a crisis, use the language of empathy, not legalese

Here are two examples from recent headlines around banks processing federal stimulus payments that show the disparity between human connection and corporate blather.

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If your corporate policy is inflexible, cushion it with compassion.

In March, the federal government announced unprecedented news: It would give every American a stimulus payment of up to $1,200. Yet the check came with a catch. If you opted to have the money deposited into your bank account and your account is overdrawn, then your bank might keep part, or even all, of the payment to make up for your negative balance.

Leave aside for the moment whether this action is right or wrong. Instead, consider the diametrically different statements from two banks:

1. “Currently, a stimulus payment could be reduced when we execute legal garnishment or lien requirements. A reduction can also occur in circumstances when the stimulus payment is deposited into an account with a negative balance.”

2. “We are temporarily crediting the overdrawn amount for customers, giving them full access to their stimulus payment. We hope this gives them a chance to catch their breath.”

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