Communicating with a Demonstrator About Financial Concerns
For a demonstrator, many financial issues are irritations that take time and energy away from what really matters: building relationships and discovering new experiences. To communicate about them with these topics, it helps to meet them where they are to avoid conflict whenever possible.
Demonstrators tend to hate paperwork, details, drudgery, and feeling locked in. In their working lives, they often took on roles where someone else handled the financial details for them, and outsourced most of their personal finances to an accountant, or to a more detail-oriented, introverted spouse. This can make finances a huge stumbling block as they age. Demonstrators resent restrictions on spending, dining out and socializing. They hate feeling as if the budget is hanging over them, ready to come crashing down on them at any moment.
And, for a demonstrator, it’s a very real, very painful struggle to turn down a social engagement or a vacation because he just doesn’t have the money. Add in a people-pleasing attitude that makes demonstrators especially vulnerable to scammers, and you have a crisis waiting to happen. As a loved one or caregiver to a demonstrator, you may frequently find yourself in the role of an anchor, remaining firmly planted in place while you keep your demonstrator from being carried off by the waves.
Discussing Financial Issues with a Demonstrator
Finances can be a source of stress for conflict-adverse demonstrators. They may feel oppressed by restrictions and struggle to stay within budgets and limits. While every person’s financial struggles are different, many of the challenges a demonstrator faces can be summed up by the following categories.
When you’re worried about scams and fraud.
The same traits that make a demonstrator everyone’s favorite neighbor can make him the perfect target for fraud. Demonstrators tend to be open, trusting, compassionate, and eager to help. When a fraudster homes in on a demonstrator, he uses these positive traits as weapons, and your loved one can become embroiled in a scam before you have time to intervene.
Maria noticed that her mother had been writing a large number of checks recently to a woman named Winnifred Kreigle. She didn’t know anyone by that name, so she asked her mother about it. “Oh, she’s a sweet lady I met on Facebook,” her mother said. “She’s been having a hard time. First her son died and she needed money to bring her grandkids to live with her. Then she needed to buy them school supplies. Then her husband had an industrial accident and lost his arm. Her car broke down that same day, can you imagine! I can’t help her with everything, but I send her what I can. She’s had a hard life and I have such a good one, how can I say no?”
Her mother’s account sounded odd to Maria, so she decided to do some online searching. As she suspected, Winnifred was none of the things she’d claimed to be. She was a twenty-something single woman who worked in coffee shop and had a degree in performance art. Maria had to break the news to her mother. “Mom, I love how you reach out to people and work so hard to help others,” she said. “But Winnifred is a scammer.” Her mother was shocked, and saddened. However, Maria encouraged her to redirect her impulse to help others by volunteering at and donating to the local soup kitchen, where she could help real people in actual need.
If they’re struggling to live within their means.
Demonstrators can find living on a fixed income especially challenging. They’ve retired, and they want to spend all their newfound freedom exploring and socializing, two things that had to take a back seat when they were in the workforce. Yet, just as they have the free time to drop everything and go on vacation, they might face a dramatic reduction in income. Your demonstrator may need help staying within a budget and planning for big, expensive entertainments while enjoying small, cost-free ones the majority of the time.
After her wife’s death, Carol struggled to live within a budget. Anna had been a thrifty homebody who carefully tracked every expense. Now, for the first time in 65 years, Carol had no one telling her what to save and what to spend. She went on cruises and bus trips, ate at her favorite diner at least once a week, and was constantly buying new hats, just because they’d caught her eye. Paulina kept an eye on her aunt’s accounts and she was startled to see how quickly she was using up her savings.
“Aunt Car,” she said, “you have got to stop spending. You could live another 10, 15 years. At this rate, you’ll be broke in two!” “Do you expect me to sit at home in an empty house, staring at the wall? I like to go places and see people. That costs money!” Paulina respected her aunt’s need to be forever on the go, but she also saw that she needed to be more careful about her budget. “Look. How about we plan one trip every two months? On the off months, I’ll take you to all the great free events in our area.” “There can’t be enough free things to keep me busy,” Carol said. “I like to go somewhere every day.” “Give it a try,” Paulina urged. “I’d be really happy if we got to spend more time together, and it would keep me from nagging you about your budget.” Carol, ever an adventurous people-pleaser, agreed to try Paulina’s plan for 6 months. By the end of the third month she’d forgotten that she’d ever been against it.
When you need to talk about estate planning and end-of-life-financial decisions.
No man is immortal, but a demonstrator sometimes seem to think he is. Demonstrators are focused on the great things that are likely to happen in their futures, which means that they’re unlikely to spend much time thinking about wills, insurance policies, and nursing homes. As a caregiver or loved one, you may have to push repeatedly to get them to make plans. The key is to keep the planning process as quick and painless as possible, so that your demonstrator can stop contemplating death and get back to living.
Haruka and her siblings were talking about their Aunt Michiko one day when they realized that they had no idea what would happen if she died. Michiko had lived with their parents for years, and now she was the sole surviving member of her generation. She lived in a small apartment, was active in her community, and was popular among others in her building, but the siblings had no idea if she wanted a funeral, where she would be buried, and if she had insurance to cover her final expenses. The sibling group delegated Haruka to get Aunt Michiko to commit to a plan so that they wouldn’t have to make difficult decisions in a time of grief.
The conversation began much as Haruka expected. “Aunt Michi? Can we talk about your funeral?” “My funeral! I’m not even sick. Let me get you a cup of tea. Do you like my new teapot? I won it at parish festival last week. First time in my life I’ve ever won anything, so I guess it’s time to buy a lottery ticket. Have you talked to your sister recently? I want to know more about that man she is seeing…”
Haruka tried in vain to gently shift the conversation back on topic, but her aunt wasn’t interested in end-of-life plans. Instead, she was talking about getting a cat. Haruka made a list of questions and began firing them at her aunt one by one. “Which funeral home will we use?” “That one your parents were buried out of was nice.” By asking concrete questions and focusing the conversation, Haruka managed to get a sense of the plans for Michiko’s funeral. She made copies for each sibling and one for her aunt so that if Michiko died unexpectedly, they’d be ready.
When they’re reluctant to make necessary expenditures.
Demonstrators often love to spend money—at least on entertaining. Your demonstrator is very likely to enjoy eating out, shopping with friends, and going on vacation. However, a demonstrator on a budget is very likely to avoid long-term, routine expenditures for boring things when there are so many immediate, enjoyable opportunities to spend money. Tasks like routine maintenance on the house can fall by the wayside as he prioritizes clubs, tours, and dinners out.
Lisette’s mother’s house needed work. The trim around the windows was in especially bad shape. “Mom,” she said, “we need to get those frames repainted. Otherwise, the wood is going to rot. When are you going to call a house painter?” Her mother shrugged. “It’s so expensive unless you get those people who do a really bad job. I’ll have to put some money aside for it and call when I’ve saved up.”
“Mom, that’s what you said last year and the year before that.” Lissette realized she’d have to make the experience fun if she wanted her mom to invest in the upkeep of her windows. “Mom, you don’t have to have them repainted white, like they were. You can get a really fun, welcoming color, something that will really make the house pop. Let’s go out and get some samples. The people at the paint counter may have some great advice for this style of house.” By the end of the next week, her mother had booked a painter and was looking forward to cheerful blue windows and trim.
When there are changes to established policies or previously fixed costs.
Demonstrators don’t like thinking about insurance policies and other fixed costs. After all, the point of a fixed cost is that it stays the same and you never have to think about it again. Since demonstrators like to ignore paperwork in favor of in-person relationships, they might not even notice a change until it’s big enough to spark a crisis.
Louis had scheduled his annual dermatology appointment for a Wednesday afternoon so Antoine, his son, could drive him. A skin-cancer survivor, Louis had seen the same dermatologist for over a decade. Antoine grabbed a cup of coffee at the building’s café and pulled out his laptop. His dad’s appointments tended to take a while, so he could work while he waited. 10 minutes later, Louis showed up in the café, clearly shaken. “Dad, what’s wrong?” Antoine asked. “They won’t see me. They said my insurance had changed and the appointment is no longer covered and they won’t see me. They’ve been seeing me for years!” Antoine could see the betrayal in his dad’s normally serene face. He didn’t bother asking if his dad had tried to argue with them about it. His dad never argued. He slipped his laptop back into his bag.
“Come on, Dad,” he said. “I’ll talk to them and help you get this settled. Even if we have to pay out of pocket today, it will be all right. I’m sure the doctor doesn’t know what his front office staff said.” Antoine talked to the billing manager and managed to get his dad in to see the doctor that day. Then he helped his father deal with the insurance company so that they could find out which dermatologists were covered and why his old doctor was no longer in-network. Antoine’s help in managing confrontations and detail-work helped his father navigate the situation and receive health care. Since it was currently just an annual appointment, Louis decided to pay out of pocket next year, unless the doctor ended up on his insurance again.
When they’re having trouble paying bills.
Demonstrators hate having to think about details and schedules, and they’re the kings and queens of “When I get around to it.” Paying bills requires them to sit down, focus on boring details, and have quiet for a little bit. For a people-oriented, highly energetic demonstrator, this is tantamount to torture. If you’re the caregiver to a demonstrator, bill-paying will be an issue. The key is to come up with a solution that works for your loved one, so that bills become a routine, but not a burden.
Selma’s father had always taken care of the family finances, so when he died, her mother, Nadeen, had a sharp learning curve ahead. Nadeen was awful at paying bills. She’d get them from the mail, throw them in a basket to be dealt with later, and then forget about them. Selma tried to help her out once a month, but there was just too much to sort through, and Nadeen didn’t want to think about them. She’d distract Selma with conversation, food, and sudden errands throughout bill-paying day, stretching what should have been a 1 or 2 hour task into an all-day ordeal.
Nadeen had always been suspicious of automatic withdrawals and scheduled payments, but Selma knew it was time to automate, before bill paying became a source of conflict and bad feelings in an otherwise good relationship. She decided to explain the change as a positive, exciting development. “Mom,” Selma said, holding up a postcard from the gas company. “Did you see this? They’ll automatically deduct payment once a month, and we’ll have more time to talk and have fun! I wonder which other bills can do that! It’s like having a secretary, but we don’t have to pay anyone!” Selma’s explanation, focused on positive results and more time for fun, convinced Nadeen that there was no reason to have monthly bills for regular expenses. What had been bill paying day became a fun day out exploring the city and surrounding country.
General Tips for Communicating with a Demonstrator
- Begin with a compliment.
- Gently redirect the conversation from tangents.
- Be spontaneous.
- Start with feelings.
- Focus on the big picture, save details for later.
- Work together on formal plans.
- Be prepared to move on quickly.
Trying to Get a Demonstrator to Focus on Finance? Stay Upbeat for Maximum Effect
While financial issues basically encapsulate everything demonstrators hate most, taking an upbeat, compassionate approach to them can help you get your point across to your demonstrator. Remember to accentuate the positive in every situation and to respect your loved one’s need for fun, adventure, and, most importantly, connections with other people.