Guest contribution by Dr. Joti Samra
Q: I lent money to a friend in trouble – a year has passed and although he’s now got his feet back on the ground, he’s not brought up paying me back. How can I ask for my money back?
A: There is some wisdom in the old adage that money and friends don’t mix. More often than not, mixing the two can create rifts in a friendship and add an awkwardness that wasn’t there before.
In your situation, you did what a good friend does – in fact what a great friend does: You supported your friend when he needed it. However, he has a responsibility to now respect you by paying you back. The best way to approach him is clearly and directly.
Here are some tips you can follow when making your request:
Describe the past situation: “You may remember that in [month/year] I lent you [x dollars] when you had called and let me know you were in a jam. I really wanted to help you out, so was happy to do so. I know you’ve gone through a lot since that time, and I am really happy that you are getting back on your feet again.”
Describe your current situation (not necessary but it may help to give context): “I’m in a position now where I need that money back.”
Make your request (be specific, and provide timelines): “So, I need the full amount of what I lent you back, ideally by the end of the month.”
Be reasonably flexible and allow your friend to respond: “I realize that this is likely not something you were planning for. What are your thoughts on being able to get the full amount back to me within that time period?”
Then negotiate a reasonable resolution that is acceptable to both of you. Be specific. Ask yourself what you are willing to accept and convey that clearly to your friend. For example, if you need the money within the month and he proposes to pay you six months down the road, let him know that won’t work for you and why. Tell him that you do not want money to get in the way of your friendship and that you are hopeful you can arrive at a resolution that works for both of you. Do not apologize (as that dilutes the request) and do not be overly wordy.
If your friend is not willing to give your money back or work to get it to you within the limits he has, unfortunately, it may be that you just have to learn a very valuable lesson from this and decide how, or in what capacity, you want to keep this friend in your life moving forward.
Reminder: UBC Staff and Faculty have access to a number of health related prevention services through the Employee and Family Assistance Program. Staff and faculty who are enrolled in UBC’s extended benefits plan also have $1,200 coverage per year to see a Registered Psychologist.
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational and media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” and was the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s “The Bachelor Canada”. She has also served as a psychological consultant and expert to a number of other TV shows and news outlets. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra.
This article is adapted from an article Dr. Samra wrote for The Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/my-friend-borrowed-a-bundle-from-me-how-do-i-get-him-to-pay-it-back/article4455928/)