It’s a problem everyone with some money faces from time to time: how do I turn down a request for money. No matter who you are, where you live, or how much you have, someone will inevitably ask you for money – and it can be quite awkward when the answer is no. Most of us have perfected the art of hanging up the phone when a sales man/marketer calls, but it gets harder when you’re approached by your alumni association, a favorite charity and family or friends. For those who struggle with the word “no” and fear hurting or angering someone, here are some tips on how to respond to a request for money to try.
How to Turn Down Requests for Money:
- Keep Your Response Short
- Don’t Be Ambiguous
- Respond Politely
- Say no, and be quick about it
- Your Responses Shouldn’t be Random
- Offer Something Else
- Offer Your Time Instead
- Be Nice
- Offer Some Advice Instead
1. Keep Your Response Short
If the request is from a close friend or family member, you may feel that you have to give a reason why you’re saying no. But as a rule, you don’t need to provide a lengthy explanation.
“You don’t need to explain or feel guilty, which is the motivation for long explanations that lead to engagement, and the unintended message that your arm can be twisted into making that gift or donation or loan,” says April Masini, an online advice columnist at AskApril.com. “Terse is clear. Rambling, circular responses are not.”
2. Don’t Be Ambiguous
Sometimes, in order to preserve people’s feelings, we do what’s called “the partial decline,” where we sort of, kind of, just maybe, still leave the gate a little bit open – even though we know we’re never going to do anything with it. That just leaves the other person in a state of limbo, unsure of what to do, but still feeling like there’s a chance.
3. Respond Politely
If you’re nervous about saying no, this won’t be a problem. But it’s good to keep in mind that there’s no reason to fly off the handle or make the person feel bad for asking for a loan.
“They just asked you for money, not a kidney or a sperm donation. Keep your perspective,” Masini says. If this request is from someone you know well, it may have been a big deal for the person to ask you for money – and quite possibly the last thing he or she wanted to do. Your friend may feel humiliated and agonized, which is all the more reason to keep perspective and be kind while you’re declining the request.
4. Say no, and be quick about it
It’s never easy to turn someone down, especially a well-meaning friend or organization. There are so many times when I know the answer is going to be no and I don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings, so I just ignore the request and don’t respond at all. Only, I’ve learned the hard way that doing this just makes you look really rude and leaves the other person with the false hope that you might just turn around and say yes. Just cut the cord as quickly as possible so everyone can move on.
5. Your Responses Shouldn’t be Random
If you help some friends and not others, some co-workers and not others, some local organizations and not others, without a rhyme or reason, it can make people feel arbitrarily rejected. While you don’t owe anybody a rationale for your decisions, I personally find it very helpful to sit down with my husband and map out what we feel comfortable giving our time and money to over the course of the next 12-18 months, and what we hope to get out of it. That way, when I have to turn people down, I can be really explicit about what I’m focusing on and why their project doesn’t make sense for me at the time.
6. Offer Something Else
If it’s easy to do so, maybe instead of money, you can offer to make an introduction for them that might be valuable, or you can offer up some services, or even just give some advice. This isn’t necessary, but if it’s a close friend or colleague, it’s a nice gesture.
7. Offer Your Time Instead
If your alumni association, a charity or a political party contacts you with a monetary request, you could instead offer to volunteer for the organization. Say you don’t want to donate money, but you’ll be glad to make phone calls like the one you just received.
And you can always give your time to a friend or family member. Perhaps you can clean their house or watch the kids while your friend goes to a job interview or spends time putting together a garage sale to earn money.
8. Be Nice
When you’re telling a friend or family member no, you should always be firm but never rude. I always try to be as kind as I can when turning people down; I never want to leave anyone with a bad taste in their mouth after an interaction with me, if I can help it. Sure, you’re the one with the upper hand now, because they are asking you for something – but you have no idea how life will play out, and when the roles might be reversed. It takes just as much effort to be nice as it does to be mean.
9. Offer Some Advice Instead
If a friend or family member needs money, and you can’t help but wish you could, you could suggest ways they could earn or raise money in a hurry. Even if you just bore or discourage the person, at least you’re showing that you care – just not quite enough to give up any cold hard-earned cash.
I definitely don’t have all the answers. I still feel way more uncomfortable saying no than I should. But one of my personal goals and resolutions is to get better about saying no effectively and to feel good about the exchange after I’ve said it. For some people, it’s easy to say no. They don’t give it a second thought. They don’t lose sleep at night; however, if you’re like me, and you tend to agonize over saying no to the point that it’s all you can think about, then hopefully these suggestions will help you say no as gracefully as possible.