There’s an awkward silence, a lot of hesitation, pauses and a looming atmosphere of dread about the whole thing.
I’ve seen this plague students, friends, and relatives – even managers. Many people have feel strange when it comes to this exchange; they deliberately side-step uncomfortable conversations about money. They hide behind their keyboards as they use bold words like ‘DUE’ and ‘CHARGE,’ to unanswered e-mail chains, but never call or ask them in person.
We’re not referring to talking about how much you earn, or sharing how much you pay for rent [that’s a whole different ‘taboo’ topic]. This article is for when someone owes you money, money negotiations, and delays in payment.
Whether it’s in your professional or personal life, being able to talk about money with ease and confidence will help you immensely in keeping your finances straight.
No worries – you aren’t the only one. Many people find it a sensitive topic to broach.
“Even though I’m providing a service for the payment, when it comes to asking for money from my clients, I find myself feeling hesitant and uncomfortable – like I’m asking them for something I don’t deserve,”
a Yoga Instructor recently confided in me.
While the conversation is tricky in professional situations, it gets trickier when you’re asking for money you’re owed from friends or family. Here are 5 ways you can become more comfortable saying ‘You better have my money’:
1. Observe people who are confident negotiators
You can pick up a lot of tricks just speaking to someone or watching them negotiate on the phone. Confide in a colleague, friend or family member you know is confident navigating sensitive conversations.
It is likely that they approach the topic in a skilful manner, use diplomacy and come to a middle ground.
Here are some useful tips I’ve picked up from watching my talented ex-manager that will get you off to a good start:
- Have a rough idea of what your objective is [getting a date for payment, following up on collection] and script it before you make the call or go into the meeting/outing.
- Meditate on the different responses you are likely to be faced with [We can’t pay right now, we’re busy, let me get back to you, or even complaints].
- Prepare your rebuttal or negotiation point.
- Always, even if you have a queasy feeling in your stomach, get a follow-up date [shall I check with you next week?].
Here’s a science-backed 5-point guide on how to: Appear More Confident Than You Feel
2. Understand and absorb the idea of money exchange
If you’ve performed a service, you DESERVE to be paid. If someone has borrowed money from you, you deserve to be repaid. Remind yourself of this before you have the ‘pay-up’ conversation. It proves to be a good boost.
Most of us feel like we can’t broach the subject for fear of being perceived as money-obsessed or for fear of ruining a relationship. For the sake of your long-term financial health, ensure that you keep accounts and get back the money you have earned.
3. Setting the stage
You don’t want to jump in with nervousness, and you don’t want to swerve and miss the exit either. Engage in some small talk, and make sure your transition to the m-talk is smooth.
Keep the lead-up positive and light. You want to seem accommodating and not pushy. Here are a few easy transitions:
- I hope you found the work satisfactory. If there’s anything else, you can always call. Just wanted to check.. By when do you think the payment will come in?
- [Friends] I’m low on cash and since I was heading out, I remembered.. Can I pick up the balance from you for the day we went out for dinner?
- [Delayed payment] So, you see, my boss has been asking me for months, so I wanted to follow up about payment. By when can we expect it?
- [When they say their finances are looking bleak] Oh, I understand. I’ve been in your shoes. I’m under a bit of strain as well. How about we do this: Take your time and figure it out internally, and I’ll give you a quick call next week?
This will help: 5 Reasons Why Self-Help Books Are Keeping You Helpless
4. Words are important
Money, due, cost, owe – Unless you’re typing out an official e-mail or speaking directly to Accounts, you may want to stray away from these words. Your tone and voice should imply assertion, not your words.
If you make them edgy like they’re at gunpoint, they’ll probably refuse or avoid having the conversation with you in return.
5. Practice makes comfortable
This is the best piece of advice I’ve personally received. Have tough conversations – practice sounding confident even when you feel like your knees are giving way.
If you don’t want to leap, step in and ask for help from a family member or friend – Have them act at the lender/client. You’ll be surprised to see that by the 4th or 5th conversation, you will find yourself settling in.
Good luck and go get your money.
Have you ever been in this uncomfortable situation with a friend/client? What did you do? Tell us in the comments below.