Workspace relationships are delicate on their own, without the complication of the money element. Borrowing money from a colleague is a very common occurrence and may lead to imbalance at work if not handled well. The situation could be even more difficult if your superior asks you for money.
Precaution is better than cure
- The first way to avoid such a situation, is to not indulge in it at all, especially if you do not know the colleague very well or are not in good terms with them. Find a non-offensive way to decline or make up an excuse.
- If you want to help the colleague, do not offer more money that you can spare. You should be able to do without the amount as there are high chances that you will never get the money back.
- Try to understand what the colleague needs the money for- is it a genuine financial need or a mindless spend?
- You may even try to find out if the colleague has a reputation of being an habitual borrower and has asked money from other colleagues as well.
Ask at the right time
If you have already loaned money to a colleague, wait for a reasonable amount of time before you ask for the money.
If the borrower had promised to return the amount on the next pay day, you can wait till then to ask for it. There are chances that the colleague may have forgotten about it.
Do not wait too long to ask or do not stop yourself from asking. This is because the borrower may forget about the money, but you will be reminded of it (especially if it was a large amount) and it could cause tension in your professional relationship with the person, which in turn, will affect your work performance.
Ask the appropriate way
There is no need to document the situation by asking the borrower over email or WhatsApp. In fact, there are chances your written form of communication will be ignored.
It is best to ask them directly, separately (not in front of another colleague), in a gentle manner. Just ask for an update on when you can expect to receive the amount rather than give them deadlines. It will give you clarity on when you receive the money or ask again for the amount.
Give them alternatives
If you do not get the amount back in a reasonable span of time, work out an alternative way to make it easier for the colleague to repay you.
You can offer the method of installments rather than asking for a lumpsum payment to be paid to you on a fixed date. You can even be flexible with the mode of payment.
If the colleague offers cash instead of digital payment, take it.
Similarly, you can ask the colleague to pay for a purchase that you were otherwise planning to make on your own. There are many monetary means through which this can be done, for example, an online purchase using the borrower's shopping points, or paying for your lunch.
If the borrower is in a real financial crisis, you can help him/her lighten their burden by providing them with options to make repayment easier.
Convey your needs
Tables could turn and you may need the money this time. Your first option is the money that you loaned. You can first try to ask the colleague directly and explain the urgency of your situation.
If the colleague does not respond soon, you can add further pressure by citing your personal financial emergencies when your work team gathers to plan an outing or activity. Subtly point out that you cannot make plans as you are in need of funds.