It might be tempting to wonder how to shame someone who owes you money, but this is rarely a good idea.
In many cases, this will motivate people to keep the money from you out of spite.
Below, I will share a list of more effective strategies to get your money back based on empathy and cooperation.
In my role as a life coach, I am often helping my clients learn how to negotiate with people in a way that feels like a win-win.
That’s exactly what I am planning to do here.
Let’s dive right into it.
How To Respond To Someone Who Owes You Money
Here are 11 recommended steps to get your money back with the minimum of fuss.
1. Set A Date
Whenever you lend someone money, it’s in your best interests to agree on a date for when it can be paid back.
Without this, you put yourself in danger of the recipient delaying your repayment endlessly.
This can also allow the recipient to feel that you have no right to be upset with them, as they wouldn’t have broken any terms of your agreement.
If you’re lending a significant amount of money, it’s recommended to get the repayment terms of this loan (the money owed and the agreed due date) written down and signed by the recipient. This is called a promissory note. This paper trail will support you if you have to escalate things legally.
2. Face To Face
The most effective way to ask for your repayment is face-to-face.
It would be easy for the recipient to ignore a phone call, delete a text message or throw away a letter in the post without a second thought.
They can’t ignore a face-to-face conversation so easily. In this case, they’ll at least have to give you a response.
In most cases, the social pressure and awkwardness of being asked to pay back a loan will be enough for you to get the money back straight away.
3. Allow The Debtor To Save Face
You don’t need to be aggressive or demand payment when you first mention this personal loan.
In fact, it can be effective to think the best of them and assume they forgot to pay you back.
A simple question like “do you have that money you owe me” can suffice.
It’s important to remember that no-one likes being bossed around, even when it is completely deserved.
It can leave people feeling small and unimportant. Sometimes, people will dig their heels and do whatever they can to get revenge on people who make them feel like this. In this case, this could mean they decide to tell you they don’t have the money.
So, at least initially, it can pay to be polite and friendly to whoever you’re dealing with.
4. Don’t Beat Around The Bush
If this person isn’t able to pay you, it’s time to get serious. You need to show you’re not a pushover and that you will continue to pursue the money.
There’s still no benefit to being aggressive, but it won’t help you to be submissive either. Maintain eye contact and tell them you need payment now.
At the very least, this should prompt them to explain why they’re unable to pay you now – or to start negotiating a payment over a different time frame.
5. Hear Their Reason
If they don’t explain why they don’t have the money, prompt them for a reason.
It’s important that you actually listen to their reason for non-payment and try to empathise with them.
Perhaps you can help them come up with a solution. Also, as angry as you may be, it’s in your best interests to maintain good favor with your debtor.
Now, on some occasions, you’re going to determine that their excuses are extremely weak. Perhaps they’ll say they needed money for another urgent reason, when you know they were out spending money at some other party last night.
If this is the case, you need to calmly let them know you think they’re not taking the debt seriously. In such cases, you might want to push harder to see if they can afford to pay you back now.
Sometimes, there will be a genuine emergency they had to pay for, or they will genuinely be waiting for payments from someone else. In this case, you’ll want to negotiate a new schedule for them to pay you back.
6. Focus On What’s In It For Them
When you’re owed money, it can be tempting to focus on why you need the money so urgently. Maybe you have clients or employees you need to pay or your own debts to pay back.
The thing is: most people won’t care about that as much as they care about themselves, especially if they’re not your friend. In any negotiations, it’s therefore important to let the other person know what’s in it for them.
If they are your friend, it’s worth mentioning that this delayed payment is harming your opinion of them. If you feel upset or disrespected, you can calmly tell them that.
More importantly though, make them aware of the future efforts that you will make to get the money back.
If you’re willing to hire a collection agency or take legal action in the small claims court to retrieve the loaned money, let them know.
You don’t need to take a threatening tone or become overly emotional. But, when this person knows the consequences of not paying, they will often make payment of your loan more of a priority.
7. Mention Why You Need The Money
If there are harsh personal consequences in your life as a result of the original loan not being paid, it can help to explain that to your debtor too.
Once this person sees that other people’s lives are being harmed by their actions – and it’s not just numbers moving from one account to another – they’re more likely to feel guilty and take faster action to pay the money back.
This can be particularly powerful if you two are good friends.
Of course, there doesn’t need to be a reason why you need quick payment, other than the fact that you lent them the cash and expect it to be paid back.
8. Keep Your Cool
It’s understandable for you to be upset or angry, especially if a friend owes you money and won’t pay you back.
However, there is rarely any benefit to letting your emotions take over during these negotiations. If you resort to threatening, insulting or shaming people, it’ll usually only galvanise them to keep the money from you. So, keep your cool and stick to the facts.
If someone suggests they aren’t able to pay you back the money on the agreed due date, don’t hold back from negotiating a new timeline for them paying you back.
Surely they are able to pay you some of the money back now and the rest at a later date.
This might not be ideal, but it’s better than nothing for them to at least start paying you back immediately.
If you haven’t made a promissory note yet, now would be a good time to do so. This shows that you’re serious about this person paying you back in full by a certain date.
If the debtor states they can’t pay you anything back at this moment or refuses to sign a note, you should feel free to tell them they’re not taking the debt seriously – and outline the consequences of non-payment for them (see tips 5 and 6).
10. Don’t Hold Back In Front Of Other People
While it might not be in your best interest to make a point of shaming this person in front of other people, that doesn’t mean you should hold back if others happen to be around you.
It can actually be more effective to ask for your money back in front of mutual friends, clients, colleagues or business partners.
People are less inclined to act selfishly when others are watching them. Your debtor might not want their friends to judge them as an untrustworthy character. Perhaps the pressure from these people can be enough to convince them to pay.
Indeed, if the wait to resolve this debt goes on too long, it might be a good strategy to let this person’s friends know that they are stringing you along.
11. Escalate Things Further
In many cases, if you can’t resolve the debt alone, you may have a right to take legal action to reclaim the money.
A promissory note will be incredibly useful to helping you win your case here. Hopefully, you haven’t lost it.
Once you decide to take this process to collect the money, it’s worth leaving the debtor a written warning that you plan to do this in a few days. In this letter, tell them the exact date that you plan to start legal proceedings. You’ll often find that this letter inspires them to repay the money owed to you.
If this letter doesn’t spook them, the one they receive in the post about their court date might do it. So, feel free to keep communication open during this time.
After all, if they’re forced by a judge to repay you the money, they’ll face additional fees and legal costs too.
Frequently Asked Questions
To round off the article, here are my answers to some frequently asked questions about reclaiming debt.
What To Do When A Business Owes You Money?
When a business owes you money, it’s more likely you’ll have the paperwork to get it back. It’s also less likely that you’ll care about hurt feelings or a broken relationship.
By all means, contact the business about the broken terms of your agreement first. If you’re unhappy with their response, go ahead and take legal action to retrieve the money owed.
Related content: Success Traits Of A Lifestyle Entrepreneur
What Do You Say To Someone Who Owes You Money?
When you’re upset with someone, it can be tempting to make comments about their character, but that rarely leads to anything useful. You’re best off sticking to the topic of the money owed and when it’s going to be repaid.
How Do You Politely Remind Someone They Owe You Money?
A lot of people make the mistake of being too polite when playing the role of debt collector.
There’s no need to be apologetic about asking for the money or to pretend the money isn’t a big deal.
When you do, you’ll often come across as a pushover to whom the debtor can get away with delaying their payment.
You can come across as firm without being rude or insulting to someone, and this is what you should aim for when asking for a debt to be paid.
Text Message To Someone Who Owes You Money
You can send a text message asking someone to pay you the money they owe you. However, if someone doesn’t want you to repay you, there’s little point in texting them, because this form of contact is easy to ignore.
What To Do When Someone Owes You Money And Refuses To Pay
If someone refuses to repay your debt and leaves no room for negotiation, the best next step is to take legal action via the small claims court.
What To Do When Someone Owes You Money And Is Avoiding You?
If it seems like someone is avoiding you, so you can’t collect your debt, the best step is to deal with them via the small claims court. It’s likely you’ll need their home address so they can be served with legal papers.
How Can I Legally Get Money From Someone Who Owes Me?
It varies from country to country, but you’ll usually need to write a letter to your local small claims court. Alternatively, you can have a lawyer do this for you. To stand any chance of winning, you’ll need proof that you lent this person the money.
When Is A Good Time To Write Off Debt?
Don’t underestimate the opportunity cost of chasing this lost money. When you’re dealing with these debtors, you’re losing time which could be spent earning many more dollars.
Yes, it is sometimes worth your time to get that cash paid back into your accouint. But sometimes for smaller payments, it’s better to write off the debt and learn the lesson, especially when you consider the stress that chasing debt can cause.
No doubt it can hurt to lose this battle, especially when you lent a friend money, but sometimes it’s better for your wallet and your overall wellbeing to move on.
I promise there’s a lot more money waiting to be paid into your bank account in the future.
Related content: How to Attract Money Using Mind Power – Easy Steps
Any More Questions About How To Respond When Someone Owes You Money?
Thanks for reading my blog post!
I hope you’re more clued up about what to do when someone won’t pay back their loans to you.
If you have any questions on this topic, feel free to ask in the comments section. Maybe I can help further. What have you got to lose?
It would be great to hear from you.