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Communication Tips:

Originally written by Kerry for tutorial reference material, rewritten for Communication Weekly.

Lending or Borrowing—a possible set up

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be”

—William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Most of the time, throughout each day, we are all relatively unconscious, unaware of all that’s involved in responsible borrowing and lending.

A friend will ask to borrow a lawnmower, money, or a car; a loving parent will even let their teen borrow the family car, honestly and sincerely believing it’s an act of generosity, a reward, a sign of love, of being a supportive parent.

We don’t have space here to discuss the whys of a borrower’s needs, be it karma or whatever; each instance always begs awareness.* Instead, let’s look at some of the variables involved in borrowing or lending, specifically, the considerations and communications that support a responsible mutually satisfying outcome.

For example:

When I borrow anything I must have in mind how I will handle the situation if it breaks (especially if it’s old). If I borrow someone’s lawnmower I know that things can go wrong. To begin with, I might not be fully aware of why I’ve set up life so as to have to borrow. Is my integrity out somewhere? If life hasn’t supported me in having my own working, well maintained, lawnmower then what makes me think that my integrity, my karma, will suddenly support me in having the ability to cause things to go smoothly with a borrowed one? Me, I must ask myself, can I afford to buy them a new lawnmower? If yes, why not just buy myself a new one?

Quite often the answer, as to whether to lend or not, lies in the fact that borrowers seldom communicate clearly, upfront, how they will handle things if something goes wrong, to include losing their job. Or, stated responsibly, seldom does a lender communicate clearly the conditions of the loan.

Let’s use parents, a teen, and the family car as an example:

Here’s what a teen, one clearly ready to borrow responsibly, will communicate, in writing, to the parents as he/she asks to borrow the family car for the first time:

“If I have an accident (even if I’m not at fault) I will deliver to the house a rental for you to use while the car is being repaired. I will arrange and pay for any towing. I will instruct the body repair shop that I will pay whatever it costs for them to repair it so that others can't easily tell it was damaged; I know it must be repaired by an expert so that when you eventually sell the car you’ll still be able to get top trade-in dollar. I also agree to handle all other expenses for the accident so as to not cost you anything. I agree to pay, for-life, any increase in your car insurance premiums that may occur from an accident. I will return the car vacuumed and washed with a full tank of gas. You must agree to not forgive or waive these conditions, ever; 'for life' means for life. I’m aware that if someone gets severely hurt, or if they sue us, that it could cost more than your insurance allows and that you could even have to sell the house to pay for medical expenses.
To let anyone borrow something without this degree of responsibility is to set them up to possibly fail. To lend to someone who can’t financially and logistically handle the consequences of it breaking is an irresponsible setup. You get to look good and, you support the borrower in borrowing irresponsibly, for which there are always undesirable karmic consequences.

As we read above, “I’m aware that if someone gets severely hurt, or if they sue us, that it could cost more than your insurance allows and that you could even have to sell the house to pay for medical expenses.” it should wake up the teen and cause him/her to realize that it’s absolutely irresponsible to borrow anyone’s car or to lend anyone a car; it’s simply too much to ask/expect of anyone to handle a mishap with impeccable integrity. Teens have not had enough experiences to know a car's value and the ramifications of an accident or spilling a drink on the dashboard down into the DVD player.  Seldom will a teen's freind tell the teen that he/she (the freind) just spilled something into the back window switch.

Love is, supporting a teen in working so as to be able to spend their hard earned money for their own transportation and separate insurance; matching dollar for their earned dollar works.

To lend anything, money or your car, you must envision that it is a gift and that you’re willing, and prepared, to accept any and all outcomes without expecting the borrower to pay. To pretend that it’s OK will damage the relationship; few know how to handle borrowing with integrity.

* If the borrower is conscious and intends to handle a mishap responsibly they will in fact truly “ask” to borrow an item with space for you to decline without feeling guilty. If they pretend to ask but their request carries with it a hint of disappointment (or causing you to feel guilty) if you say no then they are not asking but manipulating/conning you for which there are undesirable consequences. i.e. Son: “Dad, can I borrow the car?” Dad: “No.” And then, the son walks away pouting, trying to make the dad feel badly. Clearly the son was not asking with a yes or no reply being perfectly OK.

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Check back occasionally for minor edits (last edited 8/11/13)

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