Setting expectations: A positive defense against moochers

from Annie MoleIn an ironic turn of events, a friend of mine recently boasted about how good he is with his money in hopes of persuading me to lend him some money.  He proudly admitted that he regularly mooches off friends in order spend as little as possible.  From personal experiences with him, I know this to be very true. I also thought this was a remarkable argument to adopt in order to borrow money.

Even so – it got me thinking….

Today’s economy is certainly making most people anxious. Many folks think twice about spending funds and are on the lookout for “deals”.   In these desperate times, the positive frugal, thrifty and cautious nature can be taken a tad too far.  Without knowing, this singular cost-conscious attention morphs turns to mooching or taking advantage of friends and family.

Friends and family will certainly try to understand your situation for a short time.  But we all are living in the same economical situation.  Eventually, friends will have had enough.  Eventually resentment will set in and you may run out of friends.

The other side of the trap is the “giving (enabler) friend”.  This is just as dangerous as the “moocher”.    We often let this pass because they are our friends and we want to seem helpful.  The result is that we’ve trained them to continuously come back to us for more assistance instead of standing on their own two feet.  It’s the yin-yang of the equation.  Without giving-enablers, there would be no moochers.

A good defense against falling into either side of this trap  is reciprocation.  Reciprocity refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action.   Reciprocation is a visceral, tactile and tangible token of appreciation.  The reciprocation does not have to be quid pro quo or of equal monetary value.  It just needs to be deemed of positive value to the recipient (versus just something you are willing to give).  Your offer and their perception of the value need to match. Otherwise it won’t work as designed.  It won’t register as a valuable token of appreciation.

This works no matter which side of the fence you are standing (the giver or receiver) because at the end of the day, you will be both (the giver and the receiver).  You both will be standing on equal ground.

Some ideas could be:

1)     Barter of service of equal value

2)     Take (ask for) them to dinner or lunch

3)     Offer (or ask for) to do chores or other service

4)     Send (or ask for) customers their way to assist with their business

5)     Consider other actions that bring them additional funds like marketing and advertising their wares, services, etc.

6)     Publish their articles, coupons, interviews on your websites, other social media or press releases

7)     Give (or ask for) gift certificates or token of appreciation

8)     Send them a heart-felt card, flowers or surprise

9)     Give (or ask for) gift of time (things that gives them more time with their family, spouse, hobby or quite time).

If you don’t know what they feel is of equal value — just ask them before taking/giving help.  If you can’t provide that level of reciprocation, don’t feel obligated or guilty.  This just means that this isn’t the right person for you and you should not accept/give help.   This is not a bad thing.  This just means that your needs do not match.   AND now you know this upfront.  No harm done.  It takes the guess work out of it, reduces misunderstandings and avoids bad feelings.

Do not worry.  There will be someone out there that is a perfect match.  Now that this person understands your needs and what you can provide in trade – ask their advice on what your next steps should be.  This person may either know of a better match or can pass along the word.

The concept of  “going to the well to often” is true.  If you don’t do anything to cultivate and care for it, eventually the well will go dry.   Many people need some that type of visceral, tactile and tangible gratitude.   Without that, even the most loyal of friends will hit a threshold.

Because you do not want to burn bridges to those you really admire and respect, get into the habit of offering/asking friends something in return for the help (no matter what side of the help you are on).  If they refuse reciprocation, that’s their choice and your next step is clearer.


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