What do you do when a loved one asks to borrow $1,500 to pay some bills? Especially since you know there is a good chance that you will never be paid back. A recent Bankrate.com survey found that nearly half of people who provided financial assistance wound up getting burned…and of those, 23% suffered a damaged relationship.

It is hard to say no when someone you care about needs help.Etiquette expert ­Maryanne Parker, founder of Manor of Manners, offers this advice on how to turn down the request…

Listen first. People often feel embarrassed when asking for help. You don’t have to promise anything to demonstrate that you understand his/her situation. Say, “I know how hard it is for you to ask to borrow money, and I’m honored that you trust me with this.”

Turn down the request politely and concisely. Keep the tone of your voice even and moderate. Say, “I’d like to help, but I’m not in the position to loan you money.” Don’t be wishy-washy—most people can handle rejection but feel ­disrespected if they are strung along.

Offer a simple explanation if the person asks why. Don’t embellish or lie. Just say, “I don’t have the money to help you. I hope you understand.”

Offer to help in other ways. Perhaps you could provide a few cooked meals or babysit. If the person is out of work, offer to help with his résumé or introduce her to professional contacts.

Shut down the conversation if the person becomes manipulative or angry. Say, “I value our friendship/family relations too much to keep discussing this.”

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