To Market, To Market, Jiggedy-Jig

11 Jun

Dear LetterBalm: I have a weird problem I’m not sure how to handle. My best friend in the world has seen me through illness, a bad marriage and the job from hell. I’ve seen her through crises, too. We are each other’s strong shoulder. She recently became engaged. She and her fiancé plan to get married next year, and I’ll be her matron of honor. Here’s the problem: Her fiancé is an avid member of a multi-level marketing company that sells a big variety of merchandise, from vitamins and health foods to household products. These companies thrive on having their sales force recruit other salespeople and get compensated for doing this. Well, her fiancé has hired her, and both of them are actively trying to recruit me. They keep telling me I can earn all kinds of money in my spare time. With two kids and a part-time job, I don’t HAVE any spare time. Besides, I don’t like the products and wouldn’t want to sell them. The whole thing has become uncomfortable. I need to cut this off, without damaging my close friendship. What to do?

–Reluctant Seller

Ms. L.B. hates to tell you, but you’re in a tight spot. The only way you’re going to stop this is to say “NO” in no uncertain terms, which very well could create tension between you and your friend’s fiancé. Do some serious thinking about equating your friendship with a shelfful of products, and see if that will move your dear girlfriend. If she’s as good a chum as you say, she’ll get the message. But don’t count on her and her fiancé stopping their recruitment efforts; money is a big incentive, after all. Meanwhile, practice saying “no thank you” calmly. Have several versions on hand, without explanation, certainly without telling them your true feelings about the products. Here’s a selection:

  • [To her fiancé] No, thanks. I’m afraid this kind of business is definitely not my thing.
  • [To her fiancé] No, thanks. I’ve given this some thought, and I’m definitely not suited for this line of work, trust me.
  • [To her fiancé] No, thank you. This is not my line of work, and my answer won’t change.
  • [To your friend] Dear, you’re my best friend, but the answer is no, and it won’t change.
  • [To your friend] Dear, you’re my best friend, but I have to ask you to respect my decision. It’s final. It won’t change, trust me.
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