The Best Ways To Say No to a Friend Selling MLM Products You Don’t Want To Buy

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You have a friend who works for a multilevel marketing (MLM) company, and they’ve invited you to a — sales — party where you’ll definitely feel obligated to buy something. The thing is, you don’t want whatever they’re peddling.

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Whether they’re trying to sell you leggings, makeup, books or kitchenware, you’re just not interested. However, as a kind and supportive friend, you’re afraid turning down the invitation will put a strain on the relationship.

This is seriously stressing you out, but you’ve decided to stand your ground and decline. You’re just not sure the best way to go about it.

“If this is truly a friend or even an acquaintance, honesty is the best policy,” said Jodi RR Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting based in Marblehead, Massachusetts. “Know your limits and stick to them.”

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She said to thank them for thinking of you, but be direct in telling them that whatever they’re selling isn’t your thing. Let them know you’ll be in touch if you ever need any of their products and wish them good luck with their party.

While you might think it’s more polite to tell a white lie such as “I’m busy that night,” Smith warned against it, as they will keep you on the invite list for the next one. She also advised against falsely claiming you might attend the next event, as doing so leads them on.

“If you are so inclined, you can share the post of their upcoming event or let them know of those in your circles who are into makeup, candles, kitchenwares,” she said. “It is kinder and more polite to be honest, so that they can spend their time focusing on others who have better customer potential.”

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Arden Clise, president of Clise Etiquette based in Seattle, acknowledged dealing with a friend who sells MLM products you don’t want can be a tricky situation.

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“It’s always challenging to know how to respond when a friend pressures you to purchase his or her MLM product that you’re not interested in,” said Clise, who is also the author of the book “Spinach in Your Boss’s Teeth: Etiquette Essentials for Professional Success.”

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She agreed with Smith that being straightforward is paramount in this situation.

“While it may be hard to do, it’s best to be direct rather than trying to avoid the person or not being clear you aren’t interested,” she said. “For example, you could say you have sensitive skin and can only use certain products or you don’t need any more cooking products.”

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If you don’t care to elaborate on the reason you don’t want to purchase anything from them, Clise said that’s OK too.

“You could be completely honest and say how much you appreciate their friendship but you aren’t interested in the product,” she said. “It’s important to be as clear upfront as possible, so that you don’t leave the person thinking you will be interested at some time.”

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A true friend would never want you to buy an MLM product just because you feel obligated. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with politely declining their request because how you spend your hard-earned money is up to you.

If the person becomes angry or continues to pester you to make a purchase, you might reconsider your friendship. Anyone who respects you won’t want to pressure you into buying something you don’t want.

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Last updated: Sept. 3, 2021

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