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Author Topic: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over  (Read 4152 times)

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Amberly

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Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« on: August 01, 2017, 07:36:23 AM »
I have a friend who owns a business and does a lot of marketing on social media.  She lives near me, and when she's in a pinch, will call me and ask if I can come shoot a live video with her.  It's fun - we do demos, joke around, and talk about her products.  When it's over, she pays me.  Win win.

Recently, she was in a bind and asked me to travel to an event with her where she sold her products.  She paid my expenses, plus a little extra, and was gracious and kind to me the whole time.  No problem.  However, when I spent two entire days with her listening to her discuss her products with her customers, I became increasingly uncomfortable with some of her product claims and the way she presented her own expertise on the subject (referring to herself with titles that denote education she does not have).  I decided for these reasons, and because I have a good "day" job and just generally despise sales and marketing, I don't want to be a part of this anymore.  I still very much like her and I believe her heart is in the right place - I just don't want to associate myself with the marketing methods anymore or become the "face" of her product.  The problem is, I work my butt off and have a great personality for sales (just sayin'...lol), so she thinks the event went wonderfully and is already making plans for the two of us for future videos, events, etc.

So...what is the best way to tell my friend, possibly over and over, that I can't help her, without hurting her feelings and/or telling her I don't believe in what she does?  I'd really like to avoid giving her a thorough explanation, no matter how delicate.

Zizi-K

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2017, 08:14:21 AM »
It sounds like you don't have a problem with the work itself, with the products, or with the dynamic between you and Friend--you object specifically to some of the claims she makes. I think you should bring up your real concerns directly. Any other reasons/excuses you come up with will not ring true, and I think have the potential to be hurtful because she will likely sense you are not being straight with her (and may fill in with some other story, which might itself be worse). I think you can bring it up in a way that does not sound judgmental.

"Friend, I had a fun time with you at Convention. However, there were moments when I became uncomfortable with the way you discussed the products and/or your own qualifications. Specifically, that time you claimed that Lotion could regrow a limb, or when you implied you earned two doctorates. I enjoy doing this stuff with you, and I think the lotion is great for dry skin. But I'm not really willing to be a part of a less-than-entirely-truthful sales pitch. It doesn't feel right to me."

Hmmmmm

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2017, 08:26:23 AM »
While I usually like being direct with people, I've learned to not engage with anyone that is pushing  a product or idea that is making them money. They will be very defensive.

I think I'd give a different reason. "Friend, I've started thinking that I really don't have the time continue to assist in your product marketing. I'm thinking of signing up for a (foreign language class/learning to sew/taking some online programming classes....) and I want to spend free time on that. I wanted you to know because I don't want you to make plans that include me in your sales efforts and I end up letting you down. I think it would be a good idea for you to find someone else who can help you out. I'd rather the time we spend together just be social and not business focused."

And then I'd be very interested in how much time she can spare to spend with you as just a friend and not a part time marketing buddy.

maksi

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2017, 08:52:22 AM »
I wouldn't bother explaining - especially if it's one of the "health" produce thingies, people seem to take them extremely seriously and take all criticism/more specific questions as personal attacks.

I'd just say the next time she asks: "I'm sorry, but I really don't have extra time for this anymore. I'll get back to you if the situation changes." And then just repeat.  And it's the truth, too: you don't have time for borderline-scammy marketing anymore.

#borecore

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2017, 08:57:00 AM »
You should refuse to explain many times, just explain once clearly and unequivocally that you can't help her any longer. No need to get into ethics or opinion, you're just not available anymore.

mime

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2017, 09:49:20 AM »
It sounds like you don't have a problem with the work itself, with the products, or with the dynamic between you and Friend--you object specifically to some of the claims she makes. I think you should bring up your real concerns directly. Any other reasons/excuses you come up with will not ring true, and I think have the potential to be hurtful because she will likely sense you are not being straight with her (and may fill in with some other story, which might itself be worse). I think you can bring it up in a way that does not sound judgmental.

"Friend, I had a fun time with you at Convention. However, there were moments when I became uncomfortable with the way you discussed the products and/or your own qualifications. Specifically, that time you claimed that Lotion could regrow a limb, or when you implied you earned two doctorates. I enjoy doing this stuff with you, and I think the lotion is great for dry skin. But I'm not really willing to be a part of a less-than-entirely-truthful sales pitch. It doesn't feel right to me."

I agree with Zizi-k. Even though you aren't obligated to give any reason whatsoever if you back off, your relationship may be served better by being open. It sounds like in some ways she is a very good business person-- she has a good rapport with people and deals fairly with you when you help out. She may appreciate (and even rise to) the challenge of cleaning up the message she's sending.

Many people in business for themselves have mentors who do exactly that: challenge them to be better at marketing, at financial management, at business ethics, at whatever... and they are better for it.

Margo

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2017, 09:49:50 AM »
I think how you do it depends on your relationship with her and how you think she will respond.

If you don't think she will react well to a criticism of her exaggerations or don't want to have that conversation then something along the lines of "I enjoyed making the demo as a one-off, but I don't really want to be involved in working for the business, so I won't be able to help in future. I'd rather keep business and friendship separate"

If you think she would be open to constructive criticism then I think from an etiquette and friendship standpoint you would be fine to explain - and if you wish, can soften it by saying something such as "I'm sure it isn't your intention to mislead, but when you say [example] it comes across that you are claiming to have x qualification / that the product has been proved to do y. As you don't / it  hasn't been, it makes me very uncomfortable and I'm not willing to continue to be involved in sales with you. Maybe you could re-think how you present the information so that it doesn't come across as misleading?"
That way, you present it as letting her know about the impression she gives, rather than telling her she is misleading people, which presents it as 'I thought you'd want to know this because of course you wouldn't deliberately lie' rather than 'you are lying to people'.

But it does depend on your friendship with her. I don't think you have to make up a different commitment. It can be 'once or twice was fun, but it has started to feel like work so it isn't fun any more' is a perfectly valid reason to give for stopping, and you don't have to pretend to be unavailable!

Runningstar

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2017, 10:38:50 AM »
The main thing (from what I understood about the situation) is to tell your friend now that you will not be helping out anymore.  This is important help that she really needs and it would be the kindest thing to give her time to find someone else.  There are other people that might love to help her and get paid for it.  She can refuse to take no as an answer, but she can't force you to help.  A friend will let it go.

Unless you want to end the friendship (and most likely on a bad note too), I wouldn't say one word about your feeling uncomfortable with the misleading way that she is presenting herself or her products.  It won't do any good and unless she were to be able to prove that she has been honest about her claims - it will still be a crushing blow to the friendship that you didn't trust her.

gellchom

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2017, 10:55:45 AM »
The main thing (from what I understood about the situation) is to tell your friend now that you will not be helping out anymore.  This is important help that she really needs and it would be the kindest thing to give her time to find someone else.  There are other people that might love to help her and get paid for it.  She can refuse to take no as an answer, but she can't force you to help.  A friend will let it go.

Unless you want to end the friendship (and most likely on a bad note too), I wouldn't say one word about your feeling uncomfortable with the misleading way that she is presenting herself or her products.  It won't do any good and unless she were to be able to prove that she has been honest about her claims - it will still be a crushing blow to the friendship that you didn't trust her.

 This is where I land, too. She already knows what she is and isn't telling the truth about. The only information you would be giving is that you are uncomfortable about that, and I really don't see what purpose that would serve.

So I too would just say something like it was fun but you don't want to do it again in the future, so she will need to find someone else. Don't say what you're planning on doing with the time instead. Then just wish her good luck and change the subject to something social you can do together.

 The only thing I have to add is to be sure that you are very clear as well as prompt.  No hinting, no hedging, no conditionals, no probably nots or I don't think sos.  Many people are uncomfortable saying no, so they try to soften it in a way that requires the other person to guess whether they really mean no or whether they are actually discussing some obstacle that they would be willing to overcome.  But it is very possible to be direct and crystal clear without being blunt or mean, and I believe that's exactly what you need to do right now.

L

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2017, 12:35:51 PM »
It sounds like you don't have a problem with the work itself, with the products, or with the dynamic between you and Friend--you object specifically to some of the claims she makes. I think you should bring up your real concerns directly. Any other reasons/excuses you come up with will not ring true, and I think have the potential to be hurtful because she will likely sense you are not being straight with her (and may fill in with some other story, which might itself be worse). I think you can bring it up in a way that does not sound judgmental.

"Friend, I had a fun time with you at Convention. However, there were moments when I became uncomfortable with the way you discussed the products and/or your own qualifications. Specifically, that time you claimed that Lotion could regrow a limb, or when you implied you earned two doctorates. I enjoy doing this stuff with you, and I think the lotion is great for dry skin. But I'm not really willing to be a part of a less-than-entirely-truthful sales pitch. It doesn't feel right to me."

I agree with being honest. She's someone you care about, and you like her business. I might beat around the bush or be vague with someone I didn't care that much about, but for a good friend I would vote straightforward but kind honesty, exactly as Zizi-K suggested above.

rose red

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2017, 12:41:05 PM »
I agree with those who say just tell her you don't have time or something. She knows she's stretching the truth and is unlikely to stop since that's the way she makes her money.

Unless her claims will hurt the public (like claiming her product is safe for peanut allergies if it's not, etc.), I'd just distance myself from her business.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 12:43:34 PM by rose red »

EllenS

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2017, 02:31:33 PM »
It sounds like you don't have a problem with the work itself, with the products, or with the dynamic between you and Friend--you object specifically to some of the claims she makes. I think you should bring up your real concerns directly. Any other reasons/excuses you come up with will not ring true, and I think have the potential to be hurtful because she will likely sense you are not being straight with her (and may fill in with some other story, which might itself be worse). I think you can bring it up in a way that does not sound judgmental.

"Friend, I had a fun time with you at Convention. However, there were moments when I became uncomfortable with the way you discussed the products and/or your own qualifications. Specifically, that time you claimed that Lotion could regrow a limb, or when you implied you earned two doctorates. I enjoy doing this stuff with you, and I think the lotion is great for dry skin. But I'm not really willing to be a part of a less-than-entirely-truthful sales pitch. It doesn't feel right to me."

I agree with Zizi-k. Even though you aren't obligated to give any reason whatsoever if you back off, your relationship may be served better by being open. It sounds like in some ways she is a very good business person-- she has a good rapport with people and deals fairly with you when you help out. She may appreciate (and even rise to) the challenge of cleaning up the message she's sending.

Many people in business for themselves have mentors who do exactly that: challenge them to be better at marketing, at financial management, at business ethics, at whatever... and they are better for it.

I'm in this camp. If you were friends before the business stuff, and you care about her as a person, I think it can be valuable to give her a little pushback on things that feel "off." It can be really easy for people to get caught up in the selling mindset and kind of forget who they want to be as humans. Knowing that it's affecting your opinion of her may be a valuable wake-up call.

Or...not. But at least then she'll know not to keep the business stuff separate from your friendship. Unless she's just totally mercenary and doesn't care about ethics the way you do - which is good for you to know sooner rather than later.

ETA - typo that made my sentence say the opposite of what I meant.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 03:06:43 PM by EllenS »

ladyknight1

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2017, 02:38:39 PM »
It sounds like you don't have a problem with the work itself, with the products, or with the dynamic between you and Friend--you object specifically to some of the claims she makes. I think you should bring up your real concerns directly. Any other reasons/excuses you come up with will not ring true, and I think have the potential to be hurtful because she will likely sense you are not being straight with her (and may fill in with some other story, which might itself be worse). I think you can bring it up in a way that does not sound judgmental.

"Friend, I had a fun time with you at Convention. However, there were moments when I became uncomfortable with the way you discussed the products and/or your own qualifications. Specifically, that time you claimed that Lotion could regrow a limb, or when you implied you earned two doctorates. I enjoy doing this stuff with you, and I think the lotion is great for dry skin. But I'm not really willing to be a part of a less-than-entirely-truthful sales pitch. It doesn't feel right to me."

I agree with Zizi-k. Even though you aren't obligated to give any reason whatsoever if you back off, your relationship may be served better by being open. It sounds like in some ways she is a very good business person-- she has a good rapport with people and deals fairly with you when you help out. She may appreciate (and even rise to) the challenge of cleaning up the message she's sending.

Many people in business for themselves have mentors who do exactly that: challenge them to be better at marketing, at financial management, at business ethics, at whatever... and they are better for it.

I'm in this camp. If you were friends before the business stuff, and you care about her as a person, I think it can be valuable to give her a little pushback on things that feel "off." It can be really easy for people to get caught up in the selling mindset and kind of forget who they want to be as humans. Knowing that it's affecting your opinion of her may be a valuable wake-up call.

Or...not. But at least then she'll know not to keep the business stuff separate from your friendship. Unless she's just totally mercenary and doesn't care about ethics the way you do - which is good for you to know sooner rather than later.

I agree. I know a few people who sell supplements and essential oils and can be rather flippant about making promises. This has caused me to back away from them completely, although some have come to their senses about the products and promises. If you search online, you can find multiple occasions where companies make no promises that product X is a cure for ___, but their sales people will promise anything to get the sale.
ďAll that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost."
-J.R.R Tolkien

GardenGal

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2017, 02:11:41 PM »
The main thing (from what I understood about the situation) is to tell your friend now that you will not be helping out anymore.  This is important help that she really needs and it would be the kindest thing to give her time to find someone else.  There are other people that might love to help her and get paid for it.  She can refuse to take no as an answer, but she can't force you to help.  A friend will let it go.

Unless you want to end the friendship (and most likely on a bad note too), I wouldn't say one word about your feeling uncomfortable with the misleading way that she is presenting herself or her products.  It won't do any good and unless she were to be able to prove that she has been honest about her claims - it will still be a crushing blow to the friendship that you didn't trust her.

I agree with the above as the best approach.  You need to be totally clear that you will not help her again, so she doesn't keep asking.

However,
Quote
Unless her claims will hurt the public (like claiming her product is safe for peanut allergies if it's not, etc.), I'd just distance myself from her business.
This is important - if her claims are dangerous you need to call them out.  Otherwise, I'm sure people know that someone selling a product will always say only the good things about it.
"No matter where you go, there you are." Buckaroo Banzai

Amberly

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Re: Saying "no" to a friend...over and over
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2017, 10:57:37 AM »
Thanks to all - all great suggestions and insights, and some angles I hadn't considered!  After some thought, I do feel she's someone who would take offense to any kind of "correction" or suggestion that anything ethically questionable is going on. 

Fortunately, she knows that I was very badly burned by a business interaction with a mutual friend, so it may be best for me to pull back and say, "You know what, I'm making a new policy for myself not to mix business and friendship.  Sorry, I should have done this from the beginning.  I'm sure you'll understand based on what happened between X and me."