How Do You Say “No” To Friends When They Try To Sell You Things?

When my side-hustle comes at your expense

Edward Scissorhands

Someone wrote in to Carolyn Hax’s chat on Friday complaining that all of their friends have become peddlers.

It seems all of my friends have started selling for various multi-level marketing companies these days. On facebook and in person I find my self being invited to “parties” that are really just an excuse to market things. I try to politely decline and change the subject in person and just ignore on fb, but some, especially those who have gotten into selling “essential oils” have gotten really aggressive, telling us of all the amazing properties of these oils and how we can lose weight and make our children smarter by rubbing really expensive oil on all our feet.

My husband suggests that its just another fad and it will pass, but it is driving me crazy to have every conversation hijack with, “there’s an oil for that.” Has all the world gone mad? Is there a way to say, “I still want to be your friend, but please stop trying to sell me your crazy products.”

Hax is sympathetic: “Replace ‘your crazy products’ with ‘things,’ and I think you have a winner. But I’ll throw it out to the nutterati sales force: Is this what you would like friends to say when they’d rather not get your pitches?”

People have been trying to develop lucrative sidelines for decades. And whether you’re starting to sell Avon, Girl Scout Cookies, vacuum cleaners, lemonade, or real estate, it makes sense to start with people you know. Still, on the other side of it, it is hard to feel like everyone’s hitting you up for money — and it can be even harder to say “no” to your friends. How do you deal with it? Buy a small bottle of basil oil and hope that’ll suffice, or practice scowling so impressively that you scare off all comers?

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