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Ask Louise: How to politely decline when friends sell products

In this new column, Louise Fox, founder of The Etiquette Ladies, answers all your social conundrums and questions about modern manners.

empty red wallet women

Photo, Masterfile.

Help! My friend just started selling Stella and Dot jewellery and I’m feeling pressured to buy from her. I’m proud of her for starting her own business and don’t want to discourage her, but I just can’t afford to support her. How do I politely let her know I don’t want to purchase anything without putting stress on our relationship. I find it really awkward.

Dear Awkward,

There is an old saying about making assumptions. “Assume makes an ASS out of YOU and ME.” Both you and your friend may be guilty of making assumptions which are not correct.

You are assuming that your friendship would suffer or could potentially end if you don’t buy a piece of jewellery. If this were true, such a shallow friendship may not be worth holding on to.

She may also be wrongfully assuming that you are in a financial position to purchase jewellery. Unless one is a person’s banker or financial advisor, one shouldn’t make assumptions about how well off another person might be. The big house might be mortgaged to the hilt, the extensive wardrobe from consignment shops and the jewellery inherited.

Tell your friend how proud you are of her starting her own business. I would follow this up by saying “Although I am not in the position to purchasing something right now, I am happy to support you in any other way I can.” There are other things you can do to help make her venture successful. Offer to help her with her trunk parties by sending out announcements to your friends, posting the event on Facebook, setting up for the party, serving guests, or cleaning up afterwards. When you run your own business having a sounding board for ideas is often more valuable than the $25 you might receive from making a sale.

Have a question for Louise? Email askaneditor@chatelaine.com.

Louise Fox, recognized as Canada’s Etiquette Expert, is the owner of The Etiquette Ladies and MannersTV.ca. She has over 20 years experience in hospitality and special event planning industries, and is Director of Eastern Operations of Civility Experts Worldwide and Certification Panelist and Master Trainer for the International Civility Trainers’ Consortium . She is a frequent guest on Breakfast Television, Entertainment Tonight, MTV, Business News Network, Global News and many others.