How to approach a tricky conversation about MLM
November 19, 2020 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Someone I know has requested I review a document about benefits from a company that is an MLM. They did not ask me about the company specifically, just this particular document. I have very strong feelings about MLM's

But I have recently gone down the path of trying to gently inform a friend that the great company they just joined is an mlm and it didn't go great. Now there is more distance and I feel like our relationship took a hit. I was very careful about the language I used but it didn't make a difference.

Now, this other person has been involved with many mlm's over the last several years and I doubt that there is anything I can say that will make a difference. I think mlm's are cults and generally feel like everyone should know but I know that my opinion here won't be appreciated. (I would never put it so bluntly to these individuals because it would be counterproductive).

How do I respond to their request honestly? What is the best way to engage in a conversation that feels tangentially related to the mlm, cult, etc? I have had a low key constant obsession with cults, mlm's so I feel informed to a certain extent but have been able to avoid interactions which leaves me inexperienced in the social aspects.
posted by mokeydraws to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's the hardest when it's something you care strongly about!

As someone who doesn't care that much about MLMs, I would have a pretty straightforward time saying "huh. Heads up, looks like another MLM." and then give an honest (scathing, if appropriate. positive, if appropriate.) review of the document about benefits.

Since you do have strong emotions, I would recommend thinking about how to word your response while doing some physically-intense exercise (if that's an option for you).
posted by aniola at 1:05 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

When you say they’re asking you to review the document, what is it they’re hoping you will pick up? What are you reviewing for? This person already knows how you feel about MLMs so it seems unfair to you to put something like that in front of you, ask for your honest opinion and then get upset when you give it to them. It feels like you’re being set up to be the bad guy.

If it were me, before I’d even reviewed it, I’d be saying, it looks like an MlM. You know how I feel about those, do you still want me to have a look at this? Because if they just want a cheerleader, you’re obviously not the right person to ask. Your friend needs to take some responsibility here for constantly bringing up a topic they know never goes well with the two of you. Personally I’d pass on it.
posted by Jubey at 1:42 PM on November 19 [8 favorites]

Why do they say they want you to look at this document? Is it in your area of expertise? If not, simply say no for that reason. If this is about "benefits" in the sense of insurance, retirement and so on, they need a real expert. If you are an expert on employment benefits, I guess you could offer help but I still think it's more appropriate to hire a lawyer than to ask a friend. Do you want to be responsible if there's a problem?

More generally, it sadly is often true that MLMs put pressure on relationships and can cause them to dissolve. This friend of yours sounds like a particularly hard case and I think you are right to try to keep out of it. If they pressure you-- and it sounds like this request may be a sneaky form of pressure-- they are just going to have to take no for an answer.
posted by BibiRose at 1:47 PM on November 19 [3 favorites]

"I can't be objective about MLMs. You'll need to ask someone else."
posted by kate4914 at 2:38 PM on November 19 [20 favorites]

If you can't give an objective appraisal of the document without inserting your opinion about MLMs, you should defer the task to someone else. Your question is basically "how do I work my strong feelings about this into a conversation where they didn't ask me about that, but without them getting mad at me" which is challenging even without the topic being something that is honestly so instantly polarizing as MLMs.

(Also, I read this question as being about two different people who are involved in MLMs. If this is the same person and the relationship has already taken a hit from the topic, AND you are trying to maintain it, I think that's a bit different... I think at that point I'd completely pass.)
posted by sm1tten at 4:24 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

"I'm sorry, I don't think I'm the right person to give you a suitable appraisal of that document. You should probably talk to a (lawyer, HR expert, whatever's appropriate)."
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:35 PM on November 19 [4 favorites]

I can't be objective about MLMs

Considering MLMs to be some unholy combination of cult and scam is being objective about MLMs.

What kind of "benefits" are you being asked to review here? Is this the customary glossy new-mark enticement with the stock photos of perfectly groomed white people performing ecstatic backlit hair flicks after bathing in the rivers of gold in the sunlit uplands, or is it about the company's health insurance scheme, or what?
posted by flabdablet at 11:18 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

“I don’t get involved with anything related to MLMs, so I can’t help you with that.” State no opinion about MLMs. Just set your boundary and enforce it. Upon objection or questioning, just repeat in a mild tone, “I can’t help you with that.” That is pretty much the only way to preserve the relationship without compromising your values (that people shouldn’t participate in scams, and you definitely do not).
posted by KayQuestions at 9:17 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]

Read the document. Try to fact check it. Do not count your unsubtantiated opinions about mlm's to count as valid criticism. Substantiate your opinions and validate your criticisms. There are tons of websites that can help you back up your objections (if any), such as
posted by at at 7:58 PM on November 21

"I'm sorry, but I won't be able to help you with that."
posted by Jacqueline at 1:54 AM on November 24

« Older Simplest good password manager   |   How did the Confederacy raise the money to pay for... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments