Let’s break it down.
A waitress walks around her restaurant offering samples of a new lemonade they just started offering.
You see, the boss told her if she offers the lemonade to as many people as she can, it’s more likely she’ll find a few who love the lemonade and keep coming back for more. The more that come back, the more money the restaurant makes…and this means a Christmas bonus for the waitress.
The waitress really needs this job. It’s out of her comfort zone, but she’s willing to give it a try. How hard can it be? After all, she really loves lemonade.
She approaches your table.
“Hello. Would you be interested in trying our new lemonade? It’s so good, and all of us here at the restaurant are really excited about it! I think you’ll like it.”
You’re not interested. You have a few options when it comes to your response. You could…
- Tell the waitress you’re on a strictly organic diet and can’t believe she’d have the nerve to go around offering a beverage full of sugar!
- Scold the waitress for approaching you in such a disingenuous manner. “You don’t care if I like the lemonade or not! All you care about is your Christmas bonus, and it’s very clear you’re just using me.”
- Kindly decline and thank the waitress for offering.
It’s pretty simple. The last option requires the least amount of energy and hurts no feelings. It belittles no one, and life goes on.
While my example has its flaws, this is the most straightforward analogy I could come up with to represent our options for responding to our friends, acquaintances, and, sometimes, strangers when they approach us about joining their multi-level marketing teams.
I’ve been on both sides.
I’ve been approached and annoyed at the very clearly copy-and-pasted Facebook messages, but I’ve also been the one sending them.
When I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom, I knew I would have to find a way to bring in additional income — even if it was just enough for groceries.
Shortly before I was pregnant with my first daughter, after watching through a lens of jealousy and intrigue a complete stranger’s success in a certain MLM company, I reached out to her. At the time, I was commuting 90 miles to work (and back) every day to a job that had become pretty miserable. My husband was in medical school, so my income was all we had. I knew I couldn’t stay in that role much longer, and I also knew my husband and I were getting ready to start our family.
So, I joined the company after years of being convinced it was something I would never do. It was exactly what I needed at that point in my life. I made friends. I felt a startling sense of empowerment I thought I’d never experience. I traveled for events. I built a small team, and I sold a lot of product. I had my baby girl, and I was able to stay home.
I am not an active consultant at this time, but then, it was perfect for me. It made me so happy, and I was good at it!
In the midst of building my team, I sent a lot of messages. I sent messages to people who once intimidated me. But, because I was so confident in the company after learning more about its founders, products, and consultant successes, I wasn’t worried about what they’d think of me.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t gutted by some of the responses I received. Instead of ignoring my messages, some people decided to take the opportunity to make sure I felt real shame for reaching out to them to join a “pyramid scheme.”
You never know the full story.
Let’s get this out of the way: pyramid schemes are illegal. Do your research before throwing around certain accusations.
If you are part of an MLM and work very hard, it’s likely you will build a team and financially benefit from the sales your team makes, just as you’d benefit if you built a company and recruited extraordinary employees.
I’m not here to educate you on the specifics of the industry, though. I’m here to talk about kindness.
Yes, there will be messages that make you cringe a little. It’s not everyone’s gift. When it comes to the art of sales, many people will never “get it.”
Still, who cares?
You’ll never know the full story. You’ll never know how badly one mom needs the extra income or how miserable she is at her current full-time job.
You don’t know if she’s working her ass off to feed her family or if she’s doing all she can to come home to them.
She might feel true fear every time she hits “send” because of the hurtful words that often come back her way, or she might feel genuine excitement because she’s found passion again. She’s feeling fulfilled and wants to share that with you.
Maybe she loves what she does. Who are you to call her a fraud and crush her dreams?
The world is a scary place right now, and you might find small opportunities to spread a little joy in your inbox. Why waste your time tearing another woman down when your exchange could be kept short, simple…and kind?
So, maybe you hate lemonade. Maybe you have your opinions. Maybe you’re even right! Still, can’t you just be a big girl and be nice?
I promise…it won’t hurt.