My friend is making a big mistake

Dear Paul0, I have a good friend who just inherited a chunk of money when her mother passed away. She is about to invest much of it in a business venture that I think is bound to fail (and might even be a scam). The problem is, she just doesn’t want to hear what I think. How do I tell her it’s a bad idea without ruining the friendship? — Jasmine, (age: 30-39)

Yes, indeed — it’s all too easy to lose friendship points over something like this. How do we maintain compassion when folks are overtaken with wishful thinking and deaf to our good advice? If only they would just do what we think is prudent, right?

Often it happens that a person comes into an inheritance or something, and in their anxiety as an new and inexperienced investor, put it into some too-good-to-be-true venture. Once they are in (and can’t get out), they can feel betrayed if they perceive that a friend would rather be right (about them being wrong) than supportive of their hopes.

Your instincts may be correct, but before you get too carried away, remember that sometimes well-considered plans meet with stern warnings by well-intentioned friends and family, discouraging us from taking some risk for some reason we need to take. In such a case, such a concerned friend only appears to be one more (disgruntling) challenge to our courage.

If you actually have some 3rd party information about the supposed ‘scam,’ do email that to her, without adding any opinions or feelings of your own. And then leave it at that, continue to wish her well. Ultimately, it’s not your job to protect people, even your friends, from their own decisions (especially if they only ask for support, not advice). And, for the sake of the ongoing friendship, any tendencies you might have toward “schadenfraude” (pleasure derived from the misguided misfortunes of others) must be avoided at all costs. Just hope they get lucky!