The smiling gauntlet

How has it come to this? How has the natural human reaction to be polite been turned against us as a ruthless selling ploy?

I guess I should be thankful I’m not naturally a people person, but I still feel a small pang of guilt or embarrassment every time I decline to be stopped by the handsome young man trying to “just ask a quick question” before he plies me with his employer’s over-priced hand moisturiser.

Or when I turn away the cute Telstra guy who appears on my doorstep on a Sunday afternoon trying to sell me his employer’s latest broadband package.

Or when I decline to take up the latest fabulous accommodation package from the friendly woman on my mobile who amazingly doesn’t stop for breath during her sales pitch.

These selling tactics rely on us being too polite to ignore them or brush them away, and too guilty to buy nothing once they have invested time and energy in the exchange.

It has now come to the point that we can no longer pop down to the local store for a loaf of bread, take a leisurely stroll through our favourite shopping mall or even open our front door without having to run the gauntlet of these smiling harassers.

I’m sick of feeling guilty when I am forced to engage with these pan-handlers. Now I feel manipulated by the charming, smiling, waving, hand-proffering young people who have been trained not to take no for an answer and to persevere with salutations and questions and dazzling smiles.

The irony of course is that I’m a profligate spender. Catch my attention in a way that lets me make up my own mind in my own time and I’ll open my wallet with surprising speed.  I’m happy to sponsor a child’s education through the Smith Family, drop a twenty on an Anzac or Legacy badge, spend $50 on a wonderful smelling candle or $300 on the right face cream.  But I do all these things because they make me feel good either directly or indirectly.  None of these expenditures were leveraged through guilt.

It’s time we all stood up to this selling tactic and just said no – tell them directly, complain to the shopping centre or mall manager and broadcast your rejection as loudly and widely as you can.  I’ve already started and I hope you will join me.

Postscript: Cornucopia Consulting is the company that trains these harassers. Here is the email address that you can use to lodge your personal complaint:enquiries@cornucopia.com.au

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Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. I do agree, but was too ashamed of my responses -polite refusal, claim that I already subscribe (often that’s true) completely ignore them – not because I’m embarrassed at being asked so much as annoyed by the fake smiles and phony politeness.

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  2. The easiest thing for me to do is avoid eye contact, and when the smiling cute man says “Can I ask you a question?” the answer is “No thank you.” and keep walking.

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  3. These people are parasites and the companies they work for are parasites.

    They want you to go on a direct debit scheme – however, the collection company takes the first 15 to 18 months of donations before the charity sees a single cent.

    I always engage them when they want to talk to me, simply asking them “Are you a volunteer?” When they answer “No”, I simply walk away.

    If they try to press the issue, I then happily blast them with the morally disgusting statistics of how long they and their company soaks up the money before the charity sees it.

    They should be ashamed of themselves.

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About Drag0nista

Political blogger and columnist on the interwebs. Former Liberal staffer and industry lobbyist. Studying the entrails of federal politics since 1989. Otherwise known as Paula Matthewson.

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