Several years ago, I learned a little technique that still makes me laugh to this day.
The Story Behind “No, Thank You”
Spending most of my career commuting and having to walk city blocks to work brought me into the company of many “business opportunities”. I would get requests from downtown panhandlers to give my last to invest in their imminent future. But I needed my money for parking, lunch, or the toll booth. I did not have extra to give to public solicitations. This would happen at red lights, cross walks, convenience stores and gas stations. Or right in the front of my business building.
After several charitable donations of whatever change I had on me, soon I realized I was getting hostile. It wasn’t the begging for money that got to me as much as the aggression behind the request. As if I had to give, as if it was my moral obligation and if not, I was made to feel bad. What nerve?
It was irritating me to no end because the bottom line was I didn’t want to give my cash away. Furthermore, I’m trying to get to work or get home. What makes you think that I worked for eight hours just to give you a generous 1 percent commission? What the !@#%@!&%! That’s not biblical! I don’t even get paid every day but yet you want me to pay you a daily penance just to walk past you on this city block because we breathe the same air. I think not, buddy.
This was getting the best of me. I had to minimize my hostility and get on with my day. I started with a simple head shake and a polite smile, this seemed to aggravate the solicitor. So I stepped it up to putting my hand palm-up to non-verbally say “no”. That didn’t work either. I even tried lying. “I don’t have any change.” That brought on an onslaught of angry retorts and many political discussions about “The Man” for which I had no time.
Then one day it hit me.
1. I don’t want to give.
2. I don’t want to participate in any discussions.
3. I did appreciate the acknowledgment that I am working for a living.
“No, Thank You” just naturally flowed out. It felt good and made sense. It made me laugh and left the street vagrant puzzled by my response. They didn’t know what to say as I smiled gleefully and kept on walking.
It brightened my day. I wasn’t rude and they got the point. By the time they realized I was thanking them for nothing; I was too far away to care. I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I had re-established my boundaries and felt empowered. No harm, no foul, and I kept my own dignity without verbal retaliation.
So I used it again the next day. Treating it as if they were offering me an opportunity for which I did not want to participate. “No, thank you.” It worked. What fun! I still get tickled every time I say it. After a while the “locals” started to expect my response and would mimic “No, thank you” as I walked by. I would laugh and walk to my building. Now there were times when I would give to displaced residents but it was on my terms and at my discretion.
I now use it all the time:
• Panhandlers offering to wash my car windows at the traffic light
• Solicitors wanting to discuss the current political agenda
• Perfume sprayers at the department store offering a free fragrance
• Entrepreneurs wanting me to sample their musical genius
• Gentlemen wanting to exchange my precious time for their verbal rhetoric
• Credit card solicitors with an extra 10% discount and a free water bottle
You name it; it works. “No, thank you.” Some days I’ll even add a little flair. “No, thank you. I choose not to participate.”
Take The Time To Change
Road rage is common place on our open highways and “dog-eat-dog” is expected in the workplace. Our children are taught to rambunctiously compete before they can read. We are developing a society of hostility. No longer do we display manners and common decency. No longer do we make nice and play well with others.
What are we so angry about? We live in the world’s most progressive country in the land. We are blessed beyond measure, whether we know it or not. Do we continue this trend of unfriendliness or try to better our circle of influence. I decided to minimize what hostility I could with three little words. “No, Thank You.” Anyway, constant anger is unhealthy.
If you find yourself getting irritated by public solicitations, don’t blow your top or be rude. Just politely say, “No, thank you” and walk away with a smile.