We are always so quick with the turn down.
I came to this realization when I was helping to hand out the Algonquin Times newspaper. Now if everyone had taken one, I would have only spent a couple of minutes out on the corner hawking my wares. Instead, I was surprised by how many people said no.
Don’t get me wrong; some people are not interested in reading the paper and I understand that. I’m not under the delusion that just because I write for it, I think people should be interested enough to read it. My last name is not Woodward or Bernstein.
But it was so interesting, most times even comical, to watch people and their rejections. Comical because, even though they were quick to say no, they still want to be nice about it so as to not offend me.
For example, I had many people walk on the other side of the sidewalk and look the other way. Did they think I didn’t see them? The funniest was the person who, 10 feet before they would have passed me, waved their right arm in the air and loudly said, “no thanks!” I guess he was anxious and wanted to give me a pre-emptive turndown. He couldn’t even see what he was saying no to.
It made me realize that we have socialized ourselves to say no, even when what is being offered was free, may help us out, or make our lives better. On a daily basis, we are bombarded with requests; buy this latest gadget, give to this charity, spend your time doing this, read this newspaper. We live in a high-paced culture where everything from chewing gum to corporate image is carefully branded and marketed. For the most part, I blame telemarketers, who invade the peace of our homes to give us the hard sell. Sometimes all this bombardment can tire us out without our notice.
Soon enough the requests come so often, that instead of only saying no to a few things, we just begin saying no to everything. If we just automatically program our minds with a reject button, we will not be bothered.
I am just as guilty of this. Recently, a Rogers rep came to my door to tell me about their latest service packages. Before he could say much more than his name, I told him I wasn’t interested and promptly shut the door. But what if they were offering something better than what I had? Now if I want to find out, I would have to take more time to look for the information than if I had just listened to the rep.
We would be better consumers and better people if we just started listening to others. Does that mean we should listen to everything or say yes to everything? Of course not. But by automatically rejecting everything without giving it a second thought, we may just be hurting ourselves.
Think about that next time you see me on the corner with my newspapers.