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Solicitors Not Welcome

I am a small business owner with only two employees (myself and my business partner). We have a "no soliciting" policy and even display no soliciting signs on our door. Either the solicitors ignore them, or acknowledge the sign and say "I'm going to solicit you anyway." This has actually happened several times. A simple "we don’t accept solicitations" seems like it should work, but it never does. Often, the solicitor puts their hand out to shake mine. I am a germophobe and find this to be an affront to my personal space, especially when the person knows that I have no interest in what they are selling. My partner and I are both no-nonsense, but find it hard to be rude and say something along the lines of "Again, no, and get out" which seems to be the only thing that works. What do you think?

A. W., Seattle, WA

Over the years I have had unsolicited sales people come to my businesses. Invariably my answer to them was "Thanks for stopping by. I can’t talk now. Please send me information. Here’s my card." I would then open the door for them to leave. It worked every time.

Certainly, I agree with you that just because someone is rude to you, that doesn’t mean you can or should be rude to them in return. Two wrongs don’t make a right. There is a difference, however, between being rude, and being firm. In my book, "Get out" is rude; a firm "Please leave now" is not. The next time the unstoppable solicitor enters your business and starts his spiel or insists on speaking with you, in a firm and pleasant voice say something like, "Excuse me, you do not have an appointment, you are interrupting my work day, and I do not have time to talk with you. Now please leave. I have work to do."

Once he has left, contact the company he works for and lodge a complaint about his tactics and inform his boss you do not want to have anyone from the company visit you again.

In spite of the fact I advise people to shake hands when a person reaches out to shake, in your case I would make an exception (germophobe or not and that’s a topic for another column). By not shaking you are clearly saying, "No, I am not acknowledging you." In the end run, you need to be firmer than the solicitor. Good luck.

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