The Art of Saying No

I have been volunteer signature gathering for the California Cancer Research Act in my personal time and overall it has been a great experience trying to collect signatures and get a life-saving initiative qualified for the ballot.  The one thing that takes getting used to is hearing no, and hearing no a lot.

After this experience, I will rethink how I respond to people  asking me to sign petitions and try to listen to what they have to say and either sign or give them a respectful no if I don’t agree with their cause.  That said, many people still want to say no to everything and to assist them I have developed my five-step guide to saying no to signature gatherers which I learned from the large amount of no’s I received during my volunteer efforts. 

Option #1 – the easiest and probably most often truthful way to say no is to just say you are in a hurry.  This works well in front of a store or farmer’s market, just quicken your pace a little and act rushed.

Option #2 – when in doubt, act confused.  Best demonstrated by staring blankly at the person like they are an alien or opening your mouth but not saying anything as you walk past.

Option #3 – use your creativity and make an excuse.  Top choices are saying you don’t sign petitions or that you have already signed (which may even get you a thank you).  But feel free to use your creativity, just be smart about it unlike the one person who said they couldn’t sign because they are Canadian even though they were wearing an “I voted” sticker.

Option #4 – if you struggle with words, just act busy.  Pretend like you have a phone call or that you are looking for something in your purse and time it so that you are able to look away right as you are walking by.

Option #5 – not the kindest method, but somewhat popular is to just completely ignore the person asking you to sign.  Stare straight ahead and pretend that you don’t hear anything, it’s rude, but it works.

If nothing else, at least don’t insult the cause that the signature gatherers support, such as the woman who responded to our request by thrusting her fist in the air and stating “I’m pro-cancer.”

-Justin Garrett


  1. Nicole Coxe
    Posted Jun 24, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    My favorite/worst reason I received was, “I had cancer and I won’t sign that!”

    How do you respond to that? Yikes!

    Much respect to everyone out there who gathers signatures… you definitely need thick skin! 🙂

  2. Erin
    Posted Jun 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    It really is shocking, isn’t it? Most of the time I can just shrug and let it go but every once and a while…

  3. Raveen Sharma
    Posted Jul 6, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Actually, that is pretty funny. But I agree, if you don’t have the time to sign something, just honestly say so. No judgement here.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *