When you are raising money for a good cause like the Our Voice sex abuse counseling center, one could make a case that you should ask everybody who comes through your grocery store check-out line. But this is not feasible or even desirable: asking takes energy, being turned down can take it out of you, and some people are better off not being asked.
You can similarly make a case for not profiling who you should ask. I certainly have gotten yes answers from groups my profiling would target as bad risks: too young, too old, too southern, too poor, too minority. But I do still have a profile of who is most likely to give, for this charity especially: a woman between 25-50 with a big order and our frequent shopper account. And I do find myself, when I am burned out from being turned down, trying to intuit who is going to say no, so as to maximize my yes’s. Call it profiling or call it psychic or simply picking up on their energies, I’ll defend my right – even my responsibility to my own self-care – to leave some people out. There are some other times that I think it makes sense to not ask:
- when they seem worried or angry or hurried
- if they are paying with food stamps (you don’t always know this until right at the end of the transaction)
- when they are buying for work or for somebody else
- if they make any reference to a recent financial reversal – big dental or vet bill, home remodeling that’s going over budget
- they have had to wait a long time in line, you have created a complicated transaction right before them or you have otherwise pissed them off
- they have already pulled out even change -or their change is going to be less than a dollar, the least we are equipped to take
- they have gotten in a groove of saying no – or seem to be enjoying it too much. “No I don’t have your frequent shopper card.” “No I don’t want a bag.” “No I don’t have a highlight to report” (my favorite conversation starter)
- if you have made a big pitch for the frequent shopper program and they have said no
- if they are with their mother or grandmother who is paying
- if you get any kind of a bad vibe from them
In my first “Giving” post, I made the case for asking – even while I said that sometimes they would be doing right by saying no. Here I’m making the case for not asking, mostly to take care of our own energy. Sometimes we just need a breather. The other day, in a burned out moment, I bargained with myself that I would ask the next three people and if none of them gave I would take some time off. None of them did give, but I had so much fun with the fourth person that I couldn’t resist asking – and she gave $5. That kept me going for a while.
Sometimes we get burned out because we have lost our center and started to care too much whether they give. The whole enterprise is a great opportunity to listen to ourself, to tune into our subtle sense of things, and to let go. It can potentially enrich our experience of the work.