There are many names for it, and it comes in many social and business settings. People don’t want to take the time to speak with us, they aren’t interested in what we are proposing (or so they think at the time), or they don’t want to develop a relationship with us.
It happens in dating, when we are soliciting volunteers or donations for our favorite charity or cause, and in sales – even when they are the ones who stand to benefit more than us.
It goes by several names, but a common one used to describe this type of behavior or response to a conversation is the brush-off. It has become sophisticated and is often disguised, but it still exists – and it’s still recognizable if we know how to spot it. Perhaps it’s more evident than ever now.
What’s a brush-off? It’s when someone we are talking with about setting an appointment with them or other potential decision makers for us to discuss what we offer or to set an appointment after the initial phone conversation, politely tells us “no, thank you – not interested.” They don’t come right out and say it. Actually, they make it seem like they are interested, but they aren’t. If we are attuned to what they are saying and how they are saying it, we will be misled into thinking they have some interest in using our products or services. They don’t.
Maybe it’s because they are just being polite. Maybe it’s because they don’t like saying “no” or don’t know how. Maybe it’s because they really think they might have some interest, but subconsciously they don’t. Maybe they think that they’d like to know more about what we offer, but there is little chance they will give it any more thought after we hang up with them or say goodbye, in the case of an in-person encounter.
Whatever the reason, the result and the message is the same – thanks, but no thanks.
It used to be that someone would ask us to mail them a brochure or ask is we had something we could send them. There was a time also when people would request that something be faxed to them.
We eagerly agreed to comply because it seemed like there was some interest there, and we knew that once they saw our literature, read through the key bullet points of our sales message, reviewed our testimonials, and generally had a favorable impression of us and what we could offer them based on what they would be holding in their hands, we would be contacted to have a more in-depth discussion about how we could help them.
The only problem with this is that they weren’t going to look at what we had prepared and sent to them. Maybe they never opened it, and if they did, they had no intention of actually looking at whatever we put together for them. It was a futile effort on our part, but we eventually learned to spot the warning signs. It sounded good for them to say and for us to hear – send them a brochure or some literature for them to review. We complied only to find out later that they never got it, misplaced it, weren’t interested, or that “they will keep it on file.”
Now, brochures (other than trifolds) aren’t used in the same way or to this extent anymore. So now, the common request from someone who is feigning interest in what we offer or just being nice is to ask us to email them something. We have a website they could review if they really were interested in learning about us and what we offer, but that’s the real point. They aren’t interested so a reflexive type of response is just to ask us to email them a flyer, description, literature, or brochure. It may never get opened, but they can feel that they were nice to us. We – without evaluating what just happened – can be inclined to think that there really is some interest here, so we agree to send what they requested or suggested. Most of the time, it’s still a brush-off. It’s just a newer way of expressing it.
If we read it as a brush-off during the conversation, we should just call it for what it is and decline to send anything – a takeaway. There’s nothing that says that we must honor their request. In fact, we can set our posture by explaining why we aren’t going to be sending anything – that there really didn’t seem to be a need or any real interest for what we provide.
We may reflect on the conversation once we end it and determine that our best course of action is just to ignore their request and move on. They are not going to miss receiving anything from us because they weren’t looking forward to getting it anyway. Now, we can move on and talk with someone else and look for people who are more interested in engaging our services.