A coworker approaches. The glossy catalog and order form in his hand betray his intentions: He wants you to buy something for his kid’s fundraiser. What is it this time? Candy bars, candles, wrapping paper?
Whatever it is, you’re sure of one thing: You don’t want it.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to figure out how you’ll fend off a fundraising coworker. If you don’t know in advance how you’ll decline to buy, there’s a good chance you’ll get caught off guard and end up making a purchase.
Consider the following as you prepare to repulse a coworkers’ sales pitch.
1. White Lie
A white lie is the easiest way of getting out of buying what a workplace fundraiser is selling (or getting out of pretty much anything else, really). Create a plausible, simple story. For instance, say you already bought stuff from a neighbor’s kid and, sorry, one purchase is your limit. Or … money is tight right now, just don’t have the disposable income these days (and that’s not necessarily a fib given the economy).
Don’t feel too guilty about using a white lie to get out of an unwanted purchase. But, you must be careful. If you say you don’t like peanut brittle, don’t get caught eating a slab of it when your more-truthful coworker’s order arrives. If you claim money’s tight, the rebuffed fundraiser will notice your daily $5 latte, your lunches out and that new smartphone. It’s that old tangled web thing that happens when first we practice deceiving.
When an office fundraiser seems particularly determined, a white lie may not be powerful enough to get you out of the situation. The white lie is a defensive play. When it’s time for a good offense, it’s time to try deflection. As soon as the fundraising coworker is close enough, initiate contact with a greeting (this will take him by surprise – classic Art of War stuff) then immediately launch into some long-winded story.
- · The results of an elderly relative’s recent colonoscopy
- · All those jerks in Congress
- · A recent bout with Norovirus
- · That time in college when …
- · Cats (either the feline or Broadway variety will do)
When deployed effectively, the deflection will force the fundraiser to retreat. But use this method with caution. Remember: You still have to work with this guy!
3. Strict Policy
This is the fair and honest option: Just tell each soliciting coworker that if you buy from one, you’d be obligated to buy from all. Therefore, you buy from none. You have a strict, unwavering policy, after all. You don’t play favorites.
Who can argue with that?
While being honest and upfront is commendable, be prepared to be mildly disparaged as cheap (or some similar pejorative) by the spurned fundraiser and her office allies. Just hold your ground. If need be, rat out a fellow coworker who used a white lie to avoid a purchase. But remember, once you claim the strict policy, you have to stick to it no matter what.
Finally, a surefire way to avoid the advances of a workplace fundraiser is not to be advanced upon in the first place. Enter the grouch strategy. The idea is to become a human porcupine or skunk – some unpleasant, bristling, potentially stinky thing that no one will approach (no matter how badly they want their kid to win that top prize of a pizza party in the stretch Escalade).
While we would be remiss to exclude this option (it is viable — hypothetically, at least) we do not recommend it. Basically, it entails being a jerk . To everyone. All of the time. And while this might help you avoid fundraising coworkers, it will certainly help you avoid good working relationships, career advancement, and long-term employment as well.