Magazine

Miss Conduct

How do you deal with people aggressively seeking donations for a charity?

Some people collecting for nonprofits use tactics that leave the recipient feeling intimidated.

As a woman living in a large city, I have grown accustomed to tuning out street harassment, requests for money, and proffered fliers. However, charity representatives demand attention like catcallers and money like panhandlers. If I respond truthfully that I’ve made a recent donation, these smiling young people will continue blocking my path and ask why I am not a monthly donor. I apparently owe the clipboard-wielding scourge my attention. I do not wish to be rude, but the temptation to scream obscenities is strong. Would you please suggest a more appropriate response?

K.H. / Miami

Would that there were a civil yet effective technique for dealing with street reps! They often don’t take “no” kindly. I was recently accosted in Central Square, on a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue I now cross the street to avoid, and asked the chugger (charity mugger) to “please leave me alone.” He replied, “That’s the rudest thing I ever heard!” and then he and his partner mocked my somewhat distinctive voice until I was out of earshot, a thing I haven’t experienced since junior high.

The opinion of that green-pinafore-clad young man aside, the most direct and polite thing to say to someone who demands your attention is, indeed, “Please leave me alone.” May you have better luck with it.

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.

Looking for a better way to say no? Send your questions to Miss Conduct at missconduct@globe.com.