How to Handle Rejection – Lessons from Distributing Flyers

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work as a flyer distributor or a fundraising canvasser? I know that most often than not, my first reaction when I see a canvasser is to avoid them. For these workers, rejection is a daily reality inherent to their work, and finding a healthy way to manage rejection also becomes crucial to their work and their well-being. For the rest of us. rejection is a fact of life that we will all face at one point or another, in life or in work. The past two weekends, I worked as a flyer distributor on a busy downtown street. I’d like to share my experiences with a focus on how it has helped me find a more balanced and healthy perspective on rejection.

Let’s start with how I found the job. I was looking for temporary work, and what better place to start than the ‘gig’s’ section on Craigslist.com. I didn’t feel comfortable looking for a more permanent job, as I will be away for dance training in July. Asking for two weeks off at a brand-new job didn’t seem like a viable option.

As a flyer distributor, I was responsible for promoting a sample sale on designer brands. I worked alone and tried a few different approaches. Some of my coworkers tried to build a rapport with passersby before telling them about the sale event. I took a more time-sensitive, straight-forward and selective approach. I identified and approached people whom I thought would be interested in a designer sale – people who put effort into their outfits, people with designer bags, or people with many shopping bags.

My usual go-to lines were: “I would like to invite you to a flash sale we’re having” and “I think you may like this, we’re having a sale on …”. Sometimes, I opted for the shortened version of simply “designer brands sale! ” and add a few punchlines such as “tops starting at $20, dresses at $40”, or “right beside Best Buy.”

Rejection felt worst on the first day. It took a lot of self-convincing to approach strangers and tell them about the event. I found that not thinking – or acting faster than I could think – helped reduce my nervousness. I also observed that I needed a few seconds to recuperate whenever someone didn’t take a flyer. For example, on the first day, if two fashionistas were walking towards me, and the first one didn’t take a flyer, I would need to take at least five seconds to calm myself before approaching someone else.  

By the second day, I felt more at ease with approaching strangers.

One lady’s behaviour left a big impression on me. I handed her a flyer the first time she walked past me. I think she had already committed to a cold and distant air before knowing what I was offering. She didn’t take the flyer. A few minutes later, she walked back and asked me about the sale. Finally, she walked by a third time after visiting the store. This time, we had a conversation and I saw her face soften for the first time.

My encounter with her illustrated that sometimes, people are not open to receiving potentially valuable things in unfamiliar environments. Sometimes, rejection reveals nothing about the value of the information nor of the value of the person providing that information. Similarly, people’s rejection of the flyers had nothing to do with their rejection of me. Some people had no interest in finding out what the flyer was for, and that’s okay. Others look disgusted and very annoyed. Still others thanked me kindly. Their responds says more about them – what they’re open to and looking for – than it does about me.

Other things that helped me manage rejection were:

  1. knowing what my target demographic was so that fewer rejections occurred. This helped me to direct my energies more effectively.
  2. being sure about the information I wanted to present so that we framed our interaction within that focus.
  3. staying calm and at a maintainable energy level when I approached people. I found that this helped me to be less reactive to rejection. it also made me feel like I was taking to people rather than at them.

Last year, on numerous work occasions, I felt that my self-worth was tied to my manager’s opinions of me. I felt like I wasn’t valued and that he/she spoke to me only when something went wrong. I wanted to become more distant and less controlled by that feeling. Surprisingly, I think this experience of flyer distribution and event promotion was what I needed to distance myself from people’s opinions and judgments of me. I feel less attached to favorable outcomes. I also feel like I am more capable of accomplishing my tasks with confidence and a clear mind.

Thanks for reading!

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I’m very happy to have this opportunity to share my experiences on a larger platform than my personal blog. Sharing is a way to extend and preserve my experiences, and I want this sharing to be as helpful as possible! If there is anything I touched upon that you would like to read more on, please leave a note in the comments, and I will try to make it happen.             

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