Occasionally I walk past this cell phone store and sometimes when the store is empty there's an employee (or the owner) standing outside accosting passers by.

He'll make eye contact with people from several meters away as they approach and say "hey can I ask you question?" so they stop and he starts asking them how much they're paying for their service plans and all.

Now, when it's busy on the sidewalk I just smile and mumble hello and keep going but once when it was just me on the sidewalk I couldn't avoid him so I kept walking and smiled awkwardly and he sarcastically said "have a nice day!" as I walked away and I felt like a heel. It's gotten to the point where I take a detour to avoid walking past that store now.

This actually happens with homeless persons too, "hello sir can I ask you a question?", which forces you to either be rude and ignore the person, making your next encounter more awkward, or actually stopping and being put on the spot.

How do I walk past this place without having to stop to give this guy courtesy responses?


1 Answer 1


I have to commute through a busy city (in the UK) which is usually populated with a few of these kinds of people. Some will inevitably give a sarcastic "have a nice day!" because they feel you were being rude, even though it was they who were intruding on your own doings. Some people will impulsively respond like this if they are ignored, it's not something to take personally. One thing to remember is that these people will target hundreds of pedestrians per day. Most of the time, they will see you and forget about you in a few minutes, even if you regularly cross their path. There are a few approaches you can adopt that might help:

  • In the case of sales people, a simple expression of appreciation and rejection usually leaves them not feeling dispirited. I usually just say "Thanks, but no thanks" in a friendly tone or just "I'm alright thanks". If you are certain the people will remember you, this approach will at least leave the lasting impression that you don't need their services, but it also won't give the impression that you hate them! It will also make them less likely to ask you in time if they do remember you.
  • If you want a non-verbal response, I've found just a smile and a quick holding up of my hand suffices. It shows you haven't ignored them (and even with the homeless, less likely to warrant an angry response) and is not aggressive.
  • This one might sound harsh, but one approach is to make yourself look unapproachable. Avoid eye contact and avoid any positive facial expression. Quicken your pace or increase your stride. Make it obvious to the other person that you are on a mission and don't have time for chit-chat. This spares them the indignity of being shot down or ignored by you because they will be more reluctant to ask you something in the first place.
  • For the social engineering technique (if it can be called that) of deliberately standing in front of you, I have feigned ignorance, pardoned myself and walked around them. Whatever you try, keep yourself moving and don't let them bring you to a halt. Hope these help!

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