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How To Deal With Rude People While Canvassing

Imagine you are leading a political canvassing operation. You have both volunteers and paid canvassers to reach your goal of 50,000 homes in four weeks. What do you do?

You hire and involve capable people, you integrate your ground operations into a CRM or a voter contact platform, and entrust your deputy field directors and field organizers to manage smaller groups of paid and volunteer canvassers. Everything’s coming together: your numbers are high in the first week, you are well on your way to your goal, and everyone is enjoying the fresh air. However, your walkers start to have problems with rude people and folks not answering their doors. Suddenly, numbers begin to drop as does canvasser motivation and retention. Immediately, you enter into panic mode, and you start to identify what could be the problem.

Can you relate?

If you can relate to this scenario, you understand how tough canvassing can be. You can also relate to the challenge of educating your canvassers–especially those who are new to grassroots organizing–that voters are not always going to enjoy a political activist on their doorstep.

It’s up to you as a leader to educate your canvassers on what to expect and how to deal with anger, frustration, and rejection.

Consider these tips

 

  • The data isn’t always “perfect”: The convenience of the digital age doesn’t guarantee accuracy in the data your canvassers are using. Having slight errors in your data could put canvassers in compromising and awkward situations when, or if, they contact the right person with the wrong data or the wrong person with the correct data.
  • Not everyone is going to open the door: According to MyCampaign Coach, 30% of the doors you canvas will open. It’s not anything personal–or intentionally rude, it’s just the established trend.
  • Don’t take people’s frustration personally: Angry voters rarely get outlets to raise their political grievances to other people (outside of social media). You going to their door provides them with one. Their rudeness and anger, if it arises, could be targeted at something entirely different and is likely to have nothing to do with you.
  • Don’t waste anyone’s time: Not only do you lose time trying to convince someone to take a survey who doesn’t want to, but, having an interaction that exceeds 1 to 3 minutes could cause some unwanted hostility.

It’s just canvassing

Chances are, the angry voters you contact are just like you–people who want to change the political landscape of the country for the better–and share your commons goals. Being personally prepared for an intensive person-to-person experience like canvassing allows you and your team to be ready for curveballs.

It should also be noted that political canvassing, though it may seem ridiculous and challenging at times, is a time-tested and proven process for contacting voters.

It can be frustrating, upsetting, and it is likely that your organization could have retention problems at some point. Yet, the hard work pays off. Like the motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar said, “Your input determines your outlook. Your outlook determines your output, and your output determines your future.”

Other Resources

How Do You Respond To Sidewalk Activists? – National Public Radio

6 Keys to Effective Canvassing – MyCampaign Coach

Political canvassing Tips for your Door-to-Door Campaign – CallHub

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