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Secret IFA: Polite refusals

I consider myself polite, and don’t go out of my way to be rude. If anything I veer too far in the other direction.

So, when I receive unsolicited job applications or internship requests, I make a point of always replying, even though the answer is always no.

I figure if someone has taken the trouble to write to me, the least I can do is let them know why I cannot offer them a position. I’ll usually write a sentence or two of encouragement, or provide tips on how to put their best foot forward. Occasionally they, however polite, reply with a brief thank you for responding. It’s something of a rarity, I hear.

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Then there are the fund and product salespeople who make unsolicited approaches on a frequent basis. I try to dismiss their approach without being rude, but then it’s taken as an invitation for ongoing dialogue.

It frequently plays out like this: I’m approached about a fund that doesn’t even make it past our investment committee.

The approach is often sufficiently personalised for me to believe it’s not another ‘bog standard’ mass email. On the basis that someone is making an effort I reply saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ and give my reasons. To me that should be enough and they should go and fish in a different pond.

But it never is enough. They come back with another fund, seminar or webinar - anything to deprive me of my time.

What I actually mean when I say, “sorry that isn’t for me” is “go away and leave me alone”. Don’t mistake politeness for something else. There is usually only one solution at that point - to create an email rule to automatically direct them into the ‘delete’ folder.

But fund salespeople are amateurs compared to the recruiters. They are hard-nosed, thick-skinned tenacious creatures that never give up. Even I have learned not to respond but it doesn’t seem to stop them.

It doesn’t stop even when I report them as spam. They simply find me on Twitter. It’s a very unsocial media when that happens.

Maybe I should “man up” and be more forthright about what I actually mean. It would save a lot of trouble. But I can’t help feeling it would make me less British and more like an American - and that would never do. So I’ll carry on being polite, saying one thing and meaning another, and if they were a bit more on the ball, they’d know that.