There you are, standing on the doorstep. You served an early dinner to your family, got the kids started on homework and laundry, picked up your Home Teaching or Visiting Teaching partner, and now you’re ringing the doorbell of a less active member.

The door opens. You introduce yourself. But instead of a happy smile from someone glad you see you, the person growls, “When are you people going to leave me alone? I’m trying to have a nice evening with my family, and you interrupt it.”

You apologize and try to explain that you were just coming by to see if you could help in any way, let them know you’re there for them, but they’re not listening. “I don’t attend anymore and I’d like you to tell everybody to bug off!” Slam!

And you sigh. First of all, you know exactly what it’s like to want an evening with your family. In fact, you sacrificed that very thing to “search and rescue” tonight. Not only that, but if you’d had their phone number you would have called ahead, instead of popping in. You also have no way to make it known to every member, and everyone who will ever move in and get assigned to this person, that this individual wants no contact. You can put it on the list right now, but in a few months new rosters may get printed, new people won’t know, and this will happen all over again. Our meetings do not begin with a recitation and memorization of every person who wishes we’d drop off the face of the earth.

It’s frustrating on both ends. The person who wishes no further contact must not realize they can remove themselves from our records by writing a letter to the bishop. So we keep showing up, and they feel pestered. And we, on the other hand, are just trying to reach out and be kind. We are not the person who offended them fourteen years ago. We are not trying to get something from them, and we don’t earn money by ringing doorbells.

I’ve had more antagonistic greetings than I can count (the example above is a verbatim conversation), and here’s how I deal with it:

First, and always, don’t engage. Don’t argue back, counter attack, or correct their manners. If you really came here sincerely wanting to help, keep that stance and politely go on your way.

Read the full article at Meridian Magazine.