I know that knocking on doors is usually used in metaphor about exploring opportunity. However, in this case I mean literally knocking on doors. Thousands of them.
Over the past 6 weeks, I have been lucky enough to have a short-term position in which a colleague and I knocked on 2,377 doors for a proposed project. While I have knocked on plenty of doors for plenty of campaigns, this was by far the most intensive number and timeline I’ve experienced.
Exposure Therapy FTW
I’m an introvert by nature and can feel pretty shy around people I’ve only just met. Taking the initiative to introduce myself to someone gives me heart palpitations, I don’t mind telling you. When volunteering on a campaign, historically I would rather have done all the unsexy spreadsheet work in the world than knock on strangers’ doors.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the 125th door for this canvassing project: I started to actually hope someone was home so that I could talk to them. My coworker and I agreed that, by the 3rd or 4th day of knocking, we were excited to meet up and get to work.
What changed? Exposure therapy! This is a process of identifying a fear and then leaning into it gradually. For example, my fear of heights is why I stuck with rock climbing. Similarly, being afraid of social rejection is a reason not to want to knock on doors. However, with a list of over 2000 doors to canvass, one needs to suck it up and find a way through. We developed a bit of a shtick that broke the ice quickly, and from there we left space for folks to share their feelings. I love listening to people’s stories, so it became a delight to go to a new door, wondering what stories it held.
Attack Cats Are Real!
My Dad was a repo man for a while, and I got to learn a fair bit from him about dealing with dogs and ways to determine potential weapon threats (maybe that can be a future blog post). I was on the lookout for attack dogs and guns, which are definitely not my favorite. What I didn’t prepare for were attack cats! Wow, they are a thing. There were three doors I had to mark inaccessible because those cats were *not* letting me up on the porch. A fourth cat was inside a glass door; and I was a little afraid that it was going to break the door down with how hard he was launching himself against the glass to try to eat me.
Shave and a Haircut
How one knocks matters. In the Emerge program I’m currently lucky to participate in, we talked about how we knock. One Emerge sister is trained as a police officer, and she had to relearn her knocking technique on the campaign trail. Another Emerge sister suggested the “shave and a haircut” knock. It’s definitely the winner.
Your Agenda, Their Porch
Finally, one helpful thing to remember when knocking on someone’s door that the interaction may be on their porch, but it’s your agenda at a time of your convenience. Don’t expect the red carpet treatment, don’t be upset if they tell you to buzz off, and be respectful of their time.
What I learned at life today: Knocking on doors doesn’t have to be the slice of hell that it might suggest to introverts.
Featured image photo credit: Paul McIlroy