Are You Polite to Telemarketers
and Solicitors?


No one enjoys dealing with telemarketers and solicitors when they aren't interested in what is being sold.  And many times, the annoyance of someone interrupting your day is enough to send you into a tirade.  After all, they usually call or knock on your door at the most inconvenient times.  

I recently saw an article featuring the many ways you can purposefully give telemarketers a hard time.  There is lots of online information on how to vet legitimate company representatives, and methods for dealing with them that in no way fall into a polite category.  In fact, there are many suggestions to use the occasion to “have a little fun” so you can justify being impolite.

However, my method is based on the idea that I always want to be etiquette-ful.  No matter what the situation, I want to aim for that.

My Polite Decline

If I receive a telemarketing call and am sure there is a real person on the other end, and I don’t want to know more, nor do I want to have any further conversation, I employ the following protocol:

  1. I get the person’s attention with a nice, but firm, “Excuse me.” 
  2. Once the telemarketer acknowledges I say, “No thank you.  I am not interested.”
  3. They always have a reply or attempt to employ a redirection, but I say, “Excuse me,” again and restate my declination by letting the person know that I have said “no,” would like to be removed from their call list, and that I am going to hang up the phone. 
  4. I wish them a good day to close my end of the call.  “Have a good day,” or, “Best wishes for your personal success in life finding what you do best.”  I aim to mean it, though I do not intend to remain in conversation.
  5. Then I hang up and, when possible, block future calls from that number.

This procedure is also my template for unwanted solicitation of any kind.  If you are face to face with someone soliciting you, the framework might expand at the edges, but never give excuses, and point out that you don’t want to waste the person’s or your time with further discussion.

Telemarketers and Solicitors Are Human, Too

Though they may be in a profession that doesn't garner very much respect, telemarketers and solicitors are still human beings.  And as fellow human beings, they should be treated with civility. 

However, this does not mean that you owe them the same amount of pleasantries and attention as the neighbor who knocks on your door, or the friend who calls you for a chat.  What I do recommend is that you avoid adding drama to the situation by toying vengefully or letting your anger take control.

Perhaps remembering that these folks have legitimate work, just as you do, and most likely have families to support will help you recognize the human aspect of their situation.

But If They're Not Human

More and more telemarketing companies are resorting to robocalls to market their products and services.  This is when you receive a phone call that sounds like a human, but is actually a recorded message. 

At the end of the recorded message, you are asked to press a digit on your phone to speak to a company representative.  However, most times if you keep listening, you are also given the opportunity to press a digit to be removed from the company's call list.

This is sometimes helpful, and sometimes not.  But at least you are presented with a choice to opt out of future calls.

Keep Your Goal in Mind

I have family members who have been telemarketers and solicitors of products I would not buy, and have learned from these relatives that they were trained to overcome any argument or protest.  They aren’t supposed to feel bad when someone hangs up on them.  They know people will try to “be polite,” and hope that’s when they’ll get a word in edgewise to make their sale.

If your goal is to not waste your time listening to a sales pitch, to be rid of the annoying interruption you've experienced as quickly as possible, and feel good about remaining civil, then following the polite decline above is recommended.

It is possible to say "no" and politely exit a solicitation with self-respect, and the knowledge that if it were your child or relative on the other end, they would have been treated fairly considering the situation.

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