If you’re like me, you receive about 10 to 15 calls a week from telemarketers, creditors, or even frauds. They’re a waste of time, and it’s easy to get annoyed by them. However, there are many reasons not to let them bother you.
Silence is Golden
First of all, you don’t have to respond. You are in control of the conversation. You can say absolutely nothing if you wish. However, it may not be necessary to go to this extreme. A few words won’t really hurt.
So, what should you say? I recommend something that is quick and to the point, but not hateful. After all, remember that these are PEOPLE we are talking with. No matter what they have done, and no matter what a crappy job they have chosen for themselves, they still deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. But it’s also important that you offer them no advantage, not even at the start of the conversation.
A popular trick that is used in these sort of calls is to get you to say the word “yes” as quickly as possible. The reasoning is that if you say “yes” early on, you will want to say “yes” over and over again, until you are eventually finding yourself on the losing end of a thousand dollar transaction. So, the obvious goal is to never say “yes.” When the conversation begins and the person on the other side asks you “Are you Mr. (or Mrs) So-and-so?” you should quickly respond, “May I ask who’s calling?” Try it. You’ll often find that they’ll ask their first question again. After all, they’re still trying to get you to say “yes.” Silly, isn’t it? But if you respond the same way again, they’ll usually tell you what organization they are calling for. This is when you have a great advantage.
Thanks, But No Thanks
All you have to do now is say, “Thank you, but no thank you.” It’s sort of a contradiction. You are nicely thanking them for the job they are doing, by treating them fairly and with respect. But you are also letting them know, “Hey, I have better things to do with my time.” And then you can hang up. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Still, for some people, even this approach seems too blunt. There are many people who feel obligated to give these telemarketers a chance to say what they’re getting paid to say. Or possibly, when an all-expense-paid trip to Fiji is mentioned as a prize, they begin to dream about the need to get away from their worries for a little while. Either way, there is no reason to waste time listening to this nonsense. As I said, most of the time that you will spend talking to any of these people is going to require you to say what they want you to say. And what they want you to say is “YES.” So, if you are as disinterested as I am in the things they are trying to tell you about, I recommend that you end the conversation as soon as you possibly can.
Cease and Desist
Sometimes, perhaps you are not sure that you CAN end the conversation. I am referring specifically to a conversation with a creditor. Let’s say that, through no fault of your own, you had an unexpected hospital stay that your insurance doesn’t seem to be willing to cover completely, and the bill that remains seems massive. First, of course, you can talk about negotiating a payment plan. But if this does not solve everything, you should realize that this creditor does not have a right to continue to call you if you do not want for them to. There are magic words that will make them stop: CEASE AND DESIST. Once you say this, they are legally obligated to stop calling. If for any reason they do not, they can be reported. I emphasize that you are in control of these conversations, not them. Be careful, of course, with a creditor, because you want to avoid a bad credit rating. However, you do not need to be bullied by someone over the phone.
Protecting Your Privacy
Because of identity theft concerns, the telephone has become a weapon. It is just about as dangerous as a gun being held to your head. The only difference is that the ammunition that it uses is your own words. Only you can injure yourself with what you say over the phone. For this reason more than any other, I urge you to say no more than is necessary. Be simple and direct. Make it a rule with these people to always end with “Thank you, but no thank you.”