USians have to control their own information. This can be done without rancor.
There isn't any need to feel you're a jerk when you are clear and firm about what you want. Attempts to make you feel jerkish about your own rights are cynical and deliberate departures from good manners and it is important that you not let people get away with them.
When asked for -any information you want to control- ask why. Say, for example, "That is my personal information and it is of value. You need to convince me that I want you to have it." This throws seven in ten sales people since they are usually 'just following orders', and can't deliver a sensible story in support of the question. These will simply mutter "never mind, then." One of the remaining three will deliver a clear lie, to which you simply say no. One will give you a cogent argument, with plausible content, that you won't accept (these people deserve your continuing patience and kindness), and the remaining one will deliver an argument with which you might be able to agree.
Sales people are trained to try to get the information quickly. Do not allow their body language, delivery speed or urgent tone to hurry you. They, not you, are playing a game -to their benefit-. You have no obligation to play too. It is not -your- moment of unpleasantness, it is theirs. Keep the unpleasantness where it belongs.
To digress a little for the sake of examples, telemarketers are especially trained to use your good manners against you to get what they want. Our own good manners lead us to try and keep communication "in-band". If you must pick up the telephone in real time, and haven't figured out how to screen your calls with a machine, first try to confuse telemarketers' machinery. When you say "Hello", say it once and wait. Do you hear a hiss? If you do, wait. In a few seconds, you may hear a faint click and someone will -then- say "Hello?" That's your clue, this is a machine monitoring a large number of circuits to see who will answer. This is ill-mannered, out-of-band communication. Who -do you know- would call you, ignore your greeting, then at -his convenience- try to determine if you are on the line? When you call someone -you- await the convenience of the person you called, right? Simply hang up if this scenario plays out, or be prepared to speak for a short time to a telemarketer.
When speaking to a telemarketer, get through the social niceties if you must, then -insist- on being placed on their "do not call" list. A very good script for this can be found at Junkbusters.
Engaging in social niceties (how are you, I'm well, bla bla) is an attempt to convince you the communication is in-band, and at the same time to lead you into a script. Do not let it go there; a mannerly person will announce his name first then state his business. Inverting this script is out of band in the first place, and you -know the drill-. Without compromising your own manners, you need to defeat that. The telemarketer will say "Hello Mr. Hovnbg, how are you tonight?" Say -nothing-. The script will play out like this:
(T)"Hello, Mr. Hovnbg, how are you tonight?"
(You) (embarrassed silence in recognition of caller's faux pas)
(You)"This is Mr. Hovnbg. With whom am I speaking?"
(Now you control the conversation.)
(T)"How are you tonight, Mr. Hovnbg?"
(You)"With whom am I speaking?"
By not responding to an out of band question, one which a mannerly person would never ask, you retain control over the conversation. You are going to get an answer about who's calling, or the person on the other end will ask tiresomely "How are you?" to which you can now answer, in band and truthfully, "I am cross with you. State your name and business, please."
You can now go to the Junkbusters script and get rid of this person.
If your own manners are not an issue, you can make your own out-of-band response at any point. Talking about 'turnips, half-crowns or pocketwatches' worked a hundred years ago and it works today.
"What they really fear is machine-gunning politicians becoming a popular sport, like skate-boarding." -Nicolas Freeling
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