After all, they are real people doing a job. There's no point treating them with disrespect.
Example - I just got off the phone with a telemarketer. Here's how it went.
TELEMARKETER: Hello, may I speak with Mr. Lefjlkaliufdkjlalkflj [indeterminable gibberish as he tries, desperately, to pronounce my last name. The poor guy. There should be a sympathy greeting card for having to go through all that in front of a complete stranger]
ME: Yes, this is Mr Whatever-You-Just-Tried-To-Say. How can I help you?
TELEMARKETER: [laughs] You have a good sense of humour.
ME: You need to have one with a last name like mine. I used to run out of pencil whenever I wrote my name on the top of a homework assignment in school. But do you know what might make me feel better?
TELEMARKETER: What is that?
ME: If someone would just call me, right out of the blue and let me know that they're having a promotion of special prices, in this area, offering full service duct cleaning for my entire home.
TELEMARKETER: Well, sir that's precisely why I'm calling.
ME: I know. I'm just playing with you. Remember what I said about needing to have a good sense of humour. I find it helps to do that instead of getting frustrated with unsolicited calls like this despite me asking repeatedly, to be taken off your list. I understand, you're just doing your job and the machine automatically dials. So I'll ask politely if you can please take me off your list, or put me on your do not call list -- however it best works. I don't need any duct cleaning services. I just had some done and I feel like a new man. [I take a deep breath to illustrate how healthy my lungs sound with the clean ducts of my home, desperately hoping that I don't sound too much like Darth Vader]
TELEMARKETER: I will do that, sir. Thanks for your patience.
ME: Excellent. Thank you. And have a wonderful evening. Will talk to you again tomorrow night, I'm sure.
TELEMARKETER: [laughs as he hangs up and says good night]
Okay, I've might have changed the script a tiny bit to make myself sound more intelligent and witty than the way it really went down. I am a fiction writer, after all; and besides, we always remember our own roles as being more intelligent/classy/witty than they actually were. Don't we?
But that's about the gist of the call. We've gotten an average of 2 "duct cleaning" calls per week on and off for the past few months, so it was a good guess on my part as to why he was calling.
And what I'm really just trying to do is make a simple point.
I'm human. The guy on the other end of the phone is human. I don't need duct cleaning, and I'm not happy to be repeatedly called from whatever sucker list I thought I was taken off of. But yelling at him or being rude to him isn't going to make my evening or his evening any better. The deed is done, the moment is now, here we are, too unwilling participant strangers meeting during the dinner hour.
So I tossed in a bit of humour, joked with him, we both laughed, and life went on.
I need to remind myself to take advantage of these types of moments whenever possible. After all, life's too short not to look for little ways to bring a smile into the equation.