For Everyone Who Hates Talking on the Phone

For Everyone Who Hates Talking on the Phone

Posted by Dr. Julie Kinn on September 15, 2017

I hate using the phone. Wait, no ― I love using the phone, I just hate talking on it. This post is for all our readers who would rather [insert something you hate to do] than answer the phone. Whether it’s due to anxiety, busy schedules or because we're out of practice, many of us rarely speak by phone these days.

Here are a few tips that have worked for me:

  • Lower the stakes. If you need to make or return a call, do it as soon as possible. Delaying the inevitable increases your anxiety and turns a simple phone call into a burden.
  • Change your voice-mail message. I suggest something like, “Please leave me a message if you’d like a call back. For a faster response, please text me.”
  • Keep a check on your anxiety. If you’re one of the folks who avoid phone calls out of anxiety, ask yourself whether this is really a preference ― or a phobia. When anxiety and fear start preventing you from connecting with others or functioning at work, it’s time to seek help. Check out the AfterDeployment website's section on anxiety or consult with the DCoE Outreach Center for some options.

However, there are a few situations for which phone calls are essential:

  • To apologize: I’ve blogged before about the best ways to say you’re sorry. Let me add one more: apologizing by phone is always better than by text (but in person is always better than over the phone).
     
  • When a person is in pain: If a friend just had a death in the family, a break-up or is dealing with a legal problem, he or she may not feel like talking on the phone. But giving a call anyway can be comforting, even if just to leave a message, especially if you think they might be at risk of hurting themselves or someone else. I recommend saying something like, “Hey, it’s me. Just calling to let you know I’m thinking about you. I’m here if you want to talk or just want to be distracted. Feel free to give me a call or text.”
     
  • To connect with older adults: For some of our parents and other older adults, nothing will replace a phone call. Think of it as a good deed and call your mom once in a while.

What other ideas do you have for connecting with others using technology?

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