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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fear of the Phone

I have to confess something.

I hate talking on the phone. I hate making phone calls. I hate it. I hate phones!!

Oh, there was a time in my life when I didn't hate talking on the phone. I think I spent my entire 3 years of middle school with a receiver permanently attached to my ear. We were one of the first people around to get call waiting because my mom was a real estate agent and none of her clients could get anything other than a busy signal if I was in the house. My friend Becky and I used to spend 3 hours a day prank calling and doing other random things with the phone.

(Becky's sister had 3-way calling. We would call one friend, then quickly three way call a second friend and connect them back up before either one answered. Then, stay silent while listening to two friends argue over who called who. Hilarity ensued -- at least to a 14 year old).

So, The Oatmeal came out with 10 Reasons to Avoid Talking on the Phone and it is SO TRUE. I hate ALL OF THOSE THINGS.

Let's especially look at #2 - The Impulsive. I can't tell you how many times I've committed myself to something because I didn't know what to say on the phone besides "yes." I was just unprepared. My favorite of these turned out good, though. When I first interviewed for my job at Sam Goody (in 1994), I decided after the interview that I didn't want the job anymore. The next day, when the manager called and offered me the job, though, I somehow couldn't find the words to tell him I didn't want it. I figured I'd quit my first night. I ended up working there for a year and a half.

#3 - The Jagged. Both Todd and I are always doing this to each other. It is frustrating. My mom and I do it, too. Those two happen to be the two people that I most enjoy talking to on the phone.

#6 - The Distracted. Or, my sister, who is constantly talking to her kids while I'm talking to her.

#7 - The Lecturer. Todd is always saying that from his side, when I talk to my mom it sounds like I don't get to ever put in a word edgewise.

#9 - The Anxious. I think this is my biggest thing. I'm always wondering when the right time is to end the call, and I start freaking out about it.

#10 - The Epic Goodbye - Either of my sisters do this. I wonder what happens when they talk on the phone to each other.

Still, my dislike and even kind of general fear of talking on the phone goes beyond rational. I don't like to call to order take out food. I prefer to call this one particular pizza place near us because they know my address and name by my telephone number, so I can just give them my order and quickly hang up.

I won't call friends. I will send an email.

Todd: We're going to be late to so-and-so's house. Can you call them and let them know?
Kim: Really?
Todd: Yeah, just call them real quick.
Kim: uh... Can't you call?
Todd: I'm driving. Just call and say we're going to be late.
Kim: Well, I mean, they know we're coming.
Todd: We're going to be late. We should tell them.
Kim: Maybe we should wait a few minutes and see if we can make the time up?

This will go on for an insane amount of time. Usually, I'll finally call.

This problem has caused me issues. I don't make doctor's appointments. I don't call friends. I don't RSVP. People think I'm nuts because I do everything via email.

It's really weird. I don't get it. I need a support group or something.

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds (Creative Commons)


Lacey said...

lol i support you!! i feel exactly the same way, tho i'm fine ordering take out:) i just hate calling or answering calls. it's always like... uhhh do i have to. i'm email all the way. i didn't think anyone else was like that!!!! we are such a phone talking dominated society!!! and gosh SKYPE!!! scares the heck out of me i'm pretty sure i will never use it.

Lacey said...

oh and i love roald dahl!!! he's prolly tied w/ shel silverstein and lois lowry for me!

Abby said...

I am pretty much the same way about the phone - half of the time when it rings I let it go to voice mail rather than answering. Of course, I also refused to speak to waiters as a child since I was so shy, so it might be related to that. I especially dread client calls at work - I don't feel like I give good answers of the cuff, and would much rather that they email me their questions so I can put some thought into how to phrase my response. This especially true when talking to clients who don't understand statistics, so I have to figure out a good way to quickly explain error ranges or some such concept that they don't have the background for.

Kim said...

Abby, I was afraid to talk to waiters and waitresses as a child, too! I think we must be on to something here.

Something that is really bad for me is job interviews. I suck at them anyway, but a telephone interview is the WORST. And, at least in IT, they're pretty popular these days.

Nick said...

I hated talking on the phone after working at T. Rowe Price. On the phones for 8 hours a day 5 days a week is a sure-fire way to make you hate the phone.

Erika said...

I have actually been on anxiety forums where "phone phobia" is a major topic. I hate it too. When the phone rings my heart starts racing and I'll just let it go to voicemail. To make a phone call (especially at work) I have to sit and rehearse what I'm gonna say and contemplate making a script, lol. Glad I'm not the only one! :P Yea, and this totally wasn't an issue in middle school as well!

Kim said...

@Nick - Tastefully Simple did that for me too. At least with TRP it was people calling YOU. Imagine being the one calling and interrupting people. Most of the time, people were nice (as I wasn't cold calling, these were people I'd met before), but it was SO STRESSFUL.

@Erika - I'll leave it to Voice mail, too. Sometimes just to know what the person wanted so I'm prepared when I call them back...

Kitzzy said...

Wow, DITTO! I used to love the phone, but ever since email, IM, facebook, and text messaging I just don't want to call anyone. Why spend a half an hour on the phone when a 10 sec text message or email will do? Then people can respond on their own time.

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