Does anyone else have a horror of talking on the phone? I have hated using the phone since I was a child, although it is hard to pin down exactly why I dislike it so much. I think my main difficulty is 'reading' how a conversation is going when I can't see the other person. I pause for too long, or jump in too soon, or struggle to pick up crucial info from their tone - is this a bad time to call? am I making myself clear?
I am currently going through a work-related nightmare scenario where I have been asked to make loads of phone calls - in a situation I have always previously handled by email - and I feel stressed and anxious about all the time: anticipating the calls, making the calls, reflecting on the calls. It is supposed to be making everyone feel encouraged, but if any of the hapless recipients are like me they will be thoroughly put off!
I have always thought this was just a random failure on my part, but now I am wondering whether it is integral to my nature.
Thanks for all the responses, folks. I feel both reassured that I am not the only one with this fear-and-loathing, and at the same time even more worried about the distress I may be passing on down the line as I phone people who (potentially) don't want to be phoned! I have tried to handle that by emailing people to arrange a specific time to speak on the phone, so that I am not barging in and taking them by surprise, but then why use the phone at all? Grrrrr.
I think I do need to have a conversation with my employer about it - although I am not quite sure how - because even if I manage to complete the task this time around, I know it will come up again in future. And frankly I am quite angry that they haven't thought this through, given the nature of the organisation and the huge range of people we are working with.
On the other hand, part of my problem is that I have got so used to working on my own, and largely on my own terms, that I am simply out of practice in doing the things that one is normally expected to do out there in the world...
I used to have a terrible fear of using the phone until I was put in a situation during my first job in a small shop, where I had to answer the phone. As much as I panicked and probably made a fool of myself, it forced me to practice and get better at taking phone calls. That doesn't mean I like them though. I still hate taking unexpected phone calls and will often put non-scheduled calls through to my voicemail at work. If it is urgent, then they will leave a message. This also applies to my mother, much to her despair.
I am better at handling calls that are scheduled, so I know when to expect them, which is the route you seem to be taking. One thing I haven't mastered is knowing when to speak and I often talk over people or leave top bigger gaps in the conversation. Best thing to do is accept you may never be perfect at it, but you can practice to a point that the anxiety is mostly removed and you are able to handle the calls at least. Try pacing your calls out as well if you can, as taking one call after the next is tasking for anyone! Good luck!
Thanks! You're right: practice is the key. Funnily enough I have just been dealing with a family emergency - not a major one and not close family, so a bit of adrenaline pumping but brain working reasonably well! - and with that energy propelling me, I had no difficulty picking up the phone and calling a complete stranger at the other end of the country.
My mother's consistent grumble about my not answering the phone is that 'it might be an emergency' to which my stock response is 'if it is an emergency, call 999. The hospital will call me'. I think she thinks I'm joking...