Phone Phobias

When I was a kid, I used to be afraid to answer the phone. And I never liked making phone calls. I have this early memory of answering the phone and not being sure what to say. Someone at the other end must have thought I was very cute. For stumbling. And the person laughed. I was sure they were laughing at me, for not knowing what to say. So I really hated picking up the phone. Sometimes it would ring and ring in my family, and no one really wanted to pick it up.

I conquered some of my phone fears by working as a temp at the end of college in a variety of firms in the Boston area. And when I worked at MIT, I actually started enjoying answering the phone. “Good morning, this is the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, how may I help you?” Since I was an early bird and I often got to work before the receptionist, the early morning phone calls were often a professor or researcher from Europe, speaking in some kind of thick European accent. Usually quite friendly. A fun element was added to answering the phone. But what helped the most was having a script. There was a formula for what to say, so it made the process easier.

Now that I have kids of my own, I often prod them to make their own phone calls (when they are little; not teenagers!). And I give suggestions for what to say–“Please”, “Thank You”, “May I please speak with…”, “so-and-so is not available; can I have them call you back?” If they give me that “Ma, leave me alone” look, I know I have succeeded, and I back off.

A few years ago our Cub Scout Pack held its annual food drive, and a friend and I wrote a script for the Cub Scouts to use as they asked neighbors to donate food. I think having a script helped build the boys’ confidence in making the requests.

The worst part of the phone is that it interrupts. What’s a good time for others may not be a good time for me. I am not a night person, so those evening phone calls are always bothersome for me. But early in the morning I can send five emails, and I haven’t woken anyone from their morning slumber!

Anyone out there have any phone phobias to share? Or maybe you have email phobias, or commenting on blog phobias…

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2 thoughts on “Phone Phobias

  • I have phone phobia!
    I don’t want to blame it all on my mother. That’s usually too easy. Well, my mother didn’t like answering the phone and it started before answering machines so I remember the phone just ringing and ringing. I think I picked up on that feeling that it was something to be avoided. Feared. Something mysterious.
    I admit, now I never answer the phone without screening. The few times I just pick it up cold, it’s almost always a telemarketer!
    E-mail is another story. I LOVE e-mail. E-mail is a “phone-phobics” dream come true.

  • >E-mail is a “phone-phobics” dream come true
    And I’ve worked with people who will answer my email by calling me on the phone. For them, it is much easier to express themselves verbally. Then there are those that have their cellphones attached to their ears (can you imagine? I’m the one who always forgets to turn the darn thing on), so they can be on the phone at any time.

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