Why Phone Calls Terrify Me (and Some Research About It)

It seems to be a stereotype amongst the Millennials and Gen Z to be afraid of phone calls and making calls. And it seems to be true, in terms of my own self.

I hate making phone calls/answering phone calls. It gives me real anxiety and it truly scares me. So I wondered, where did the stereotype come from? Or why are people my age so scared of answering/making phone calls? I decided to look at a couple of articles, and here’s what I found:

According to a survey done by BankMyCell, who talked to more than 1,200 Millennials, the main reasons we avoid calls are as follows: time consumption, work responsibilities, being heard on the phone in personal surroundings, and the ‘person’ factor. The ‘person’ factor, as I call it, are the neediness, annoying, whiny, confrontation-y part of the phone calls. Someone else made a good point, saying, “It’s simple: if you text or email someone, they can respond on their time. But if you call someone, they need to respond right now on your time. It’s just inconsiderate.” (Andy Meek).

Another article had an example panic monologue that went something like this:

“Wait, what if she asks me a question I don’t have the answer to? What if I try to explain things using my hands and nothing makes any sense without my excellent hand gestures? What if the connection dies mid-sentence and my incomplete thought makes me sound like I hate HR? Oh no, what if I have to leave a voicemail?” (Peter Du)

The fear of embarrassment seems to be heightened amongst the Millennials as well, which may contribute. (And when I tried to look up some articles about that, all I got were articles written by people that said they were embarrassed to be a Millennial, so that didn’t help). This I understand. Phone calls are in the moment, and the last thing you want to do is say something wrong.

I did look into other articles, but the problem became the hostility toward Millennials being glued to their phones yet are cowards enough not to answer it. They’re precious little babies that whine about everything. (Obviously, I don’t agree, but that’s what the articles summarized). Rude.

So, to conclude the first half, Millennials tend to be fearful of phone calls because it’s time consuming (which is inconsiderate), they can get confrontational, and embarrassment may happen.

Now, what about me? When I say I’m scared to make phone calls, I mean I could get a panic attack from it (great, considering making phone calls is 65% of my current job). It gives me so much anxiety! Why? Well…

It hearkens back to my undergrad college when I had a job at a call center. I was already an anxious bean, but phone calls weren’t the worst thing ever so I thought I could handle it. Until I actually worked there. Two reasons: the callees and the coworkers. The callees were a special kind of rude because, while we were not selling anything, we were doing political surveys about candidates and hot-button issues like gun laws. I’ll allow you to use your imagination, but I was in a constant state of fear or sorrow.

My coworkers were something else. You had no choice in your hours, bathroom breaks were ordained (and you only got one a shift), you couldn’t take a break from calling because your computer would automatically call for you and you couldn’t stop it, and the supervisors were ruthless. They always listened in on your calls and would tell you everything you did wrong during your call. If you didn’t reach a quota (because that’s totally your fault), your pay was docked. You couldn’t socialize with anyone around you, as proven by getting bad marks for saying hi to a castmates son who worked there too. And here’s where it became very obvious that they didn’t care: I got very sick and lost my voice, which means I couldn’t talk on the phone. When I let them know, they just rolled their eyes and said I can take a day but that’s my only day off I’m allowed (because one of the rules was that we were only allowed one day off in nine months).

TLDR; I’m terrified of phones because I was traumatized. I’m scared people will yell at me, I’m scared people will treat me like garbage, I’m scared I’ll do something wrong, I’m scared that I’m not allowed to do anything else while on the phone because it’ll royally mess me up.

Anyway, I’m screwed over when it comes to calls.

And yet I have to do it every day because income is more important than anything else.

Dammit.

(DISCLAIMER: I have a good job, and being on the phone at work is getting easier because I just use a character, ‘White Collar Alexandra’. I was very aware when I was offered my job that I would be very involved with phone calls)

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