Irrational Fear Week – Day 1: The Phone
Each day this week I’ll write a post about a fear that I used to have (some I still have) and how I have dealt with it in order illuminate some of the strange things we allow to get in between us and living a full and productive life.
I used to hate talking on the phone. Especially with strangers. I was what you could call a “phoneaphobe.” I would avoid it at all costs. When I was working for myself, I would dread that initial sales call. I’d dread it even if a potential client emailed me and asked me to call them. Hard to build a business without conversations. This didn’t exactly help in the dating department, either. I think I will always prefer communicating via email or talking in person.
I’ve thought about this problem a lot over the years. A big part of the phone fear is feedback. There is very little feedback when you talk on the phone with someone. I’m a bit of a social idiot at times, and need those visual cues from a person to feel out a conversation. Are they listening? Irritated? Amused? Waiting to speak but can’t get a moment to talk because I won’t shut up? None of that comes across a phone line when you can’t see anybody.
You too have the phoneaphobia bug? Tell me you don’t feel a little bit of dread when you hear that ring tone. When you look down at your ringing smartphone and think about having to talk to someone. It’s OK. Just let it go to voicemail.
I have pretty much cured my phone fear over the last three years. Oddly enough, it happened by working for the phone company. Yes, the phone company.
As a design manager at AT&T, I ended up spending anywhere from 4 to 6 hours a day on phone calls with people in other cities. Usually strangers. As time went on, I got used to those strangers. Got used to the awkward silences and bad connections. Dealt with the limited feedback loop, and learned to use all those limitations to my advantage. By the end of my stint there, I was a conference call badass.
Now, while I won’t say that I love the phone, I will say I’ve make use of it rather than let it limit me. How? One word: doodles!
See you tomorrow for Day 2!