Some of you might think that title is strange, but my fellow introverts will understand. The hours of mental preparation that go into making a two minute phone call. The sense of dread when the phone rings and you aren’t ready to talk with someone. The pressure of sounding engaged and alert while thinking fast enough to avoid awkward silences. Most of us view the telephone in much the same way the Dowager Countess of Grantham does.
But I had a truly enjoyable phone conversation with a friend this weekend, and I realized this wasn’t an isolated incident. When he asked for my number my first instinct was panic, then I realized there wasn’t any reason to. I talk with my sister on the phone for hours almost every day. I chat with my dance team when we’re coordinating practice times. I enjoy the unexpected call from my cousin or a select group of friends. Chatting on the phone really isn’t all that scary.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am in many ways a stereotypical introvert in regards to the telephone. We don’t have caller ID on the landline and the calls are rarely for me, so I refuse to answer when it rings unless I recognize the voice and want to talk with them now. My cell phone is set so it doesn’t even ring unless the number is in my contacts list and, in general, I much prefer written communication. There are times, however, when telephones are a preferable method of communication.
I like phones when …
For business communication, e-mail is the best thing ever invented. It’s in writing and both you and the recipient can deal with it in your own time. No worries about coordinating schedules or about mis-remembering the communication. It’s perfect. That’s my feelings on things like making appointments as well (I absolutely love my current hair salon — you can make appointments via e-mail! y’all feel free to be jealous).
If you’re communicating with a friend, though, there are times when you need to ask a question too complicated for text message and it’s just simpler to try and call. And there are times when you just want to talk with them, hear their voice, and enjoy the instant back-and-forth of a verbal conversation without driving hours to connect in-person.
Phone Call Tips
Perhaps you acknowledge that phone calls are at times necessary, even a good idea, but still don’t like them. I totally get it. Even if you want to talk with someone, there are still times the phone triggers your social anxiety or inner hermit and you just wish it’d had never been invented. So here are a few tips for making phone calls better.
You’re under no obligation to answer calls from random, unknown numbers. Use that caller ID. If you want to talk with the person on the other end or think it might be important, pick up. If you need a moment, let it go to voice-mail and then decide how soon you need to call them back.
For calls that you have to make (the ones to people you don’t want to talk with), there’s no shame in writing out a plan. I jot down a list of things I need to talk about or ask before calling doctors, auto mechanics, and all sorts of other people. If phone calls really worry you, you can even do this for calls with friends. Just make a couple notes of conversion starters to use in case of awkward silence.
Craft An Escape Plan
There’s always something you could be doing other than talk on the phone. If you decide to answer a call you don’t want to last very long, just say right up front, “I only have about ___ minutes to talk.” Or if you’ve been talking for a while already, it’s perfectly okay to say, “Well, I have to go. It was nice catching up with you!” This is just a basic healthy boundaries tip: you have the right to politely leave a conversation when you don’t want to talk any more for whatever reason (your introvert batteries are draining, you need to make dinner, etc.).
Talk With Extroverts
People who like to talk will keep a conversation going. Take ENFPs for example. I’ve never had an awkward silence in a conversation with them, nor have the conversations become boring. If you’re working on building confidence when talking on the phone, call one of your extrovert friends.
What are your thoughts on telephones? Do you have any tips to make telephone conversations easier?