The Joys of Phone Phobia

It takes me a significant amount of balls to answer the phone, and even more balls to pick up the phone to make a call. I hate the phone, specifically when there is a stranger on the other end of it. Talking on the phone is just flat out awkward. Normally, I tend to write about INTJ-specific subjects, but I think this ventures more into the broad introvert spectrum. Since the INTJ tends to be more introverted than the general league of introverts, perhaps it is a little more common than I realize.

In the 80s and 90s, when I was growing up, I did ok with the phone…as long as I knew the person on the other end of it. The phone was important to us back then, as it was one of the only lines of communication, outside of writing and folding notes, of which I was the master. If text messaging had been a thing back then, I guarantee I would have used the phone infinitely less. My father, whom I suspect is an INFJ, was a phone phobe. I didn’t understand it back then, but I do now, since I seem to outdo him tenfold.

As sad as it is, I have avoided utilizing services from businesses, simply because they didn’t have an online option. Last summer, I selected the company I chose to mow my lawn simply based on the fact that I could schedule the service online. Sure, there were companies with better reviews and nicer websites, but they required that I pick up the phone to schedule service. Negative.

Nothing quite captures the dread involved with having to pick up the phone and make a call. I quite literally hear the soundtrack from psycho running the musical score on my thought process. Do I dare look at it? Thank goodness for caller ID….and why does it have to make that noise?!

When my phone rings with an unknown number, I have mastered the art of lightning fast Google phone number searches. Something I recognize that is important? Answer it. No results? Don’t. Everyone who knows me knows to call twice if they want me to answer. That is the emergency signal, and I typically only answer the phone for 3 people; My mom and my 2 children. Everyone else can leave a voicemail.

In the event I actually have to speak on the phone, I better be in a soundproof anechoic chamber or something similar. I have been known to escape to my running vehicle to talk on the phone. Why? God forbid someone else has to overhear my awkwardness. It is bad enough the person on the other end of the line has to endure it, but knowing that someone may overhear it only magnifies the intensity. I was the kid you would find by following the phone cord under the door of the coat closet, and that habit has yet to escape me. This has equal bearing on both personal and professional calls. I can’t begin to tell you how many phone interviews I have taken in my vehicle; I just can’t speak with any comfort or confidence if I feel I am being overheard. A psychological condition? Perhaps, but I am almost 40, I have learned to live with it and I am comfortable with that.

Also published on Medium.

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