1. Telephone phobia (telephonophobiatelephobia, phone phobia) is reluctance or fear of making or taking phone calls, literally, “fear of telephone”. It is considered to be a type of social phobia or social anxiety.
    Having a genuine fear of telephones in this day and age sounds absolutely ridiculous. But I do. I’m not sure if it’s the idea of not been in control when you say hello (as in the conversation can go either way) or not knowing who’s on the other end of the line and there’s some days I’m just too exhausted to ‘perform’.
    It sounds absurd but it’s a very real fear that encroaches on my social life and my business (current and future). It also keeps me from going back to my old profession, which is PR.
    I prefer the good ol’ days where if someone wanted to reach you they called you on your home phone. If somebody was available to take a message they would and you would return the call when you got home. There wasn’t a huge panic if you didn’t phone back. The person would simply call again the next day. At a reasonable hour. Weekends when the phone rang you knew it was a friend or family member. Business calls didn’t happen. Not on a Saturday and definitely not on a Sunday. 
    Communication via technology has created additional stress to most of our lives. But to someone who dreads a ringing telephone, it feels a million times worse. Also, the various forms of communication have created a paranoia that didn’t exist a few years back. 
    Here’s an example. Ben isn’t well. In fact he’s really sick. And clingy. He nods off to sleep but if I leave his side he jolts awake. To keep me as close as possible he’s taken to entwining his arm in mine, which was cute the first 20 times he did it. Now I just feel like a hostage. 
    Late this morning, maybe from the stress, I felt one of my headaches coming on so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone. Lying with Ben while getting rid of my headache made sense. I put my phone on silent and ended up falling asleep.
    I woke up to 17 missed calls, 8 whatsapp messages, a Facebook message and an email. All from the same person. I checked the times of the phone calls. One, two minute intervals between each. After the calls, the whatsapp was sent, then the fb message and finally the mail. Which was from a potential client, who wanted to chat about an event. But in their mail they said that they had tried the entire day to get hold of me and me not responding clearly meant I didn’t want to do their function. 
    Wait! What? I don’t want to do YOUR function? Because I didn’t answer the phone? How do you arrive at that conclusion? Even if you’ve never heard of telephobia surely you think of a hundred other reasons your call wasn’t taken, especially if it’s the first interaction with a person. I could be in a meeting. I could be driving and don’t take calls. I could be with my kids. I could be away from my phone. I could have left it at home. I could be at the doctor. I could be having a bypass. I could be sick. I could be dead. 
    I understand that I need to get over my fear of phones, and each day I promise myself that this will be the day I answer at least one number I don’t know. Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes not. 
    But in the same breath, people, friends, family and complete strangers, also need to understand that having a cell phone doesn’t make me available 24/7. 
    By the way. Don’t call me to discuss this. I’ll call you 


4 thoughts on “I’m a telephobe!

  1. I would rather not take on that client. I know first hand that I would rather call the clients back on my time, when I know I have a calm and QUIET environment . When my boys were smaller if I accepted a random call in my schedule and was with the kids I would sound like a screeching banshee, yelling take the gum out of your brothers hair, did you not listen when I said I needed 10 minutes quite time etc, no one would screeching lunatic me….. and as you so rightly said life happens. Leave a message if you do not get back to them within 24 hours then start with a second message or email but the the OCD calls are not warranted. RANT over.

  2. I detest it that in this day and age we seem to never be allowed to have 5 minutes (or an hour) for ourselves – no phone, no nothing. I was really sick 3 weeks ago – tummy bug and honestly decided to switch off my phone for a day. Yes, there were a lot of messages but honestly one should give someone at least 24 hours to respond?

  3. Yes this also grates me, just like everyone automatically assumes that I have my work emails loaded on my (private) phone and wonders why I don't answer customer emails immediately and wait until the next day to reply… Technology is our friend… BUT it is also our enemy.

  4. Agree – don't take the client!

    I have trained my clients that they get me from 8:30 – 18:00 and never outside of those hours. I may respond to emails if I'm working anyway, but certainly i don't want to talk.

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