Utilizing My Aversion to Phones

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by Rasmus Rasmussen on July 6, 2010

The Phone is my least favorite communication tool. Unless you count the fax machine, but thankfully I don’t own one of those.

Talking on the phone makes me uncomfortable, whether I’m getting a call or making it. I’m much better with e-mail and texting. But that’s just me, right? I’m weird that way. Most people love talking on the phone, right? No? I’ve noticed that this seems to be a fairly common aversion.

My personal theory is that it comes from an interest in communication mixed with no ability to edit, resulting in lack of confidence and ultimately a sense of impending doom. When you’re in the business of creating and communicating, delivery is half the message. No matter if you’re a fine art painter, a chef or a web developer.

Like any other serious writer, I obsess over the wording of sentences, structure of paragraphs and tight dialog. It’s not just doing something, it’s doing it well.

On the phone I either begin rambling or cut myself short and end up curt, bordering on arrogant. Public speaking (supposedly the most common fear in the world) is not a problem for me, but I lose my power of communication when talking into a phone. Audio without image crosses a wire in my brain.

Should I try to fix this? Maybe take it to a life coach? Read a self-help book? Take up drinking? Or embrace it as part of who I am? I have choosen to integrate it with how I operate.

Unless I am expecting a call, I only pick up calls from friends and immediate family who already know not to call unless it’s an emergency. The disruption factor is a big reason why I don’t like phones. Chances are high that the caller is disturbing the callee, which makes the whole experience intrusive.

I don’t feel bad about ignoring a call. Ever. I allow myself to disregard calls and listen to the voicemail – if there is one and when I have a natural break in my work. Mostly, I respond via text or e-mail. To be up front about it, I tell people I meet that I suck at phones so they know, and it’s never been a problem.

By adopting a policy, I have turned my aversion into a positive. I get more done in my “unavailable” time, knowing that I don’t have to worry about that disruption. Partly from some twisted sense of having to uphold my end of the bargain.

The phone was easy to cut out because it’s my least favorite. Ignoring or controlling social media and blog intake is much harder, but that’s a whole other story.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Joel Bagby July 6, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I am forwarding this to my wife, she will laugh, say, “finally someone gets it”, and feel totally validated in her refusal to talk on the phone.
You will be her new hero.

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Rasmus Rasmussen July 6, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Your wife must be a super cool person. ;)

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Kim Bagby July 7, 2010 at 9:49 pm

I AM! How did you know! You nailed it for me! :-)

Nicola July 6, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I’m so glad you’ve found ways to support yourself besides … working in a Call Centre! ;-)

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Rasmus Rasmussen July 6, 2010 at 3:42 pm

I’m pretty sure they would have fired me by now. :)

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Bob Davies July 6, 2010 at 6:23 pm

I’m so glad to hear someone else say this :)
I abandoned the phone when I went self-employed because it’s always been a weak point for me (that unedited crossed wires feeling for sure). Initially it was a challenge but now everyone I work with knows to email or im me and they’ll get a faster and more useful response. I use my phone just for family and close friends, and if anything it makes what little time I get to talk with the people I love the most that much more special.

Thanks for spreading the word :)

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Rasmus Rasmussen July 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Thank you right back, for proving that I’m not alone. Not that I thought I was, but still…

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Todd July 6, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I can talk the heck out of anyone (those that know me personally can back me up on that). I definitely get that from my Mom, as she’s the more talkative of my two parents. Having a job as a hairdresser, her yapper probably helps her pay the bills. I think I might even talk more than my mom, though; but weirdly enough, I am like you, Ras. I don’t really like talking on the phone. Sometimes it’s a must, because not everything can be said/explained in emails. It could be, but sometimes it might take 200 emails just to say what you could back and froth on a phone convo in 10 minutes. Last week the CEO of one stock agency I market my work through called me up on a concern I had, and I was glad that he did. We settled the issue a lot easier and faster than it would have been going back and forth with emails. Although I don’t prefer the phone, I think it’s just the initial thought of having to talk on a phone that is the problem. Once I get going, I can talk someones ear off until they have to cut me off for some random reason (ok, ok I get the hint).

Oh look, I talk a lot in blog comments too :( DOH

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Rasmus Rasmussen July 6, 2010 at 8:28 pm

LOL – Yes, sometimes the quick phone call IS the fastest and easiest way, and I don’t mind those calls so much. Sometimes (but rarely) when a marketing person calls, I will take pleasure in torturing that poor soul.

We had this one guy who would not stop calling once, so I played the gay phone sex card on him, asking him what he was wearing and stuff. He never called again.

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Michael July 7, 2010 at 1:00 am

I’ve had the same feeling about phone calls but as I’m getting older I’m getting better at taking cold calls and making calls without having to spend time writing notes and putting myself up for the call. Still not loving it but at least phone calls aren’t as scary any more.

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Rasmus Rasmussen July 7, 2010 at 9:35 am

I’ve gotten a little better with age as well. But also more blunt when it comes to turning people away.

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Ann Fenech July 7, 2010 at 1:27 am

Oh – It’s not just me! My boyfriend just sent me this as he “figured I could relate to this”. I definitely can! In real life I can talk non-stop, but on the phone I just clam up. I definitely don’t mind not having my phone close by. My family has learnt to e-mail me, or warn me if they are going to call. I think it is the intrusion factor with me, and the fact that I cannot see their face so have no idea how they are feeling about what is being said.
Enough about me! Thanks for making me feel less of a freak about this :)

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Rasmus Rasmussen July 7, 2010 at 9:36 am

We can all be freaks together. :)

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Ray Medina July 7, 2010 at 6:37 am

Rasmus,

You most definitely are NOT alone. I have the same problem. In my day job, I try hard NOT to answer my phone and do exactly what you do (Reply by email or txt). My co-workers know exactly how I feel about being on the phone and even my boss is OK with it. In my personal work, I also tell my clients that the best way to communicate with me is via email/txt, just because I might be out shooting or even talking to a potential client in person.

Great read and thank you for putting it all out.

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Rasmus Rasmussen July 7, 2010 at 9:37 am

Thank you right back, Ray. :)

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Tara Brannigan July 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Oh boy do I ever relate to this! Being on the phone is an exercise in patience for me, to say the least. I hate talking on the phone and will anxiously pace the entire time I’m on. I’m a great communicator through other means, but when placed on the spot on a phone I start to feel like there’s gunk in the gears and find myself struggling to sound coherent. Text me, that’s fine. Email, even better! Call me though and 9 times out of 10 I’m letting it go to voice mail.

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Rasmus Rasmussen July 8, 2010 at 3:22 pm

As for pacing, I’m happy I don’t have any downstairs neighbors, let’s put it that way.

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Jen R September 22, 2010 at 9:14 am

OMG! You nailed me to a T! I am a church secretary and I get so sick (physically and otherwise) when my boss tries to make me communicate with the congregation by phone when I am so much more effective in writing – emails, newsletters, and other written publications. I am a great public speaker, I totally could be a stand up comic, but I hate calling people on the phone and I hate to hear my home phone ring. At work, if the phone rings it doesn’t bother me, and I can make some calls as long as the call isn’t what I would consider intrusive or an invasion of privacy or nagging.
Thank you for your articulation of this apparently more common than I thought issue.

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gert rasmussen February 16, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Phones were never my big thing. It’s great for a quick nailing down details, explaining different angles on a subject, but that’s about it, for me anyway.

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