I’m sorry, but Gen Z can’t come to the phone right now…
Gone are the days when people would casually talk on the telephone for hours while playing with the cord or standing in line with their coins ready to make a phone call in a telephone booth. Nowadays, regardless of how advanced a smartphone is, Generation Z is less inclined to utilize it for phone calls.
Gen Z, individuals born between 1997 and 2012, grew up in a world of constant communication through the use of gadgets. Despite our reputation for being tech savvy and having the ability to use social media with ease, many of us actually suffer from phone call phobia, or phonophobia.
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In a study by BankMyCell, 75% of Millennials and Generation Z reasoned that they avoid calls because they are “too time-consuming.” 81% also stated that phone calls are “rude and anxiety-inducing.”
Imagine you’re busy in the kitchen preparing a meal you’ve been craving or you’re finally asleep after a long, tiring day when you receive an unsolicited phone call from someone without prior notice. To make it worse, the conversation could have just been said through text. It feels so invasive and indirectly demanding of your time, right?
A netizen on Twitter, Michael Tremmel, even posted saying, “Texting (and voice messages) do not require immediate interaction/response. A phone call is very intrusive. “hey pay attention to me RIGHT NOW drop everything and TALK TO ME.” Even worse are unprompted video calls for which I assume there is a special circle of hell reserved.”
During the pandemic, online interactions increased because of remote work or distant learning, so it could be another reason for our generation to have phone call anxiety. The lack of physical presence while communicating with others via video call or telephone might cause increased anxiety and self-consciousness.
It is said that our generation dislikes the “small talk” that happens during phone calls, including pleasantries and greetings. We opt for faster and more direct communication with clearer outcomes, so we believe instant messaging is a much preferable option. However, this, of course, is quite unacceptable in the professional world.
Mary Jane Copps, known as “The Phone Lady,” set up a consultancy to help companies with their employees’ phone skills. She said, “There are lots of careers, jobs out there that still involve talking on the phone, being proactive on the phone, making outbound calls to clients. There’s certainly a large segment of the business world that relies on customer service on the phone.”
While phone calls are necessary for many business and personal situations and thus will not go away anytime soon, we can’t deny the fact that our discomfort with calling will remain a dominant trait of our generation and future generations. However, this should not be taken negatively; instead, it should be interpreted as a new reality and opportunity that businesses need to address.
Another reason we struggle with phone calls could be our reliance on texting and social media. We are more comfortable communicating digitally than verbally since we grew up in the age of smartphones. “The Phone Lady,” Copps, said in an interview, “Gen Z have never had the skills given to them. In my generation, the phone was on the wall in everyone’s house, and we were taught to answer it and make calls at a young age. Now we have several generations that were never taught anything about talking on the phone, and people have removed phones from their homes.”
Furthermore, we are used to having time to think before responding to our text messages, whereas real-time conversations need immediate responses, which can be unnerving due to our fear of being judged or misunderstood. This lack of control over conversations causes some of us to worry about saying something incorrectly and risking negative outcomes.
In light of these challenges, it’s important for us to learn how to overcome them. Regardless of your age or personality type, here are some tips on how to overcome your Phonophobia efficiently without feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.
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While some may dismiss this as merely being shy or introverted, it is vital to note that phone call anxiety is real and may be extremely difficult for individuals who suffer from it. If you suffer from phone call anxiety, there are various things you can do to help you overcome your anxieties.
Try reframing the way that you think about phone calls.
Instead of focusing on all of the potential negative outcomes (such as awkward silences or stumbling over your words), try to focus on the benefits of having a conversation. Imagine how good you’ll feel once the call is over and how much more confident you’ll be.
This could include practicing what you want to say ahead of time or even making mock phone conversations with friends or family members to get used to chatting on the phone without feeling nervous. “The Phone Lady” Copps believes that practice calls can be highly beneficial in developing our skills before major phone calls, such as job interviews. So if you’re applying for a job, here’s another thing to keep in mind if you want to ace that interview.
Refrain from texting.
Mary Jane Copps says that texting is a form of communication; however, it’s not the same as having a real-time conversation. So she advises her clients to stop texting for 48 hours or over the weekend. In other words, try calling instead of texting.
Riffing is a skill in which one talks about a topic wittily and humorously. In other words, “riff” is the “rizz in communication.” And fortunately for us, according to Copps, this is a skill that people can learn over time.
Copps also added that although phone anxiety or phonophobia is most common in younger generations, it is in fact neither something new or unusual, nor is it limited to a specific age category, as studies show that other generations also face phone call anxiety. Ultimately, overcoming phone call anxiety takes time and effort.
Phone call anxiety is a common issue among our generation; however, it’s also important to recognize that avoiding phone calls can hinder personal and professional growth. We must pursue development by overcoming our fears and becoming more confident communicators in all facets of our lives. Let us not let Phonophobia prevent us from realizing our best potential!
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