The results of a survey of UK office workers suggests that we are becoming increasingly anxious about answering the phone at work.
Face for Business, one of the UK’s leading telephone answering services has uncovered staggering statistics on the degree of call anxiety exhibited by UK office workers.
Fear of making or taking calls, also known as ‘Telephobia’, is a real thing that’s not just limited to fear of calling a loved one or ordering a pizza. Jill Isenstadt, interviewed by the BBC, is the vice president of coaching for Joyable and stated they have clients who are “held back in their careers” due to the thought of interacting with others over the phone - “For a lot of people, getting on the phone is a particularly complex interaction. You have to think of things on the fly and you have to respond to what someone is saying to you.”
Talking on the phone is a rather unique form of communication. It’s daunting because you are limited to the sound of the voice. You’re unable to read body language or watch someone’s social cues so understandably - this can cause people to feel self-conscious of their choice of words.
Face for Business has dug deeper and found out exactly how far office workers will go to avoid answering a work telephone.
Out of 500 respondents, 62% of office-based employees have reasons for experiencing call-related anxiety before answering the phone. The top reasons workers gave for feeling the fear were: concerns about not knowing how to deal with a query (33%), anxiety about “freezing” on the phone (15%), thoughts that the person on the other end could think negatively of them (9%) and sounding “strange” when they speak (5%).
The survey’s open-text responses detailed anxieties around confrontation, being overheard, having no paper trail to backup conversations and fear that they wouldn’t be able to understand the caller on the line.
Sara Parker, Marketing Manager at Face for Business, said: “Businesses really need to make a human and emotional connection with their prospects. Ergo, employees shouldn’t really hide behind technologies such as email -–they need to start building relationships and trust.”
However, phone anxiety seems to be getting worse in the millennial demographic. Daisy Buchanan over at The Guardian talks about how millennials feel “ambushed” by an incoming call because it comes across “intrusive”, especially as millennials have grown up with digitised and less direct forms of conversation - it’s only natural phone calls feel ‘alien’.
The survey uncovered that millennials – those born between 1981-1996 – are the most ‘Telephobic,’ and are going out of their way to avoid answering office phone calls, causing problems with client relationships.
- 76% of millennials experience anxiety-induced thoughts when they hear the phone ring, compared to their baby boomer colleagues (40%)
- 72% feel anxious about answering a colleague’s phone
- 61% will display physical, anxiety-induced behaviours when they’re the only ones in the office and the phone rings