Introvert Monday: Phone Aversion

Phone adversion

In a fit of severe loneliness a few weeks ago, I asked one of my online communities for advice to cope with being a new person in a small town.  One of the suggestions that people mentioned several times was “phone dates” with close friends.  *Cringe*

I finally had to admit that I suffer from phone aversion.  It’s hard enough for me to get my act together and call people on a good day, it’s an impossible feat for me to do so when I’m feeling down.  After I admitted my aversion, several other people commented that they also had a tenuous relationship with their phones.  I wasn’t alone!

Then I remembered:  Introverts typically don’t like phone calls.  Don’t ask me why I always forget this, but it’s such a relief to know that my phone issues aren’t something unusual.

Why don’t introverts like the phone?

Marti Olsen Laney concisely describes introverts phone phobia in her book, The Introvert Advantage:

“Here’s how most introverts view the phone: It’s an interruption that drains energy and requires losing focus, which you have to gain again; it requires expending energy for “on-the-feet thinking”; it doesn’t provide innies with Hap Hits.*  Introverts can have so many dips of energy during the day that they are not able to expend energy at the drop of a hat.” (Pg. 184)

That jarring ring-tone ruins the focus that introverts like to maintain.  It’s a demand for a conversation that you’ve had no preparation for (when starting an impromptu conversation in person, at least you have a few moments to register that a person is coming towards you with the intention of talking).

Likewise, a huge chunk of non-verbal communication is taken away when on the phone.  One introvert describes it as, “There’s no ‘text and subtext, body language. . .I can’t “place myself” properly (if that makes sense), when it’s not face-to-face'” (The Introvert’s Way, pg. 66).  There’s no way for introverts to convey that their momentary silence may be that they are thinking about their response–there’s just awkward silence.  This can lead to either the other person continuously chatting and not letting the introvert get a word in or lead to the introvert panicking and creating a nonsensical monologue.  I find the latter usually happens to me.

How to cope with the phone

Fortunately for me, I actually don’t have many people that I feel I need to talk on the phone with–just immediate family and close friends (and even with the close friends, I’m pretty terrible at maintaining phone contact).  Because I have such a limited number of people who call me, I’ll generally answer if I can (actually making a phone call is another beast to deal with).

However, for those who aren’t so fortunate to have limited phone contact, here are some common tips:

  1. Let your voicemail pick up the message and call back during a set time.
  2. Schedule phone calls with friends and family so you have the proper amount of energy.
  3. Don’t be afraid to end the conversation when there’s nothing left to be said.
  4. Try to keep yourself free to move around when on the phone.  Hands-free sets can help.
  5. Encourage and utilize use of other forms of communication like e-mail or texting (realizing that sometimes it really is necessary to have a conversation over the phone!).

That being said, some tips don’t work for me personally, especially since I also have issues with technology.  Many introverts don’t mind using video chat like Skype because it allows them to see the other person.  I personally don’t like video chat, mostly because I find technology glitches incredibly frustrating and more distracting then dealing with awkward pauses on the phone.  Likewise, texting isn’t a great way of communication for me.  I still have a flip phone, so repeatedly pressing buttons to find the right letter gets tedious.  If a texting conversation gets too long, I’d rather save time and talk on the phone.  But I do love e-mail!

However, technology might be converting more people towards the introvert’s view on communication.  Sophia Dembling explains in The Introvert’s Way:

“Interestingly, society may actually be taking a turn toward our way of thinking.  According to Nielsen, we’re making fewer phone calls than we used to (we peaked in 2007), and in 2008 it reported that people were sending and receiving more texts with their mobile phones than they were making or receiving phone calls” (pg. 69).

Perhaps less phone chatting is in all of our futures!

How do you feel about phones?  Are you an introvert who doesn’t mind phone calls?  Are you an extrovert who abhors them?

*Hap Hits can be described as “hits of happiness”.

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5 Comments on “Introvert Monday: Phone Aversion”

  1. Heather says:

    Hello kindred spirit! I never equated not wanting to talk on the phone with being an introvert. Yes to all of it. If I don’t pick up the phone when someone calls though, I will never return the phone call. I am always so glad I did and am indebted to my friends who will call and talk to me even though I never return the favor. The ones who know me well, love me in spite of it all.

    • Katrina says:

      Yes, I’m inclined to not return phone calls as well. If I really have to return the call, I fret about it so much that I might as well just answer the phone to begin with!

  2. Rebekah says:

    I often ignore the phone when it rings, particularly when I am busy with the kids. Talking on the phone is incredibly difficult with kids. Texting and facebook are much easier because you can do them on your own time.

  3. […] in business) Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call … Well, No, Actually We Probably Won’t… Introvert Monday: Phone Aversion Sorry, No […]


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