As a journalism student, I make a lot of phone calls to sources for stories I'm writing. However, just because I call a lot of people, it does not mean I am fully comfortable with the task.
In the hours leading up to a scheduled phone interview, I begin to fill with dread and anxiety over the thought of having to call someone on the phone. This uneasiness leads me to try and put off the task at hand as much as I possibly can. While this tactic puts me a little at ease, at the end of the day I still have to make the call.
Once I finally work up the courage to hit dial, a new persona emerges. The pitch of my voice gets higher and it seems I no longer know how to talk like a normal person. I'm left stuttering trying to find the exact words I want to say. My behaviors are awkward and over-rehearsed to the point that I seem like an interviewing robot. After the first five minutes, though, I can fall into a more natural rhythm, but the worst part is when it's time to say "goodbye."
I've run out of questions to ask and I feel satisfied with whatever interview I just finished. Now, my biggest challenge: ending the call. I try and stick with the traditional "bye" and "thank you," but sometimes I miscalculate the timing. My anxiety gets the best of me and I try to end it as soon as possible but sometimes the person I've called isn't done yet. Then I'm left to either come up with a new response on the fly or just sound like a broken record.
After a call ends, I'm immediately filled with a sense of relief, unless the aforementioned awkward ending occurred. Then I'm left to think about all the things I could've done better. I could've said this or I should've asked that. Despite my lingering worries, I'm mainly just glad that it's over.
I'm sure everyone in our generation has felt this way at some point about making a phone call, whether it be a middle school prank or a call to a business about their hours. There's a sort of uneasiness about not being able to see and gauge the person on the other end's reaction.
For me, I think when you talk to someone you should be able to see them. It helps to see those non-verbal cues that help to facilitate a conversation. Phone calls take that away, leaving me floundering as to how to respond next without knowing someone's reaction. That's why I'm perfectly comfortable with FaceTime or Skype. You can see the other person and it feels more comfortable. There's definitely a more personal touch to those interactions that phone calls just don't have.
However, if I'm trying to reach someone close to me, I prefer calling them over texting or emailing. It's easy and I don't have to waste my time typing out a response. Having that established familiarity allows me to talk for hours over the phone with ease. The issue arises when I have to make a cold call to a complete stranger or someone I just don't know very well.
Over time and with plenty of practice, I'm sure I'll be able to overcome this irrational fear. I already feel myself getting more confident in my calling skills as I continue to make these unfamiliar phone calls. While I still have a preference for talking face to face (or FaceTime to FaceTime), I think I just have to learn to love calling everyone, or at least learn to stop dreading it so much.