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  • ellenwohl712


"They," say that staying connected to family, friends, or the outside world is vital to our well-being. Quite often, it's challenging to get out and socialize face-to-face, so we rely on the phone. Are you like me? I don't like making phone calls. I don't mind talking if someone calls me - but I suffer from "Fear of Phoning."

I hate talking on the phone. To be more specific, I hate making phone calls. It wasn't always like that.

My phone skills were jolted into submission, making cold calls to advertising agencies when I wrote commercial jingles. Learning not to take rejection personally was a giant leap for my psyche.

Every January, I promise myself that I'll be better at staying in touch. I will stop freaking out when I have to make a phone call. Before I even punch in a number, I panic. What if my friend is busy with someone else when I call? What if she thinks I'm calling to make plans, and she doesn't want to get together? A gazillion imagined reasons stop me, making me think twice before reaching out.

I have a less intimidating strategy to talk to my friends who acknowledge texts rather than waiting for a voice to say hello. I developed the "you busy?" text to scope the scene. This works when I call my friend "Steph," who can juggle multiple conversations. If I'm visiting in person and her phone rings, she will look to see who it is. She will either make a face, ignore the caller, or pick up the phone and say, "I'll call you back." So, when I call, and she doesn't answer, I wonder why she's ignoring me. Especially knowing she wears her phone around her neck. It's like an appendage. But by texting first, eventually, she will text back "no," and I dial her number with some degree of confidence.

The second part of my problem is that I have nothing interesting to say. I suck at small talk and gossip. "Hey, Linda." "Hi. What's doing?" "Nothing much. I just called to see how you are." Linda will keep talking if I'm lucky, then I'm off the hook. After a few minutes, I realize she has nothing interesting to say either. Next time, maybe I'll jot down a few topics before I call.

My third strategy is "Phoning with a Purpose. "Make up a reason to call, even if it's a lie. "I have four bananas about to go bad. Can I have the recipe for your banana cake that I love?" It's not as random as the "just called to say hi" greeting. It even works when leaving a message because getting a call back is practically guaranteed.

I'm getting better at picking up the phone, though I still tremble at the thought. So you know... I'm always happy after I have a pleasant conversation.

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