Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Can We Chat Sometime This Next Week?" - Adventures in Telephobia

Last week was pretty good in terms of walking with Jesus and seeing stuck things get unstuck. I went home Friday feeling like I deserved a break, and enjoyed my Saturday a great deal. Only now with Monday approaching, here comes another wave. Will I experience the exhilaration of riding it safely into shore, or will it crash down on me and reveal my inherent weakness and vulnerability?

Here are the details, a glimpse into my tortured mind. Feel free to stop reading here!

Steve, Eric, Justin, and Dave are all after me to set up times to talk on the phone. I absolutely go into a panic at the thought of making a phone call. The calls to Justin and Dave aren't urgent, but on the other hand they have been waiting a couple of weeks. The ones to Steve and Eric just came up but are more urgent; it will be bad if I procrastinate on them.

None of these guys lives in my city; I can't just meet them for coffee or lunch or drop by their homes or offices, which would be my preference. Face-to-face is great. But Eric and Justin both live in Asia. Steve is in England, I'm pretty sure. So those calls also require a bit more technology - calling over the internet using a headset-and-Skype system. I've never met Steve or Justin before. Eric's my friend but I'm a bit in awe of him. Dave, in California, is the least scary; he's a nice, nice man, and I do hope we have a good talk soon, but something in me is - well, yes, stuck, when it comes to actually calling him.

All four of these guys think phone calls are the way to go. They just don't know I'm not comfortable with that. How could they know? Maybe I should tell them.

Next time someone says, 'can we schedule a time to talk?' what would happen if I said (trying not to whine too much):
"I know that talking on the phone would make the most sense and be the most efficient use of time, but can we try this over email? I know it seems silly but the idea of calling you makes me want to throw up."
Or, to be more professional about it, maybe I could just say,
"Why don't we get the conversation started over email?"
I could just leave the ball in their court, ask them to call me. That works a lot better, if the other person takes responsibility for reaching me. However, that seems unfair. It is unfair.

So, I just gulp and say, "OK," when they ask me to call them, unable to let them know that following through on their request is like sawing off my own arm. Well, perhaps I exaggerate. But not too much.

These are not personal calls... they are all work-related. So my reluctance to do what seems the right thing may have more serious repercussions than if friends and family members read the wrong message into my behavior. Though that is sad, too, and maybe a lot worse: Do people think I don't value a relationship because I can't call them on the phone?


Paul Merrill said...

I am totally a phone-o-phobic too!

Megan Noel said...

why not just communicate by leaving comments in each other blogs? or as i like to call it, twin-fu. fortunately for me, most of my friends are geeks are avoid the phone in favor of IM and text messaging. also fortunately for me, most of my work is behind the scenes and i do not often have to cold call people!

i will make some phone calls for you if you come out here and vacuum for me.

Marti said...

FYI, I talked to one of these four guys, Eric, yesterday. It wasn't so bad! And as might be predicted, enough things to do came out of the (very fruitful) conversation that I wished we'd begun it a month before. Ah well, I'm better at sprints than marathons, which may be why I let myself get in such positions ; - )